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Puzzles give you a sharper brain in later life, say researchers

Sophie Schnepp runs the daily crossword at Age UK Exeter. Photo: ITV News

Older people who regularly tackle puzzles have brains 10 years younger than their actual age, say researchers from the University of Exeter.

In a study which surveyed 17,000 people over the age of 50, they found regularly doing crosswords, word searches or sudokus helped to improve brain function in later life.

"We know that keeping an active mind can help reduce decline and the research has shown that people who do crosswords can have a healthier brain later in life," said a spokesperson for Alzheimer's UK.

The maths behind the puzzles. Credit: ITV News

At Age UK Exeter, a puzzle group completes crosswords and word searches every day. The organisers say they've seen a huge improvement in memory and communication skills. It's something which is even more impressive considering most of the participants are over the age of 90.

  • Watch the Power of Puzzles at AgeUK Exeter

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Sophie Schnepp who runs the workshop says she's benefited from doing the puzzles after suffering her own brain injury.

"I know how much difference it made to me and I learnt from that. That's why I put so much time into making these crosswords for people who come to Age UK Exeter," said Sophie.

  • Can you answer the puzzle below?

At a toddler’s birthday party, three mums Alice, Beth, and Chloe started chatting. Little did they know that they all had small chocolate-cake handprints on their dresses. Each of the mums started laughing for they each could see at least one other mum with a stained dress. Suddenly, Chloe stopped laughing. Given that the mothers were all excellent at logic, how had Chloe deduced that her own dress was spoiled?

It was set by Dr Gihan Marasingha, senior lecturer in mathematics at the University of Exeter