LOS ANGELES (CBS) — “Zax”. “Ilex.” “Qat.”
If you can spell these short but unusual words, chances are you may be a Scrabble junkie — and maybe just a little bit sharper than your peers .
A study by Canadian researchers has found a statistically measurable difference in mental and behavioral competency between those people who played Scrabble regularly and those who did not.
Psychology professor Penny Pexman of the University of Calgary told KNX 1070 the results have much to do with the ability to recognize anagrams and other letter combinations.
“The people we studied were playing competitive Scrabble,” said Pexman. “They meet with a weekly Scrabble club, enter tournaments and they do quite a bit of practice, but yes, they showed some pretty remarkable skills.”
Researchers said the data essentially shows players not only demonstrate a more thorough command of language, but frequent playing also enhances their analytic skills as well.
“One of our collaborators is a very good Scrabble player, and he’s also a physician, and he really feels like when he’s coming up with a medical diagnosis, he benefits from all the Scrabble practice,” said Pexman.
The study — which was not funded by Hasbro — looked at “very strong experts” in Scrabble and compared them with adults who were similar in nearly all other facets outside of their experience playing the classic game.
Pexman said while technically the result don’t point to an increase in IQ, there is a sharp boost in mental acuity for regular players.
“We saw big effects in terms of their behavior, the advances they showed in mental flexibility and word recognition,” she said. “You don’t need to go to the same lengths to see some benefit.”