Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


#14 Brain Teaser: Party For Polyglots

We are delighted to introduce you to Wes Carroll who has graciously created a few new puzzles to bend all those sharp brains out there! Wes Carroll

Wes is the head of Do The Math private tutoring services, Puzzle Master for the Ask A Scientist lecture series, and an internationally touring performer and teacher of music. With no further ado, the first puzzle!

Party For Polyglots

Difficulty: MEDIUM

Of the 100 people at a recent party, 90 spoke Spanish, 80 spoke Italian, and 75 spoke Mandarin. At least how many spoke all three languages?

Have you solved it yet? If you are working the problem, making hypotheses, testing your ideas, and coming up with a solution, you are using your frontal lobes. This is great exercise because the frontal lobes follow the “last hired, first fired” adage. They are they last areas of your brain to develop and the first to suffer the ravages of time and stress. So, keep exercising them!


10 could not speak Spanish, 20 could not speak Italian, and 25 could not speak Mandarin. So there could have been 10 people who spoke none of those languages.

However, that would maximize the number of people who could speak all three, and the problem asks at least how many speak all three. Therefore, we must assume that these 10, 20, and 25 people are all separate people. Having identified 55 each of whom is missing one language, the remaining 45 speak all three.

Next brain teaser in SharpBrains’ top 25 series:

Stress Management Test

Here’s a quick test to determine your stress level.  Read the following description completely before looking at the picture.

The picture below was used in a case study on stress levels at St. Mary’s Hospital. Look at both dolphins jumping out of the water. The dolphins are identical. A closely monitored, scientific study revealed that, in spite of the fact that the dolphins are identical, a person under stress would find differences between the two dolphins. The more differences a person finds between the dolphins, the more stress that person is experiencing.

Look at the photograph, and if you find more than one or two differences, you may want to take a vacation or at least get a massage.

–> CLICK HERE to see the picture before reading more.

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I have to exercise my brain, too

I was exposed to a fun brain exercise on Monday: attend my first-ever live TV program, be ready for 3 very precise questions…and then be asked others.

The anchors were fun. It was fascinating to observe, behind the scenes, the making of a news program: constant last-minute apparent chaos, the lawyer in the “ask the lawyer” segment nowhere to be found…but everyone seem to had a fun time. And good mental stimulation-as long as they manage stress well.

Here you have the 3-minute clip from the local CBS’ Good Day Sacramento program, with a brief Q&A and a couple of brain teasers (Count the Fs and Stroop Test).

The 3 questions I was expecting were:

– What is Brain Awareness Week? see Dana’s and partners’ outreach events worldwide.

– What is SharpBrains? see Our Vision for Brain and Mind Fitness.

– What is the involvement of SharpBrains during Brain Awareness Week? check Brain Awareness Week.

Next time I will give more clear directions and maybe improve my English a bit too if I can…

If you want more teasers, here you have Top 10 Brain Teasers.

Brain Workout for Your Frontal Lobes

Your frontal lobes are home to your executive functions, including pattern recognition. Here’s a puzzle to challenge your ability to uncover a pattern.

In this puzzle, three numbers: 16, 14, and 38, need to be assigned to one of the rows of numbers below. To which row should each number be assigned – A, B, or C?

A: 0 6 8 9 3
B: 5 13 2 10 16
C: 7 1 47 11 17

Why do we care about pattern recognition skills? Well, if you’re an athlete, then you want to constantly improve your ability to see spatial patterns on the court or field quickly so you can act on them – by passing to open space or attacking the goal at the right moment. Stock traders look for patterns in the market behavior to guide them on buying and selling decisions. Chess masters are experts at recognizing complicated moves. Reading is also pattern recognition.

So, you use pattern recognition all the time whether you know it or not. But remember, using a skill is great, but you have to keep exercising it a little bit harder each time to develop it further.

Have you solved the puzzle yet? If not, here’s a hint:
It’s not a mathematical problem. The numerical values are irrelevant.

Keep reading for the answer
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