Could crosswords be the clue to good mental health in old age?

Could a daily sudoku help keep Alzheimer's at bay? For some time, there has been a growing belief that puzzles and games might have a part to play in keeping mentally healthy. Some computer games have even been specifically developed to this end.

Now some new research has cast doubt on the theory. The research, carried out by Edinburgh University, has confirmed those who do crosswords and other puzzles are more likely to have better thinking skills.

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But the explanation is not that crosswords are boosting thinking skills - instead, the research has shown that it is those people who were bright as children anyway that are likely to be interested in crosswords later in life.

This doesn't mean people should give up crosswords, though, or dismiss them as a waste of time. Far from it.

As Professor Ian Deary of Edinburgh University says, we may not know yet if puzzles keep the brain fitter but what we do know is that a crossword or sudoku engages the mind.

We also know they can be fun - and that is the best reason of all to do them.