For years, Sudoku has been hailed a way to help fend off dementia and a recent study has consolidated this idea. Researchers at King’s College London and the University of Exeter found that those who regularly do crosswords and number puzzles have healthier cognitive functions.
“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,” says Dr Anne Corbett, of the University of Exeter Medical School, who led the research.
Over 17,000 healthy people, aged over 50, took part in the study and researchers concluded that those who regularly play these puzzles have the brain function of someone up to 10 years younger. However, Corbett is quick to state that doing “We can’t say that playing these puzzles necessarily reduces the risk of dementia in later life but this research supports previous findings that indicate regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer.”
Dr Doug Brown from the Alzheimer’s Society is equally as cautious: “We know that keeping an active mind can help to reduce decline in thinking skills. This new research does reveal a link between word puzzles, like crosswords, and memory and thinking skills, but we can’t say definitively that regular ‘puzzling’ improves these skills.”
Picking up a pencil and doing the daily crossword might help boost your brain more than downloading the latest app though. A study in 2017 by the University of Pennsylvania called into question the power of commercial brain training apps, specifically Lumosity, in improving cognitive functions. The study monitored 64 healthy adults, who used the app for 30 minutes everyday, for five days a week, across a 10 week period and concluded that the training didn’t have any affect on brain functions or decision making.
What are the other brain boosting options for those who hate crosswords and puzzles?
Get your Zzz’s: It will come as no surprise that getting enough sleep is crucial for making sure your brain is performing at A-game level. A study in 2018 by the University of Illinois found that those with diabetes who slept badly had poorer brain power than those who regularly slept better. Making sure you get at least seven hours of shut-eye each night will ensure you’re more alert and focused.
Dabble in nootropics: You might have heard of the word ‘nootropics’, but still be unclear as to what they actually are. Essentially, nootropics help to stimulate your brain and you’ve probably used them already with the caffeine in your morning coffee. Natural nootropics, such as those formulated by Neubria, use ingredients such as ginkgo biloba and turmeric extract to help sharpen your memory and improve your focus and concentration levels. Whether you want to improve your word recall or just need a helping hand to get you through a long meeting at four o’clock, it’s definitely worth exploring the brand.
Stock up on blueberries: According to research by the University of Exeter, drinking concentrated blueberry juice everyday can boost the blood flow to your brain and improve cognitive functions.