Josh Jackson of Washington University in St. Louis looked at data on people with an average age of 73 who had 16 weeks of training, including figuring out patterns and doing Sudoku and crossword puzzles.
Jackson said the important finding was the elderly did better because they learned to do new things.
"It looks like those things are positive. So to the extent that people can get out in the world, try new things, exercise their minds -- that's all for the best," Jackson said in a statement. "Older people trained in thinking on how to use skills to solve puzzles then felt more open to other experiences."
The study was published in the journal Psychology and Aging.