It’s time to say happy birthday to our beloved crossword puzzle! The first one was published 100 years ago. In this short video about the crossword’s centennial, Mo Rocca interviews New York Times puzzle writer Will Shortz and Dan Feyer, four-time champion of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament and the best solver in the country. (We’ve interviewed Feyer on this blog before, which is worth a read.)



Now for the big question: do crosswords help you keep your brain sharp? A team of researchers from University of Iowa published the first study to directly compare brain training and crossword puzzles – and found that people who did BrainHQ fared better than those who did crosswords. The IHAMS Study looked at 681 healthy adults and found that study participants of all ages improved memory and brain processing speed with BrainHQ training, but not with crossword puzzles.

According to Dr. Merzenich, “the only way to keep your brain sharp with crossword puzzles is to challenge yourself continuously. That means you have to try a crossword that’s a bit beyond your abilities, or set a time limit for yourself, or add some other dimension that puts your brain at a challenging threshold.”

If you love crossword puzzles, you might want to try this brainy version, which will test your knowledge of all things cerebral.