University of São Paulo: Hobby games boost brain health

NoIn early 2022, the internet was dominated by eerie posts that displayed sequences of green, yellow, and black blocks. Such posts allowed social media users to share their scores on Wordle, a viral word guessing game, without giving away a spoiler for those who had not yet completed the daily challenge.

Created by Josh Wardle, Wordle – whose title is a pun that combines the author’s last name and the English term word , which means word – is an online puzzle that proposes the player to discover a secret five-letter word by day, in up to six attempts. The hobby was so successful that versions in Portuguese soon appeared, such as the games and Letreco, which work in the same way.

According to Sonia Maria Dozzi Brucki, a neurologist at the Hospital das Clínicas, Faculty of Medicine, USP, in addition to offering a fun distraction, games like Wordle can help in the formation of new neurons, the cells responsible for transmitting brain nerve impulses. “Any kind of intellectual activity will make you create new synapses,” says the doctor.

With each game, the player needs to develop a new line of reasoning, which stimulates neurogenesis in different brain areas. In this way, even games based on repetition, such as Wordle himself, which presents players with the same challenge daily – the only change is the word that must be found –, are beneficial for amplifying synapses.

Other everyday factors can also enhance brain functioning: Sonia suggests combining intellectual activities with physical and social activities, as well as with an adequate and healthy diet. “A good diet is one that has little red meat and dairy products, but lots of fish, nuts, vegetables, legumes and oils,” she explains. The control of diseases such as diabetes, hypertension and changes in cholesterol is also an important aspect for the good maintenance of neurons. “In addition, it is essential to treat depression, if the person has it; correct sensory changes such as hearing and visual disorders and also not smoking, because cigarettes are harmful to blood circulation”, continues the neurologist.

Fun allied to health
There are no more or less recommended pastimes for the conservation of brain health: the activity must be chosen based on individual preferences. Games, reading, listening to music, gardening, studying other languages ​​and even cleaning are exercises that can contribute to brain vitality. “An interesting activity, too, and one that encourages social interaction, are card and board games. There is a huge infinity [of games of the type]. But the important thing is that the person does everything with joy, with good humor, with happiness, it’s no use wanting someone to perform an activity without having any desire”, concludes Sonia.

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