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Board games sharpen memory, study finds

Board games sharpen memory, study finds

Washington: Playing board games is not only a great way to pass time but has been found to make an individual’s memory sharper. Even more, regular players have been found to score better in memory, thinking related tests.

People who play games — such as cards and board games — are more likely to stay mentally sharp in later life, a study published in the journal
Those who regularly played non-digital games scored better on memory and thinking tests in their 70s, the research stated along with revealing that a behaviour change in later life could still make a difference.

People who increased game playing during their 70s were more likely to maintain certain thinking skills as they grew older.

Psychologists at the University of Edinburgh tested more than 1000 people aged 70 for memory, problem-solving, thinking speed and general thinking ability.

The participants then repeated the same thinking tests every three years until aged 79.

The group were also asked how often they played games like cards, chess, bingo or crosswords — at ages 70 and 76.

Researchers used statistical models to analyse the relationship between a person’s level of game playing and their thinking skills.

The team took into account the results of an intelligence test that the participants sat when they were 11 years old.

They also considered lifestyle factors, such as education, socio-economic status and activity levels.

People who increased game playing in later years were found to have experienced fewer declines in thinking skills in their seventies — particularly in memory function and thinking speed.

Researchers say the findings help to better understand what kinds of lifestyles and behaviours might be associated with better outcomes for cognitive health in later life.

The study may also help people make decisions about how best to protect their thinking skills as they age.

Dr Drew Altschul, of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said, “These findings add to evidence that being more engaged in activities during the life course might be associated with better thinking skills in later life. For those in their 70s or beyond, another message seems to be that playing non-digital games may be a positive behaviour in terms of reducing cognitive decline.”

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, added, “Even though some people’s thinking skills can decline as we get older, this research is further evidence that it doesn’t have to be inevitable.”

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