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  • Morgan Carpenter

Puzzles can Boost your Brain Health, and help prevent Alzheimer's

This week we’re taking a look at old childhood favorites and how they may help to encourage healthy aging and protect brain health. One great option for continuing to engage your brain throughout your life is a childhood classic: puzzles.


A study done at the University of California, Berkeley, found a significant link between brain health and doing mentally challenging activities such as puzzles and crosswords. The study used brain scans and an imaging compound known as Pittsburgh compound B. The compound binds itself to the protein that causes the brain plaques which characterize Alzheimer’s disease.


As the report describes, “We report a direct association between cognitive activity and Pittsburgh compound B uptake, suggesting that lifestyle factors found in individuals with high cognitive engagement may prevent or slow deposition of beta-amyloid, perhaps influencing the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s disease.”


It seemed that these activities were best begun in the early and middle years of one’s life in order to prevent the onset of any brain health issues or degenerative diseases.


Another study, begun in 2019, is revealing that word and number puzzles specifically bolster your cognitive health, and can aid in maintaining decision making skills as well as memory.


In order to take full advantage of these findings, your old favorite jigsaw puzzles can be a great place to start. However, it’s best to also include some crossword puzzles and Sudoku, or any other activity that feels mentally challenging and isn’t too simple for your memory level. Remember to challenge yourself, and work these puzzles into your everyday routine whenever possible.


Also, as recorded in both of these studies, it is never too early to start caring for your brain. Begin engaging in mentally stimulating activities as soon as possible, even if you have already been diagnosed with Alzheimer's or another dementia disease.