Mathematical Brain Teaser
What number when multiplied against itself will result in a
number which includes the numbers (1 - 9) in forward order,
and then descending in order from the 9? (i.e., to get the
Logic Brain Teaser
A man is asked what his daughters look like. He answers, "They
are all blondes, but two, all brunettes, but two, and all
redheads, but two." How many daughters did he have?
Lateral Brain Teaser
Three switches outside a windowless room are connected to
three light bulbs inside the room. How can you determine which
switch is connected to which bulb if you are only allowed to
enter the room once?
Word Play Puzzles
The letters represent words that are somehow connected in a
You must identify the next letter in the sequence.
Clue: M T W T ?
Explanation: ..... Wednesday (W), Thursday (T),
Question: Z X C V B N ?
Different words are used to describe well known proverbs
Puzzle: "Rap upon timber"
Solution: "Knock on wood."
Question: Scintillate, scintillate, asteroid minific.
Each equation contains the initials of words that will make
the statement true. The statements are well-known facts from
the everyday world.
Identify the missing words that will make each statement true.
Equation: 1001 = A. N.
Solution: 1001 Arabian Nights
Question: 26 = L. of the A.
The following words are used in different orientations to
represent common phrases.
FLIGHTFLIGHT can be interpreted as 'Connecting Flights'
What occurs once in June, once in July and twice in August?
What is it that goes with an automobile and
comes with it; is of no use to it, and yet the automobile
cannot move without it?
Tests and games (Links to other sites)
A spelling test - A test of 50 commonly misspelled words.
The Key To Healthy Brain Aging
Regular mental exercise helps to preserve memory and mental
sharpness in older age.
In homer’s Odyssey, the heroic traveler
Odysseus survived a series of challenges through either mental or
physical prowess. Acrobatic strength vanquished the Cyclops, but the
key to breaching the walls of Troy was a clever gambit—the Trojan
horse—rather than direct military assault. And of course, like any
hero, Odysseus met every obstacle that Homer threw at him with
determination and confidence rather than fear or despair.
Decades of research in gerontology, the study
of aging, has found that the qualities that allowed Odysseus to
triumph also promote general health and longevity. This counts not
just for living longer, but living better: avoiding chronic
depression, preserving your memory and other mental skills, and
functioning independently in your daily life.
Healthy brain aging
In recent decades, scientists have radically redefined the
concept of “healthy brain aging.” The ruling paradigm was once that
living to a ripe old age was simply a matter of avoiding chronic
disease. As for the brain, it was assumed that it would simply go
along with the body for the ride—until gradual, inevitable decay
transformed us all into the stereotype of the doddering, forgetful,
There was just one problem with this: Many
people make it to 100 with their mental powers virtually intact, and
lead physically active, interesting, satisfying lives. How did they
manage to escape the “inevitable decline” that defined old age in
the popular imagination?
The Three Keys
Aging researchers found a way to ask the question. The tool is
called a longitudinal aging study. Healthy people would be recruited
in youth and then tested periodically throughout life to measure any
changes in their physical and mental function as well as their
lifestyles: what they ate, how much they exercised, and their
leisure and social activities.
One of the most well known longitudinal
studies, though not the first, was the MacArthur Study. It tracked
healthy people from middle age into their 80s. As part of the
project, MacArthur researchers identified 1,200 healthy people
between the ages of 70 and 80 whose mental abilities ranked in the
top third compared to the general population in this age group. The
researchers tracked these high performers for a decade and
determined who among them tended to remain high-functioning. They
identified three factors that distinguished these people from the
1. They were more consistently physically
active than the others. They took daily walks and other forms of
exercise, for example.
2. They remained mentally active. These are
the people who, rather than parking in front of the TV, did the
crossword puzzle every morning, browsed the library shelves
regularly for new and interesting books, dabbled in hobbies and
crafts, or played bridge three times per week.
