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  • Writer's pictureLorna Fedelem, MD

National Crossword Puzzle Day

Unravel the mysteries and challenge your mind with a fun crossword puzzle on this National Crossword Puzzle Day and prevent your brain from shrinking in the process!

Get your pencils ready and join the celebration of National Crossword Puzzle Day on December 21! This special day commemorates the very first crossword puzzle that was published in 1913, a feat that marked an incredible milestone in word game history. Since then, these puzzles have been enjoyed by people all over the world who love to solve brain teasers or just enjoy a good challenge.

Interestingly, a study published in the NEJM Evidence found that people with mild memory problems who did web-based crossword puzzles showed improvement in cognition and experienced less brain shrinkage, compared to those who played web-based cognitive games. In individuals with mild cognitive impairment and in those aging normally, the brain tends to shrink. Compared to playing online cognitive games, working on online crossword puzzles resulted in between 0.5% and 1% less shrinkage in both the hippocampus and the cortex over the course of the 18-month study. This is an impressive difference!

Why are crossword puzzles beneficial?

There are several reasons why working on crossword puzzles in daily life could improve your thinking and memory, and even slow the shrinking of your brain.

First, doing crossword puzzles is difficult, and many studies have shown that performing moderately difficult cognitive tasks is helpful for cognitive and brain health.

Second, a well-designed crossword puzzle engages multiple brain regions in your search for the right word. Moreover, crossword puzzle clues often force you to link concepts you hadn’t pictured together. These features mean that crossword puzzles cause large areas of your cortex to be active and stimulate new connections in your brain. The hippocampus will then remember those new connections, strengthening both your hippocampus and cortex.

Lastly, crossword puzzles are generally a social activity. Social activities like this have been linked to better connectivity between different parts of the brain.

How to Celebrate National Crossword Puzzle Day

Create your own crossword puzzle.

Design a unique crossword puzzle based on a theme of your choice and share it with family and friends. All you need is a pencil, paper, and a few words to get started.

Solve a crossword puzzle online.

In honor of National Crossword Puzzle Day, take on one of the many challenging puzzles available online. You can find puzzles in varying difficulty levels depending on your level of expertise.

Gather with family and friends to solve crosswords together.

Invite family, friends, and colleagues over for a night of crosswords. Assign each person a different puzzle and let the fun begin!

Visit a local bookstore.

Head over to your local bookstore and pick up some new crossword puzzle books or magazines. There are plenty of options from beginner to advanced difficulty levels.

Host a crossword tournament.

Organize a tournament in celebration of National Crossword Puzzle Day. Invite everyone to compete against each other in timed rounds to determine who’s the ultimate puzzler.

So, what are you waiting for? Pick up a crossword puzzle today and start improving your cognitive and brain health!


Call and schedule a complimentary meet and greet with Dr. Fedelem.

9150 Galleria Ct., Suite 200, Naples, FL 34109 | | 239.580.6390


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