Crosswords vs. Video Games: What’s the Best Practice to Prevent Memory Loss?

Crosswords vs. Video Games: What’s the Best Practice to Prevent Memory Loss?

Clinical studies and magnetic resonance imaging have confirmed the advantages of both methods.
Clinical studies and magnetic resonance imaging have confirmed the advantages of both methods.

In older adults, the mild cognitive impairment (MCI) confers an increased risk of progression to dementia, particularly dementia. Alzheimer. It is common that with this in mind, the use of practices that require cerebral acuity is recommended as a possible strategy to prevent these effects.

However, for science, the effectiveness of cognitive training in patients at the onset of cognitive loss has not been unequivocally determined. Now a new study, conducted jointly by more than a dozen researchers from Columbia University and Duke University, has been published in the journal NEJM records shown what to do crossword has an advantage over computer video games for memory function in older adults with mild cognitive impairment.

In a randomized controlled trial led by Columbia University professor of psychiatry and neurology Davangere P. Devanand and Duke University professor of psychiatry and medicine Murali Doraiswamy, they found that the participants (mean age 71 years) have been trained to perform perceptual stimulating practices.

A Cognitively Active Lifestyle May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia (iStock)
A Cognitively Active Lifestyle May Reduce Risk of Cognitive Decline and Dementia (iStock)

“This is the first study to document both the short- and long-term benefits of home crossword training compared to other interventions. The results are important given the difficulty of demonstrating improvement with interventions in mild cognitive impairment,” said Devanand, who leads Columbia’s brain aging and mental health research.

Crosswords are very commonly used and recommended to keep the puzzle active. Brainbut they have not been systematically studied in mild cognitive impairment.

To conduct their study, the researchers randomly assigned 107 participants with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) at two different locations to crossword training or cognitive games with intensive training for 12 weeks, followed by refresher sessions of up to 78 weeks.

The researchers studied more than 100 patients to assess the effects on memory (Photo: Saber Vivir)
The researchers studied more than 100 patients to assess the effects on memory (Photo: Saber Vivir)

Both interventions were delivered via a computerized platform with weekly compliance monitoring. The results are “surprising”, according to the specialists. Crossword puzzles were superior to cognitive games on the primary cognitive outcome measure, ADAS-Cog, at both 12 weeks and 78 weeks. So they were on the FAQ, a measure of daily functioning, at 78 weeks.

Brain shrinkage (measured by MRI) was less in crossword puzzles after 78 weeks. “Benefits were seen not only in cognition but also in daily activities with evidence of brain shrinkage on MRI, suggesting the effects are clinically significant,” Devanand explained.

The study also emphasized the importance of Obligation. Based on remote electronic monitoring of computer use, participants at a later stage of disability may have engaged with more familiar crossword puzzles than with computer-based cognitive games.

Mild cognitive impairment is associated with a high risk of dementia, including Alzheimer's disease (Getty)
Mild cognitive impairment is associated with a high risk of dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease (Getty)

Two strengths of the study were the 28 percent participation rate of people from minority ethnic groups and the low drop-out rate (15%) for such a long home-based study. A limitation of the study was the lack of a control group that received no cognitive training.

Although these results are very encouraging, the authors emphasize the need to replicate them in a larger controlled study with an inactive control group. “The connection of three potentials implying the improvement of cognition, function and neuroprotection is the Holy Grail for this field of study. Further research on expanding brain training as a digital home therapy to delay Alzheimer’s should be a priority for this workspace,” concluded Doraiswamy.

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