Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News


Brain teaser to challenge your frontal lobes

Here is a fun brain teaser from puzzle master Wes Carroll.

Tipping the Scales

free brain teasers for frontal lobes

The top two scales in the image at the right are in perfect balance. How many diamonds will be needed to balance the bottom set?

This puzzle helps you work out your executive functions –supported in the frontal lobes— by using your pattern recognition, hypothesis testing, and logic.


Four diamonds


First add up the number of clubs in the first two scales (5). Then count how many clubs are in the bottom scale (5). The do the same with the spades, which gets you 5 and 5. There are 4 diamonds in the top two balanced scales. Therefore, it must take 4 diamonds to balance the third scale since all the other measurements are the same.

More brain teasers and games for adults of any age:

Hard brain teaser to challenge your pattern recognition

Here’s a quick but hard brain teaser to challenge your ability to find a pattern. In the table below, each row across follows the same pattern. See if you can discern the pattern and fill in the missing number in the bottom row.

For added challenge, time how long it takes you to complete the puzzle. Then, pass it along to someone else and see who can solve it faster…

7 4 8
3 9 7
6 5 10
? 8 4

Have you solved it yet? If not, here’s a hint:

If you read your figures like words in the West,
then multiply your efforts and subtract the rest.

WARNING:  Answer and solution follows. Try to solve the puzzle before you read further. Read the rest of this entry »

In the News: Brain Calisthenics, Bilingual Brains, Debunking Myths on Mental Illness

Let us highlight a couple of insightful and brief articles in the New York Times and a very powerful analysis in The New York Review of Books; they provide useful clues about Brain Calisthenics, Bilingual Brains, and Debunking Myths on Mental Illness. Read the rest of this entry »

Maximize the Cognitive Value of Your Mental Workout

Physical fitness. Cognitive/ brain fitness. Both require novelty, variety and challenge. Professor Schlomo Breznitz, a scientific and business leader in the cognitive fitness field, explains why, eloquently, below. Perhaps “we want change” really means “we need change”. Enjoy!


Why are everyday life challenges not sufficient to keep our brains fit?

— By Prof. Shlomo Breznitz

Often, when describing the benefits of MindFit to brain health, I am asked by people in the audience whether this software is really needed. After all, so they argue, life provides continues cognitive challenges, which should suffice for ensuring brain fitness. From the moment we wake up until we go to sleep our brains have to attend to complex stimuli, plan many activities, some of them quite complex, and carry us through whatever the day offers. These tasks should provide sufficient “brain exercise” without the need to engage in specific mental workout.

This line of argument sounds oddly familiar, since it is an exact duplication of claims made in the recent past against the need for physical exercise. One jumps into the car and from the car and perhaps even climbs a few stairs before sitting in the chair, which should be enough to burn the calories and keep fit.

Read the rest of this entry »

Travel and Engagement as Good Brain Exercise

University of Namibia

Neuroplasticity is defined as “the ability of the brain to rewire itself through experience”.

We typically summarize a lot of brain research by encouraging SharpBrains readers is to seek for novelty, variety and challenge, as guidelines for “brain exercise” that will help build new connections in the brain, force one to be mindful and pay attention, improve abilities such as pattern-recognition, and in general contribute to lifelong brain health.

A friend just sent an update on her amazing experience in Namibia (the pic on the right shows the entrance to the University of Namibia) that shows how Travel and Engagement with meaningful projects can provide superb mental stimulation, or “brain exercise”. This is relevant at all ages, and we are encouraged to see organizations such as Civic Ventures and Elderhostel that offer opportunities for baby boomers and older adults who want to maintain active minds.

Try picturing in your mind, as you read this, all her different brain areas that are getting needed stimulation through her Namibia experience.

UPDATE: my friend just wrote to expand on the “be mindful” angle by saying that “it definitely requires purposeful processing of the information that you are consuming in order to make it a useful brain exercise. For example, I always try to journal or write thoughtful emails about my experience in order to try to best understand it.” Great point.

With her permission, here you have:


Dear Friends,

I am just returning from Namibia and am buzzing with excitement about all of the opportunities for us to make an impact there when we return with our students next Spring.

Namibia is very different than I expected. It was the last country in Africa to gain independence from colonialism, gaining independence just 20 years ago. Thus, it is much more developed than any African country that I have visited, with relatively good infrastructure and no existing debt. That said, the legacies of apartheid can still be felt in today’s society, and the people are very clearly dealing constantly with issues of race and identity. One of the most interesting experiences that I had was attending a “braai” (the Namibian version of a barbecue which basically consists of Read the rest of this entry »

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