Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Mental Imagery and Spatial Rotation Brain Teaser

Here’s a fun puz­zle that a friend gave me over din­ner a few days ago …

How do you cut a cake into eight equal pieces with only three cuts?
the cake in the puz­zle is not nec­es­sar­ily the one pic­tured below

mental rotation task

You have to use your men­tal rota­tion and men­tal imagery skills to visu­al­ize the answer for this puz­zle. In doing so, you are using your visual cor­tex in the occip­i­tal lobes, your somatosen­sory cor­tex in your pari­etal lobes, and your exec­u­tive func­tions in your frontal lobes to help cre­ate and eval­u­ate your hypotheses.

Answer: Use two cuts to cut the cake into four equal pieces. Use your third cut to cut the four pieces in half hor­i­zon­tally (per­pen­dic­u­lar to the first two cuts).

PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Brain Teaser: Dr. Nasty’s Giant Cube

Here is another mind-bender cre­ated by Wes Car­roll for the Sharp­Brains readers.

Pre­sent­ing …
Dr. Nasty’s Giant Cube

Dif­fi­culty: HARDER
Type: HYBRID (Logic/Spatial)

The dia­bol­i­cal Dr. Nasty has turned his Growth Ray on a per­fect cube that used to mea­sure one foot on a side. The new larger cube has twice the sur­face area of the orig­i­nal. Find the vol­ume of the larger cube.

cube brain teaser

Click to read Hint #1.

Click to read Hint #2.

Click to read Hint #3.

Click to read Hint #4.

Click to read the Solu­tion and Expla­na­tion.

Brain Teaser: Party For Polyglots & Introducing Wes Carroll, Puzzle Master

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! Just like your vol­un­tary mus­cles, reg­u­lar brain work­outs will help you keep more active neu­ronal cir­cuits in your brain which helps you func­tion bet­ter today, as well as cre­ate a pro­tec­tive bar­rier against aging.


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.


PS: Enjoy these 50 brain teasers to test your cog­ni­tive abil­ity. Free, and fun for adults of any age!

Brain Teaser for Stress

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

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.

Exercise Your Brains — Visual Logic Brain Teaser

In which direc­tion is the bus pic­tured below traveling?

school bus attention game

Do you know the answer?

The only pos­si­ble answers are “left” or “right.”

Still don’t know?

Keep read­ing for the answer and explanation…

Read the rest of this entry »

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
Read the rest of this entry »


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