Oct 20, 2006
By: Caroline Latham
Exercise multiple areas of your brain by trying to answer this riddle:
A blind beggar had a brother who died. What relation was
the blind beggar to the brother who died?
“Brother” is not the answer.
Now, your brain’s turn. What is the answer?
tick tick tick tick…
still working on it? …
Explanation (answer at bottom):
This puzzle is very simply stated and yet stumps those who have not heard it before, because the listener tends to make an implicit assumption about gender — in this case that a blind beggar is a man.
This puzzle touches on analytical functions like abstract reasoning, hypothesis testing, and implicit assumptions residing in your frontal lobes, as well as your creativity in finding novel solutions to problems and emotional memory.
The brain region most strongly implicated in emotional memory is the amygdala. The amygdala is critically involved in calculating the emotional significance of events, and, through its connection to brain regions dealing with sensory experiences, also appears to be responsible for the influence of emotion on perception — alerting us to notice emotionally significant events even when we’re not paying attention. The amygdala appears to be particularly keyed to negative experiences. But it is not only the amygdala that is involved in this complex interaction. The cerebellum, most strongly associated with motor coordination skills, may also be involved in remembering strong emotions, in particular, in the consolidation of long-term memories of fear. Parts of the prefrontal cortex also appear to be involved. One study found that a region of the prefrontal cortex was jointly influenced by a combination of mood state and cognitive task, but not by either one alone. Another study found that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is more active when the participants were surprised by unexpected responses.
The blind beggar was the sister of her brother, who died.