Published: Thu, December 13, 2018
Health Care | By Cedric Leonard

Crosswords and puzzles do not prevent mental decline

Crosswords and puzzles do not prevent mental decline

The researchers found that doing the puzzles will boost mental ability, but it won't slow down or stop the mental decline many people experience as they get old.

Playing Sudoku and crosswords may not offset age-related mental decline, but can boost mental ability over a lifetime, a study claims.

However, a new study published by the BMJ, formerly known as British Medical Journal, on Monday (Dec 10) says that might not necessarily be true. They noted that those who were routinely engaged in problem solving had greater mental abilities.

The group of 495 test subjects were all born in 1936, and have previously taken part in a group intelligence test at age 11.

The study used data from the archives of the Scottish Council for Research in Education (SCRE) who had maintained population-based records of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1947.

It said the younger a person started these activities, the better their brain function would be as they aged.

The study began when the elderly was about 64 years, and five times they were tested over a 15-year period.

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However, scientists argue that high knowledge and advanced cognitive abilities help to delay the onset of serious symptoms.

Driven by a group from the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom, the investigation found that such exercises had no impact on the rate of mental decrease related with maturing.

No studies so far have definitively shown that brain training can prevent dementia.

While those who regularly engage in problem solving puzzles could potentially enhance their mental ability, this does not "protect an individual from decline but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed", said Roger Staff, lecturer at the varsity.

But the researchers stressed it was an observational study, and it is "impossible for a causal effect to be inferred" because of other unmeasured factors, such as personality.

They suggest that "personality may govern how much effort older people put into such activities and why".

"We know that what is good for the heart is good for the head, and there are other ways we can reduce our risk of developing dementia", he added, "by taking steps towards a healthy lifestyle, eating a balanced diet, avoiding smoking and heavy drinking, and exercising regularly".

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