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Crosswords Slow Memory Loss More Than Video Games

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People of a certain age are bombarded with ads for brain games promising to help keep their minds sharp. Now, a new study suggests that a pretty old-school pastime — the humble crossword puzzle — may actually be better for the aging brain than new-fangled video games.

“This is the first study to document both short-term and longer-term benefits for home-based crossword puzzles training compared to another intervention,” lead study author Davangere Devanand, MD, a professor and director of geriatric psychiatry at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, said in a statement.

“The results are important in light of difficulty in showing improvement with interventions in mild cognitive impairment,” Devanand said.

Millions of Americans suffer from mild cognitive impairment, which occurs when a person has difficulty remembering, concentrating, learning new things, and making daily decisions, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (PDF). Symptoms can range from mild to severe, worsen over time, and in some cases lead to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.