Crosswords and sudoku may not stop mental decline

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(Reuters Health) — Mental engagement through problem-solving games like crossword puzzles, sudoku and brain teasers may not offset cognitive losses due to age-related dementia, a new study suggests.

Still, practicing these kinds of activities throughout life might boost mental ability and provide a higher starting point before decline, researchers write in The BMJ.

“This puts the ‘use it or lose it’ conjecture into question,” said lead author Roger Staff of the University of Aberdeen in the UK.

Instead, childhood mental ability and intellectual engagement throughout life seem most related to cognitive scores after age 65, he said.

“This idea is more about what you enjoy and gravitate toward throughout your life,” Staff said in a telephone interview. “Smart people want to engage rather than go home and not do anything.” (…)

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