Is Playing ‘Wordle’ Good for Your Brain?
Mar 1, 2022
Ashley Boarman
Woman using mobile device at home

B-R-A-I-N

P-O-W-E-R

These five-letter words are solid Wordle plays.

If you have no idea what we’re talking about, let us get you up to speed. Wordle is not a sound you make, rather it is a web-based word game that’s been described as fun, simple and, like a crossword, can only be played once a day. While taking part certainly cannot be bad for you, our Vitals editors wondered if playing might actually do a person’s head some good.

To help us find out, we asked neurologist Dr. Armen Moughamian to weigh in.

Dr. Moughamian is the medical director of the Ray Dolby Brain Health Center and division chief of neurology at Sutter’s California Pacific Medical Center, and, as it turns out, is fan of Wordle.

“We do it as a family most nights,” he says.

As far as evidence for it being helpful for brain health, Dr. Moughamian says the short answer is that “there is no evidence that Wordle, specifically, is good for the brain…however, it definitely can’t hurt.”

According to Dr. Moughamian, when it comes to stimulating the brain, doing something is better than nothing. He says “that something” should be activities that promote thinking, creativity and learning. But, he offers, there’s no convincing evidence that one activity is better than another.

“If a patient asks me if they should do Wordle, I will say ‘sure’ as long as they can do it and enjoy it,” he says.

The medical director of the Sutter Neuroscience Memory Clinic, headquartered in Sacramento, agrees.

“I encourage my patients to engage in cognitive activities, including playing brain games,” said Dr. Shawn Kile, who is also the department chair of neurology at Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento. “This helps strengthen the brain’s cognitive reserve, and there is evidence that cognitive activity is associated with a lower risk of dementia.”

Wordle aside, can a person ‘boost’ brain function?

Cognitive exercise can help strengthen weaknesses in the brain and, in some cases, allow people to form new neural pathways. This is especially important for people with Alzheimer’s disease or people who have had a brain injury.

“Learning new things is good for your brain in all phases of life,” says Dr. Moughamian. And what’s more, a person can improve their cognitive reserve by challenging their brain while it’s healthy and strong, he says.

But it’s not the only way. Dr. Moughamian also advises that some of the best ways to keep your brain healthy include getting mental stimulation and physical exercise, improving your diet (think fatty fish, blueberries, turmeric), avoiding tobacco and excessive consumption of alcohol, building up your social networks, clocking plenty of zzz’s – between seven and nine hours each night – and caring for your emotions.

For more advice on brain health, check out Sutter’s Healthy Brain Guide.

Concerned about your brain health?

If you’ve noticed changes in your memory or cognitive function, Dr. Moughamian says it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor. A wide number of factors contribute to brain health, and your doctor can help you determine what’s normal and when you might need help.

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