- The game “Wordle” has become very popular on social media.
- “Wordle” is a word game where people must guess a five-letter word in six tries.
- Experts say that games like “Wordle” are great for brain health.
- In addition, they can help boost people’s mood when they are feeling low.
- Other activities, like physical exercise and socialization, can also help maintain cognitive health.
Even if you haven’t played “Wordle,” you’ve probably seen the distinctive green, yellow, and white blocks that accompany its scores popping up in your social media feed.
However, if you’ve been resisting jumping on the “Wordle” bandwagon, you may want to reconsider.
Experts say games such as this are a great way to give your brain a daily workout and are very good for your cognitive health.
They can also help boost your mood.
For the uninitiated, “Wordle” is a word game that presents you with six empty rows of five blocks. For each turn, you must guess what five-letter word fills the blocks. If you get the letter and its placement correct, it shows up green.
If you get the letter correct but its placement is wrong, it turns yellow.
Incorrect letters are gray.
For the next row of blocks, you must take what you’ve learned from your first attempt and make another guess.
The object of “Wordle” is simple: You must guess what the word is before you run out of rows, ideally in as few tries as possible.
According to Dr. Douglas Scharre, a neurologist and director of the Center for Cognitive and Memory Disorders at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, solving a daily crossword puzzle or playing a word game like “Wordle” is great for brain health.
“It’s important to challenge yourself to new problem-solving exercises,” said Scharre.
“Puzzles and games, especially those involving novelty, can stimulate and challenge key parts of the brain, including reasoning, language, logic, visual perception, attention, and flexibility,” he said.
Scharre noted it’s also a great way to help prevent a decline in your cognitive health as you age.
He said the sharpness of a person’s cognitive skills falls into the “use it or lose it” category, and that most cognitive scientists believe that the more you exercise your brain, the healthier it will be.
“Using your brain in any way is thought to build up new connections between nerve cells in the brain,” he explained. “This increases your brain reserve, so to speak.”
Scharre further noted that playing games like “Wordle” would probably help anyone who has cognitive issues, whether that is from head trauma, a stroke, sleep apnea, or other conditions affecting thinking ability.
Ulrich Mayr, DrPhil, is the Robert and Beverly Lewis Professor in Neuroscience at the University of Oregon. He’s also an expert in the aging of the mind and brain, and changes in psychological functioning across the human life span.
He told Healthline that anyone who is feeling down and enjoys activities like word games can benefit from playing “Wordle.”
“Any activity that is fun [and] engaging… is good for us,” he said, “in particular when compared to alternatives, such as passively watching TV or dealing with worrying thoughts about the pandemic or other issues.”
Mayr noted that the social component of “Wordle” is another positive attribute of the game since social connections are known to promote health as well as thinking ability.
“In times of crises, it is hard to have social connections not being dominated by negative thoughts and themes,” he said.
“Therefore, a joint fun activity can provide a vehicle to reestablish positive connections that are not tainted by the negativity and stress around us,” Mayr said.
If you really don’t like word games, though, there are other activities you can do that can provide the same health benefits.
“The big one is physical exercise,” said Mayr, “which shows the most consistent (albeit still small) positive effects on cognitive functioning.”
“There is also evidence that maintaining complex and purposeful activities post-retirement is a critical factor in maintaining cognitive functioning,” he added.
Scharre seconded the idea of getting physical exercise, adding that socialization is also a great way to provide your brain with stimulation.
In addition, Scharre said other puzzles, games, problem-solving activities, dancing, singing, playing musical instruments, and sports can all provide your brain with the challenge that it needs.