A Scottish study indicates that self-reported intellectual engagement (in the form of performing puzzles, crosswords and other problem-solving activities) during later life has little influence on the trajectory of decline of memory or mental processing speed.
The cognitive reserve hypothesis does appear to hold true, however, in that engaging in intellectually stimulating activities, life-long, has the potential to enhance mental ability (before the onset of cognitive impairment) and so establish a “higher cognitive start point” from which age-related cognitive decline will subtract.
Puzzle solving ‘won’t stop mental decline’. London: BBC Health News, December 11th 2018.
This relates to:
Staff, RT. Hogan, MJ. [and] Williams, DS. [et al] (2018). Intellectual engagement and cognitive ability in later life (the “use it or lose it” conjecture): longitudinal, prospective study. BMJ. December 10th 2018; 363: k4925.
Further impartial analysis from NHS Digital (previously NHS Choices) Behind the Headlines:
Puzzle-solving ‘doesn’t slow down mental decline in older people’. London: NHS Digital (previously NHS Choices), Behind the Headlines, December 11th 2018.