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Do brain games help prevent Alzheimer's?

Published: September 2013

Q: Is it true that number games like Sudoku and KenKen help protect the brain—and even stave off Alzheimer’s disease?

A: Possibly. Age and genetics are the main determinants of a person’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Lifestyle factors such as a poor diet and lack of exercise may also play a role. But a recent study of 294 adults 55 and older in the journal Neurology suggested that more frequent cognitive activity across a life­span may help slow cognitive decline even in people whose brains show signs of dementia. Mentally stimulating activities may improve the connections between brain cells and even help generate new nerve cells. Such stimulation can come from games like crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and chess, or from hobbies as diverse as reading, learning a new language, attending lectures, quilting, gardening, or volunteering.

Editor's Note: This article appeared in the October 2013 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.
   

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