Good news! Playing competitive Scrabble can make you smarter. If you play Scrabble often, you know the best strategy to win is not knowing more words than your opponent, an effective player has to be able to find words quickly in a mess of letters. A team of Canadian researchers found that if you improve this skill, it can change the way you use your brain!
The study showed that competitive Scrabble players are better at word fluency, vocabulary, and anagrams. They also are faster at making lexical decisions (i.e., Is this a word?)
It doesn’t matter if you know the definition of KWANZA (22 points) or MBAQANGAS (23 points) or TALAQ (14 points), to excel at Scrabble you just have to be able to recognize that it is a word.
“They were able to sort of de-emphasize the contribution of meanings. They didn’t need to rely on it as much. They could just make the decision based on sight alone,” says Ian Hargreaves, the lead researcher in the study. “Scrabble players have honed their ability to recognize words such that they have actually changed the process of reading words.”
Why does this matter? This shows for the first time adults are able to develop visual word recognition ability. According to the researchers, the Scrabble players used greater flexibility in the tools used to read the words.
If you play Scrabble often, that could mean that you become a visual word recognition expert. The study showed that the Scrabble players don’t rely on the meaning of the words but are still better at accessing the authenticity of the word.
Another thing that Scrabble layers are better at is anagrams, which is the ability to form a word or phrase by rearranging a sequence of letters. To get the most points out of a word, you need to be able to utilize the double and triple word score. Knowing anagrams can help you get more points, and it improves your ability to solve visual word recognition tasks.
To increase your brain power and the way you think, pull out the Scrabble board and the dictionary this weekend! While it is not vital that you know all the definitions, you should study as many words as possible and get practicing!
For all the Scrabble lovers in your life, check out our line of homemade Scrabble gifts.