Adults over 50 who regularly spend time doing puzzles — such as crosswords and sudoku — have a sharper brain, a new study has revealed.

Researchers at the University of Exeter and King’s College London questioned more than 19,000 participants, via an online survey, and found that those who often challenged themselves to doing logic-based puzzles had better memory and attention.

In order to delve deeper into the findings, the academics asked those who had taken part to enter details on how often they do puzzles, plus how old they were. They were then given a series of cognitive tests (both simple and hard) which were sensitive to measuring changes in brain function.

The study also found…

  • Those who engage in word puzzles have a brain function equivalent to 10 years younger than their age
  • Regular use of word and number puzzles helps keep our brains working better for longer
  • Puzzles can help you to focus more during the day

“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,” Dr Anne Corbett, study leader at the University of Exeter Medical School.

“The improvements are particularly clear in the speed and accuracy of their performance.”


While it hasn’t been directly proven to completely reduce dementia in later life, challenging quizzes and puzzles do help to keep the mind sharp and active, whatever age you may be.

Dr Anne explains, by saying: “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.”

Word puzzles have also been proven to help reduce stress, elevate your mood and help with learning new words. Just another reason why you should give them a go.

(Taken from Country Living)