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“Thinking” on Brain Games

People who play board games, cards, chess, bingo, and checkers are more likely to stay mentally sharp later in life, a study suggests. People in their 70’s who regularly play board games score higher on tests of memory and thinking skills than those who don’t.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom assessed about 1,100 participants for part of the decades-long study. Participants in the study had their mental and cognitive capacities evaluated from age 11 to age 70. Then, a series of cognitive tests were conducted at the ages of 70, 73, 76, and 79. Researchers asked the participants at the ages of 70 and 76 how often they participated in activates such as bingo, cards, chess, and crosswords.

The study, which was published in The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences, found that those who began playing more games in their later years were less likely to experience a decline in thinking skills. According to Dr. Drew Altschul, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy: “For those in their 70s or beyond, another message seems to be that playing non-digital games may be a positive behavior in terms of reducing cognitive decline.”

The researchers concluded that their findings could help establish what sorts of activities may benefit our cognitive abilities as we reach our golden years.


D.M. Altschul, Phd and I. J. Dreary, Phd. Playing Analog Games is Associated with Reduced Declines in Cognitive Function: A 68-Year Longitudinal Cohort Study. J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci, Vol 75. (3).474-482. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbz146.


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