Can breezing through Monday’s crossword puzzle or sailing through a beginner sudoku game help ward off Alzheimer’s disease or increase your brain power? Not exactly, say Maximum Brainpower: Challenging the Brain for Health and Wisdom authors Shlomo Breznitz and Collins Hemingway.
Brenzitz, a cognitive psychologist, and Hemingway, a technologist, explain that if the brain can easily figure out the answers to a puzzle, the brain fitness returns are minimal at best. On the other hand, pushing your brain too hard can be discouraging, so the best way to maximize your brainpower is to find puzzles at a level that allow you to warm up with a few easy answers, focus your attention on the majority of the answers but struggle enough so you are unable to complete it entirely. Once you can handily complete the puzzle at hand it’s time to move on to the next level.
Ready to train your brain? USA Today offers different levels of crossword puzzles and other word games that you can play online or on your smartphone. Or, check out The New York Times Crossword Puzzle books, available from Easiest to Toughest.