Puzzles don’t just make for a fun rainy day activity. Research shows there are mental benefits to filling in the correct numbers and letters in the blocked grids of Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
According to a survey conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter and King’s College London, these mind games can help keep your brain younger even as you age. The study, which was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, analysed 19,000 participants between the ages of 50 and 93.
Each respondent was asked to complete a series of 10 cognitive tests such as word-matching and number puzzles every day for a week. They were also required to report on how often they regularly solved puzzles in their daily life, with answers varying from never to monthly, weekly, daily or multiple times a day.
Scientists have long held the belief that problem-solving activities such as crossword puzzles can improve brain function and protect the mind from cognitive decline later in life.
“We’ve found that the more regularly people engage with puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the sharper their performance is across a range of tasks assessing memory, attention and reasoning. The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance,” said Dr Anne Corbett, who led the research team.
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