|Although bingo skills have yet to show up on MENSA tests, new research suggests that playing bingo is the way to keep the mind sharp – and the older you are, the more agile your brain may be.|
Tests showed that bingo players were faster and more accurate than non-bingo players in a range of tests measuring mental speed, memory and the ability to pick up on environmental cues.
Bingo playing requires the ability to check numbers off quickly and rapid hand-eye co-ordination – skills that decline with age, according to popular wisdom. And unlike supposedly more cerebral games such as chess, backgammon and bridge, which need skills that are stored in the brain and remembered when required, bingo requires fast identification against the clock.
Julie Winstone, from the University of Southampton's Centre for Visual Cognition at the Department of Psychology has been testing bingo players' mental agility over the last year.
Winstone said it was suspected that long-term mental activity - such as bingo - could stave off the decline of cognitive abilities, such as speed and accuracy and recognition of patterns.
The research showed that bingo players were faster and more accurate than non-players, and in certain tasks, older players performed better than younger ones.
Ms Winstone said these findings were in line with a growing body of research, which suggested regularly taking part in activities which require high levels of mental activity helps to maintain cognitive functioning in later life.
Winstone said younger players were faster, but older ones were more accurate in tests.