There is some evidence that doing daily mind games and puzzles may be connected to better cognitive abilities and “keep the brain young.” Researchers from the University of Exeter, Imperial College London and Kings College London, and funded by the National Institute for Health Research, published their two studies in the peer reviewed journal Geriatric Psychiatry.
The researchers concluded that people who said they did puzzles on a regular basis did better on tests of cognitive ability. They were quoted in the Daily Telegraph as saying that it suggests that regularly doing word and number puzzles can help to keep our brains working for longer.
However, this doesn’t necessarily show that the puzzles themselves are making their brains sharper or that doing them will reduce the risk of dementia later in life. It could simply be that those who had better cognitive abilities to begin with were more likely to do these types of puzzles.
The researchers recruited people aged 50 or over and who did not suffer from dementia. It was a cross-sectional survey completed by volunteers online as part of the ongoing PROTECT research study. This programme is looking at how brains change with age and how certain factors including lifestyle affect this. The study will continue to follow up with the volunteers for at least 10 years with these results being part of the first assessment. Cross-sectional studies can test people’s at one point in time but they cannot definitively prove any link