(Image source from: The Independent)
Researchers in the United Kingdom found on a habitual basis working at problem-solving games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles do not guard against a mental decline in later life.
Existing research has suggested that mental ability can be kept up or improved by problem-solving games such as Sudoku and crossword puzzles. These studies say that playing board games, reading from an early age, and playing musical instruments at least twice a week is linked to reduced risk of dementia.
A new study, published in The BMJ, suggests that regularly engaging in intellectual activities boosts mental ability over a lifetime and provides a "higher cognitive point" from which to decline.
The sample took in 498 participants who were all born in 1936 and had all taken part in a group intelligence test at the age of 11. They were approximately 64 years old at the start of the study. Researchers used data from the archives of the Scottish Council for Research in Education, which had maintained population-based records of the Scottish Mental Surveys of 1947.
However, there is a lack of historical childhood mental ability data, and the effect of practice on improving test scores has frequently been failed to notice in mental aging studies, they said.
The study proved that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities on a regular basis was linked to the level of mental ability in old age, having the largest association with improving cognitive performance during the course of life.
Dr Staff, Honorary Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen and Head of Medical Physics at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, suggests that while those who on a regular basis engage in problem-solving puzzles could possibly enhance their mental ability, this does not "protect an individual from decline but imparts a higher starting point from which decline is observed".