Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Quick brain teaser to workout your frontal lobes: Can you read this face?


Dr. Elkhonon Gold­berg, in dis­cussing the human brain’s frontal lobes in his excel­lent book The Wis­dom Para­dox, high­lights that “exec­u­tive intel­li­gence” includes the abil­i­ty to “pen­e­trate oth­er people’s minds, and that starts with an inter­est in oth­er people’s minds.”

And, what is a good win­dow to “pen­e­trate oth­er people’s minds” and iden­ti­fy oth­er peo­ple’s emo­tions?

A face.

Psy­chol­o­gist Paul Ekman is well-known for his decades-long research on how to iden­ti­fy emo­tions through facial expres­sions which, some­times con­tro­ver­sial­ly, is being used in affec­tive com­put­ing and oth­er nascent fields.

In sum­ma­ry, he found sev­en emo­tions that are expressed in our faces in fair­ly uni­ver­sal­ly con­sis­tent ways:

  • Sur­prise
  • Enjoy­ment
  • Sad­ness
  • Anger
  • Fear
  • Dis­gust
  • Con­tempt


Here’s a quick brain teas­er to work­out your frontal lobes: From left to right, top then down, what emo­tion does each facial expres­sion sug­gest to you?

Feel free to share your answers below, and to try this out with a friend or col­league 🙂


Fun fact: As part of his research, Dr. Ekman learned how to con­scious­ly manip­u­late 43 facial mus­cles, includ­ing many that in most of us are beyond our con­trol and even aware­ness.


To explore more fun brain teasers, puzzles and games and challenge your cognitive ability:

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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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