Brain Teasers to Exercise Our Minds: Our Top Five

Here you have 4 of the most pop­u­lar brain games in our blog, plus a bonus stress man­age­ment tip.

Brain Teas­er 1. In which direc­tion is the bus pic­tured below traveling?


Do you know the answer?

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

Still don’t know?

When pre-school chil­dren were shown this pic­ture and ques­tion, they all answered “left.” When asked why, they answered “Because you can’t see the door.”

Believe it or not, this sim­ple teas­er gen­er­at­ed a very live­ly con­tro­ver­sy with over  50 comments…some of my favorites “I’ve been look­ing at the bus for a long time now and it is not mov­ing at all” (Peter), “Fools! It is falling, because there is no ground under it! How’s that for log­ic? (Richard), and “I would like to reit­er­ate that this draw­ing looks like a UFO, and could, there­fore, be mov­ing in any direc­tion” (todios).

Brain Teas­er 2. You think you know the colors?

Young-old Quick! say aloud what col­or you see in every word, NOT the word you read.
Not that easy, right?

The Stroop test is used in neu­ropsy­cho­log­i­cal eval­u­a­tions to mea­sure men­tal vital­i­ty and flex­i­bil­i­ty, since per­form­ing well requires strong inhi­bi­tion capacity.

Brain Teas­er 3. Can You Pay Attention?

basketballPlease try this fun exper­i­ment. You will watch a brief video clip show­ing two teams, and your chal­lenge is to count the num­ber of pass­es made by the team in white.

Click Here to view the Bas­ket­ball Exper­i­ment clip.

Brain Teas­er 4.  Find the Homographs

Dr. Pas­cale Mich­e­lon cre­at­ed this one. In the col­umn below you have five pairs of words. Your goal is to find a third word that is con­nect­ed or asso­ci­at­ed with both of these two words.

The first pair is PIANO and LOCK. The answer is KEY. The word key is con­nect­ed with both the word piano and the word lock: there are KEYS on a piano and you use a KEY to lock doors.

Key is what is called a homo­graph: a word that has more than one mean­ing but is always spelled the same.

Ready to stim­u­late con­nec­tions in your tem­po­ral lobe? Enjoy! (Solu­tions are at the bot­tom of the post. Please don’t check them until you have tried to solve all the pairs!)






Brain Teas­er 5. Have We Stressed You Out?

Here is a very quick test to deter­mine your stress lev­el now. 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.


Solu­tions to Brain Game 4:


2. SHIP — CARD > Deck

3. TREE — CAR > Trunk

4. SCHOOL — EYE > Pupil (Exam and Pri­vate are also possible)

5. PILLOW — COURT > Case

If you liked this exer­cise, you can find more pairs of words at Words in your brain.


I hope you are hav­ing a great week­end! How did you do?

Posted in


  1. James on July 6, 2008 at 9:54

    For the 4th brain game num­ber 2: Ship — Card
    anoth­er answer is “Deal­er” (deal­er­ship, card dealer)

  2. Doug Kyle on July 7, 2008 at 1:20

    Very fun post! For Brain Game #4, I’d also sub­mit “Park” for the rela­tion between Tree and Car… but per­haps only for geo­gra­phies that call park­ing garages “Car Parks”.

  3. Gabrielle on July 7, 2008 at 8:54

    Ship — card = board?

  4. Gabrielle on July 7, 2008 at 8:56

    I would nev­er be able to answer the bus ques­tion because in my home city, bus­es have doors on both sides.

  5. Sharif on July 12, 2008 at 7:47

    The bus looks like it going away from you and you are look­ing at the tail­lights. And am I the only one that sees a cow in the pic­ture with dol­phin? I do get mas­sage every oth­er week…matbe should change to once a week.

  6. Alvaro on July 14, 2008 at 12:36

    Sharif, do please let us know if a week­ly mas­sage helps you see otherwise…

  7. Catherine on July 21, 2008 at 12:21

    The first word that popped into my head with ‘pil­low — court’ was ‘SHAM’! I’m not a cyn­i­cal per­son, I do have a rea­son­able lev­el of belief in our jus­tice sys­tem. (Real­ly.) It was just my sense of word­play humor indulging a bit­ing moment.

  8. Martin on July 22, 2008 at 8:08

    Very good, Cather­ine. I like that!

  9. Jim on August 15, 2008 at 4:51

    The ship — card con­nec­tion could also be “hold”

  10. Jim on August 15, 2008 at 4:54

    … and what’s this bogus sto­ry about the door not show­ing? The bus has no driver!

  11. Grace on August 27, 2008 at 5:00

    My ini­tial answer to what direc­tion the bus was trav­el­ling was ‘for­ward’.

  12. Suni Mills on August 28, 2008 at 3:57

    I am a teacher who is teach­ing about brain devel­ope­ment. I have no bud­get so look for free infor­ma­tion on the net.

  13. Juanita on September 14, 2008 at 8:01

    I love this site!

  14. serena on September 21, 2008 at 2:22

    I said not trav­el­ing — the wheels aren’t connected.

  15. serena on September 21, 2008 at 2:30

    For word pairs 2–4 I got oth­er answers that work: board, phone, and fish.

  16. AB on December 24, 2008 at 6:26

    for school and eye, you can also use the word “bag”.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS is an independent think-tank and consulting firm providing services at the frontier of applied neuroscience, health, leadership and innovation.

English About SharpBrains

SHARPBRAINS es un think-tank y consultoría independiente proporcionando servicios para la neurociencia aplicada, salud, liderazgo e innovación.

Top Articles on Brain Health and Neuroplasticity

Top 10 Brain Teasers and Illusions


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