Have you seen the movie The Imitation Game, based on Alan Turing? If you have, I am sure you noticed how at one point Turing, when he needed to hire people to work under him, used a difficult crossword puzzle in a newspaper to test potential applicants.
Crossword puzzles can be a great way to pass the time. If you’re one of those people who just loves to solve crossword puzzles, you’ll be glad to learn that science has explained why this specific kind of puzzle is good for your brain.
Plenty of researchers have discovered the positive effects that crossword puzzles can have on one’s brain if played regularly. Regularly doesn’t necessarily mean every day — once a week is fine. Among these researchers is Ann Lukits, who wrote “Puzzles Boost Verbal Skills, Cut Dementia Risk” for the Wall Street Journal. She firmly believes that solving crosswords on a regular basis can “improve memory and brain function in older adults.” Such activities can also “improve mental functions in patients with brain damage or early dementia.”
Solving crossword puzzles alone is beneficial, but working in a group adds a bigger advantage to one’s brain function. One important factor of collaborative cruciverbalism is the ability to think creatively in a more strategic fashion. The other factors are fairly easy to capture. Involving yourself in such a brain-consuming activity helps you vastly by improving your verbal skills, making you solve problems, and causing you to think deeply.
Here are some other reasons that show why crossword puzzles are good for your mental health.
This is one of the most-discussed reasons for doing crossword puzzles. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a daily dose of crossword puzzles is a significant way to keep the brain active and sharp, especially as you grow older.
I mentioned collaborative cruciverbalism above. In plain words, it means working together in a group. The group may consist of cooperative couples, a band of brothers, a society of sisters, or a flock of friends. According to Lukits, working in a group will “improve the speed of thinking and talking.” Solving puzzles in a group can also strengthen social bonds.
This is a great way to increase your vocabulary. Through crosswords, you are learning new words constantly. If you don’t know the meaning of a new word, you can always check the dictionary and add it to your vocabulary.
When you are solving crossword puzzles, you tend to dig deeper into the problem at hand. This means you are less focussed on your own problems. It’s a great way to relax and forget your worries for a little while.
Crossword puzzles are never quite easy to solve, despite playing the easiest level available. You have to rack your brain in order to solve one. This racking of your brain can actually help you to deal with your regular troubles in life and help you to solve problems, since you are practicing thinking clearly. If you can understand the pattern of a puzzle, you can easily understand the patterns of life!
If you are lonely, depressed, anxious, or bored, just open your newspaper and solve a crossword puzzle. This will help you to relax, keep your mind engaged, and just have fun! If you are not a puzzle person, you don’t have to be. Just give crossword puzzles a try and you’ll be hooked in no time!
Featured photo credit: Luca Sartoni via flickr.com
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