A large-scale, online study participated in by more than 17,000 healthy people 50 years and older showed that regularly answering crossword puzzles could reduce the brain's age by 10 years.

Experts from the University of Exeter and Kings College London had participants undergo the CogTrackTM and PROTECT online cognitive tests, which are used in assessing core brain functions.

Researchers asked participants how often they played crosswords, and had them submit results of their tests online.

They eventually found that the more the subjects played with crosswords, the better their attention, reasoning and memory became. The participants demonstrated brain function which was equal to 10 years younger compared to their age.

“We found direct relationships between the frequency of word puzzle use and the speed and accuracy of performance on nine cognitive tasks assessing a range of aspects of function including attention, reasoning and memory,” said Professor Keith Wesnes of Cognitive Neuroscience, University of Exeter Medical School.

Furthermore, results became even better the more frequent the participants engage in the puzzle activity.

The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2017.

Though a link has been found between memory, thinking skills and word puzzles, researchers still can’t say definitively if common word puzzles could improve cognitive brain function, according to Dr Doug Brown, Director of Research of the Alzheimer’s Society.

Their advice in keeping dementia at bay remains adapting a healthy lifestyle such as avoidance of smoking, eating a healthy diet and being physically active.

“We now need to follow up this very exciting association in a clinical trial, to establish whether engaging results in improvement in brain function,” Professor Wesnes noted.

Dementia is not a single disease, but is a general term for the decline of mental ability, which includes Alzheimer’s disease that accounts for 60 to 90 percent of the cases.

Symptoms of dementia could include impairment of memory, communication and language, ability to focus and pay attention, visual perception, and reasoning and judgement. MIMS

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