A Brain Game to Tease your Frontal Skills

The frontal lobes of the brain (in gray here) have been com­pared to an orches­tra con­duc­tor, ­influ­enc­ing, direct­ing, and mod­er­at­ing many oth­er brain func­tions. Indeed, the frontal lobes sup­port the so-called exec­u­tive func­tions: deci­sion-mak­ing, prob­lem-solv­ing, plan­ning, inhibit­ing, as well as oth­er high-lev­el func­tions (social behav­ior, emo­tion­al con­trol, work­ing mem­o­ry, etc.). Ready for an exec­u­tive workout?

The func­tions of the frontal lobes are cru­cial for work and life in gen­er­al. How can we pre­serve and enhance these func­tions? Research tells us that cog­ni­tive or brain reserve (i.e., the brain’s resilience to pathol­o­gy) can be increased by men­tal exer­cise. Men­tal exer­cise has to be chal­leng­ing (to trig­ger the for­ma­tion of new synaps­es and neu­rons) and repeat­ed (a sin­gle teas­er will not affect your cog­ni­tive reserve but it is a good start!).

Here is an exam­ple of a chal­leng­ing exer­cise stim­u­lat­ing the func­tions of the frontal lobes. This teas­er will require you to: a) solve the mys­tery of the code by under­stand­ing the pro­vid­ed clue (prob­lem-solv­ing and inhi­bi­tion), b) decide on which strat­e­gy you will use to get back to the orig­i­nal mes­sage (deci­sion-mak­ing), and c) men­tal­ly trav­el the alpha­bet (work­ing mem­o­ry). Enjoy!

Can you deci­pher this mes­sage? You can leave your answer as a com­ment below.

Clue: Each let­ter in the orig­i­nal mes­sage (except the orange Y) has been replaced by anoth­er accord­ing to this rule: “Take each let­ter and replace it by the let­ter in the alpha­bet that is 3 posi­tions after it.”


J   R   R  G           M   R   E:        Y R  X          G  R        K  D  Y   H

D          E  U   D   L   Q !


Note: Do not write down the whole alpha­bet unless you real­ly need it.

Posted in


  1. Marki on December 13, 2010 at 8:40

    Good job: You do have a brain.

    The direc­tions are correct.

    The direc­tions were speak­ing to the per­son who ENCODED the orig­i­nal mes­sage. Because we are DECODING the mes­sage that is “in code”, we have to do the reverse of what the direc­tions say.

  2. Mrs. Life on December 14, 2010 at 4:50

    Ah okay, had to re-read the direc­tions mul­ti­ple times before I final­ly got it. Man, I need to brush up on more men­tal exer­cisea if I’m get­ting this dim.

  3. James on November 12, 2019 at 12:58

    Actu­al­ly, teas­ing your brain is great for long term men­tal health. Dane­si describes brain teasers as an oppor­tu­ni­ty to expand prob­lem solv­ing skills and think out­side of the box. Rid­dles and brain teasers com­pel the solver to cre­ative­ly work through the prob­lem and think of nov­el solu­tions. In an arti­cle from The Wash­ing­ton Post, Shanker Vedan­tam report­ed a study in which researchers took four groups of par­tic­i­pants and trained three of them in dif­fer­ent fields of men­tal cog­ni­tion: mem­o­ry, rea­son­ing, speed. The remain­ing group was left as a con­trol and was not trained. There were ten train­ing ses­sions for each group. Each ses­sion last­ed 75 min­utes. The study found that the groups trained in those skills per­formed sig­nif­i­cant­ly bet­ter than those in the con­trol group when test­ed five years after the train­ing. After half a decade, mem­o­ry-trained par­tic­i­pants showed bet­ter mem­o­ry capa­bil­i­ties, speed-trained par­tic­i­pants showed faster think­ing skills, and those trained in high­er rea­son­ing test­ed bet­ter in solv­ing log­ic puz­zles. Train­ing and teas­ing the human brain in this way can result in sim­i­lar, if not greater, long term ben­e­fits (espe­cial­ly if train­ing starts at a younger age). It s even fun to tease your brain with puz­zles, rid­dles, and games! 

  4. Claisson Lime on December 30, 2019 at 12:07

    Our brain is a com­pli­cat­ed puz­zle. This game shows that we still don’t know a lot about our brain activ­i­ty. Play­ing such games can devel­op our skills so that we don’t even notice it.

  5. Leo Bettster on April 6, 2020 at 7:36

    I per­son­al­ly pre­fer to improve my brain skills and these kind of games is per­fect for it. Although I believe that even pop­u­lar free to play games like Dota 2, improve your think­ing. Only games which are awful for human­i­ty are slots in online casi­nos; they don’t improve your brains at all and make poor peo­ple even poorer.

About SharpBrains

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


Subscribe to our e-newsletter

* indicates required

Got the book?