Do you keep forgetting people's faces, or find yourself saying "Hello Vinod" whenever you meet Tony?
According to a study by Michael B Lewis, a senior lecturer at Cardiff University, cryptic crosswords are to blame for this.
In its series of articles on Improbable Research, the Guardian carries a report today about this study, which brings out a chilling dimension of the game.
Crossword puzzles are a threat to the criminal justice system. Indeed, they may have been doing damage for decades, causing guilty persons to be set free and innocent ones to become enmeshed in hellish entanglements with the courts and jails.
The actual study that this article talks about is reported here. In the experiment, sixty participants were made to do the following activities before the task of facial recognition:
- read a passage from Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code
- solve a Sudoku puzzle
- solve a literal crossword
- solve a cryptic crossword
Accuracy scores for face-recognition were plotted on a graph (page 1435 in the report) against the activity performed immediately before. The outcome - "performance in the cryptic crossword condition was considerably poorer than in the other conditions".
The experiment concludes that:
…doing a cryptic crossword leads to a detriment in face processing. Further, sudoku, literal crosswords, and reading do not have the same effect.
I only hope I never have to be eye-witness at an identity parade.