The humble crossword puzzle may actually be better for the ageing brain than brain-training video games involving memory tests, matching tasks, spatial recognition challenges, and processing speed tasks, a new study suggests.

In the study, older adults with mild cognitive impairment experienced improved brain function after doing crossword puzzles regularly for 3 months. People who did crosswords also had better overall daily functioning and less shrinkage of brain tissue on MRI scans by the end of the trial.

Mild cognitive impairment occurs when a person has difficulty remembering, concentrating, learning new things, and making daily decisions. Symptoms can worsen over time, and in some cases lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

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