Competitive Scrabble May Make You Smarter

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CALGARY, Alberta, Aug. 18 (UPI) — Competitive Scrabble players develop visual word recognition ability in adulthood — beyond what Canadian researchers say they thought was achievable.

Penny Pexman, a professor of psychology at the University of Calgary, and colleagues say in their study Scrabble players were able to recognize English words — compared with nonsense words — 20 percent faster than non-Scrabble players.

Researchers say competitive players, who dedicate large amounts of time to studying the 180,000 words listed in the Official Tournament and Club Word List, processed words more quickly and were better able to recognize words oriented vertically.

“The average literate adult relies on three components to process and read a word: sound, spelling and meaning,” Pexman says in a statement. “When we studied the Scrabble players, we found that there is significant flexibility in the tools they use to read words and that it can include the orientation of the word as well.”

The study, published in Memory and Cognition, found the Scrabble players showed less difference in the time it took to recognize a word as real when it was positioned vertically than they did for a horizontal word, whereas non-Scrabble players are much slower in reading vertically.

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