Puzzles. They improve our vocabularies, mitigate our boredom, keep our minds keen and our detective skills in fine working order.
I’m always expounding on the many benefits of a puzzly lifestyle, and wouldn’t you know it, I’ve discovered yet another way that puzzles make our lives better.
Apparently, according to researchers at Western Washington University, they can also help us fight back against the musical scourge known as earworms.
Earworms are also known as those pop songs that get stuck in your head and play over and over, driving us nuts while we try to concentrate on other things. But Dr. Ira Hyman of WWU says that puzzles can engage enough of your cognitive resources to force out the offending tunes.
Sudoku puzzles are effective (so long as they’re not too difficult) but verbal puzzles like anagrams proved the most effective, keeping enough of the brain busy with 5-letter alternatives to prevent those annoying songs from maintaining their grip on a subject’s attention.
So the next time the latest obnoxious pop hit crawls into your brainspace, grab a puzzle book and fight back.
(Naturally, as a proper puzzle scientist, I can’t wait to independently confirm their findings by locking some friends in a room with a few puzzle books and blasting Cotton Eye Joe over and over again. That’s just due diligence. *smile*)
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