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Crossword puzzles slow memory loss better than computer video games
A new study by researchers from Columbia University and Duke University published in the journal NEJM Evidence shows that doing crossword puzzles has an advantage over computer video games for memory functioning in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.
In a randomized, controlled trial, led by D.P. Devanand, researchers determined that participants (average age 71) trained in doing web-based crossword puzzles demonstrated greater cognitive improvement than those who were trained on cognitive video games.
To conduct their study, researchers at Columbia and Duke randomly assigned 107 participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at the two different sites to either crossword puzzles training or cognitive games training with intensive training for 12 weeks followed by booster sessions up to 78 weeks. Both interventions were delivered via a computerized platform with weekly compliance monitoring.
The most striking findings of the trial were:
● Crossword puzzles were superior to cognitive games on the primary cognitive outcome measure, ADAS-Cog, at both 12 weeks and 78 weeks. Crossword puzzles were superior on FAQ, a measure of daily functioning, at 78 weeks.
● Crossword puzzles were superior for participants at a later disease stage but both forms of training were equally effective in an earlier stage.
● Brain shrinkage (measured with MRI) was less for crossword puzzles at 78 weeks.
The study also highlights the importance of engagement. Based on remote electronic monitoring of computer use, participants at a later stage of impairment may have better engaged with the more familiar crossword puzzles than with computerized cognitive games.
"Computerized Games Versus Crosswords Training in Mild Cognitive Impairment" 27 October 2022, NEJM Evidence,DOI: 10.1056/EVIDoa2200121
B.Sc Life Sciences, M.Sc Biotechnology, B.Ed