Word and number puzzles improve adult cognitive function

Older adults who regularly take part in word and number puzzles have sharper brains, according to the largest online study to date.

The more regularly adults aged 50 and over played puzzles such as crosswords and Sudoku, the better their brain function, according to research in more than 19,000 participants, led by the University of Exeter and King's College London.

Dr James Pickett, Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

This research, much like research we’ve seen in the past, suggests that regularly enjoying word and number puzzles has a positive impact on thinking skills.

'Unfortunately it doesn’t yet mean that regular games of Sudoku or jigsaw puzzles will definitely prevent dementia. It’s an important first step – and we are proud to have helped fund the study as it lays the foundations for more research into the relationship between a love of ‘puzzling’ and reducing dementia risk.  This looks to be a well conducted study, although it can only show that puzzling and thinking skills are linked, not that puzzling will improve thinking skills.  It also didn’t look for a link with dementia risk.

'With nothing yet to slow or stop dementia, prevention is key. If you enjoy puzzling, then continue, although don’t worry if you don’t. There are other ways we can reduce our risk of developing dementia by taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and heavy drinking, and exercising regularly.'