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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

The answer is that the num­bers are orga­nized by shape! Look at Row A — they are all round­ed shapes. Row C is all lin­ear shapes. And Row B is a mix of curves and lines. There­fore, 16 goes to B, 14 goes to C, and 38 goes to A.


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

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7 Responses

  1. jjj says:

    yea…I did this prob­lem in 7 sec­onds yet my IQ is 135. I guess that means …I have a good frontal lobe?

    I am gen­er­aly cre­ative and can think of many pos­si­bil­i­ties to an answer…that is why I usu­al­ly do bad­ly on mul­ti­ple choice because I see pat­terns that are .…pos­si­ble, but not the ‘cor­rect’ ones.

  2. jjj says:

    the frontal lobe if it does­n’t cor­re­late with IQ must not have much relevence in today’s soci­ety? no, that would be wrong cor­rect?

  3. Alvaro says:

    hel­lo jjj,

    1) It is great that you see cre­ative options (diver­gent think­ing). You just need to com­ple­ment that with con­ver­gent think­ing to ana­lyze alter­na­tives and select the most like­ly one.

    2) IQ is a crit­i­cal com­po­nent of intel­li­gence if you want to be an engi­neer or sim­i­lar quan­ti­ta­tive jobs. The frontal lobes allow you to under­stand your envi­ron­ment, adapt, set goals, plan, exe­cute your plans…so they are crit­i­cal for every­thing.

  4. Yomanda says:

    38 — a
    16 — b
    14 — c

  5. Julie says:

    I got the cor­rect answers, but for entire­ly dif­fer­ent rea­sons than stat­ed above in the ‘answer’.
    I assigned the num­bers (38,16,14) to let­ter rows already con­tain­ing both dig­its of the num­bers need­ing to be assigned.
    Did every­one else notice that?

  6. ab says:

    for some rea­son i just could not look at the numer­i­cal fig­ures and assign sim­i­lar­i­ties to them besides qual­i­ta­tive obser­va­tions… which left me very con­fused. i guess being a math major was work­ing against me

  7. rajesh says:

    @julie .…
    yes even i noticed the same thing…but some­how that pat­tern did­nt felt that con­vinc­ing

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As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters,  SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking how brain science can improve our health and our lives.

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