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Keywords:

  • verbal fluency;
  • aging;
  • cognitive reserve;
  • crosswords;
  • intervention

Objective

Phonemic verbal fluency (PVF) is a cognitive function that involves serial processes termed clustering and switching and which is impacted in both normal aging and dementia. The cognitive reserve hypothesis suggests that appropriate cognitive stimulation could maintain or improve cognitive performance. This study examines the effect on PVF performance of a brief crossword-based intervention in a cognitively normal, community-based sample.

Methods

Thirty-seven members of active retirement groups volunteered to participate and were randomly assigned to a crossword group and a control group. The former attempted a crossword daily for 4 weeks while the latter kept a daily gratitude diary for the same period.

Results

2 × 2 mixed analyses of variance revealed that the crossword group performed significantly better over time than the control group in both total PVF score and in the cluster size component.

Conclusion

Daily crosswords may be a simple and effective means of bolstering PVF performance in older people. Copyright © 2014 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.