3. They had a personality quality some have
termed “self-efficacy.” They met challenges with the confidence and
desire to solve them, rather than being ground under the wheels of
In short, they were like Odysseus. To their
brains, they were heroes.
Bulking Up Your Brain
From the MacArthur and other longitudinal studies has come a
guiding principle known as “use it or lose it.” A recent
brain-scanning study appeared to show this principle in action. As
reported in the January 22, 2004 Nature, 23 healthy people, average
age 22, learned how to juggle. After three months, MRI scans showed
enlargement of the gray matter in their brains—the part responsible
for higher mental functions. Either existing cells had grown denser,
more numerous connections, or the sheer number of brain cells had
increased. When the study participants stopped juggling, their
brains shrunk again. This doesn’t mean we should all juggle our way
to cognitive vitality. But it does strongly suggest that mental
exercise has real and positive effects on brain function.
Dancing Away Dementia?
Some researchers have wondered whether mental activity might
reduce the risk of Alzheimer's disease. In a study in the June 19,
2003, New England Journal of Medicine, researchers tracked 469
people aged 75 to 85 for up to 21 years. None had dementia at the
start. People who participated the most in leisure
activities—including reading, playing board games, playing musical
instruments, and dancing—were at 63 percent lower risk of being
diagnosed with dementia.
It may be that the active people built up a
mental bank account that helped delay the onset of dementia
symptoms. “It might provide some reserve,” explains Robert N.
Butler, M.D., president and CEO of the International Longevity
Center in New York City. “They’ve got enough there that even though
there is decay underneath, they are still able to function pretty
However, Dr. Butler, who in the 1950s led the
first longitudinal studies of healthy older people, is reluctant to
promise that a healthy-aging lifestyle can actually prevent
Alzheimer’s. “What I am reasonably sure of is that the various sorts
of apparent cognitive impairment in the later years, as well as
depression, are influenced by the level of mental activity.”
Fortunately, there are no known health risks
to doing crossword puzzles or reading novels. Even if lifelong
mental “neurobics” doesn’t prevent dementia, it may support general
brain function and enhance your overall quality of life.
Social And Physical Fitness
It should be emphasized that physical fitness is also associated
with lower risk of cognitive decline. Longitudinal studies also
suggest that remaining socially engaged aids healthy aging. “Those
individuals who had goals in life, something to get up for, actually
did better and lived longer,” says Butler.
Butler, now in his 70s, ought to know. He has
hardly slowed the pace of his career since 1982, when he left his
position as the founding director of the National Institute on Aging
to found the first department of geriatric medicine in the United
States, at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. Perhaps,
like Odysseus, we all need a quest in order to maintain our physical
and mental zest.
Copyright (c) 2000 Daniel Pendick/Memory Loss and
Memory Loss & the
100: Lessons In Living To Your Maximum Potential At Any Age,”
by Thomas T. Perls, Margery Hutter Silver, and John F.
Lauerman. (Basic Books: 1999. 282 pages, paperback.)
“Keep Your Brain Young,” by Guy McKhann and Marilyn
Albert. (John Wiley & Sons, Inc: 2002. 296 pages, paperback.)
“Successful Aging,” John W. Rowe and Robert L. Kahn.
(Dell Publishing: 1998. 265 pages, paperback.)
“Achieving And Maintaining Cognitive Vitality With Aging,”
by the International Longevity center—USA, Canyon Ranch Health
Resort, and the National Institute On Aging.
|The Name Game
Imagine attending a cocktail
party, where your elegant hostess introduces you to a new person.
You hit it off, chat happily for fifteen minutes, and as you walk
away you realize you cannot remember your new friend's name. Just
one more sign that your memory isn't what it used to be, right?
Actually, no. Lapses like this probably have very little to do
with memory and a great deal to do with attention. Much of the
time, when we "forget" something, it isn't so much that we fail to
recall the information; it's that we never stored it properly in
the first place. When the cocktail party hostess mentioned the
name, odds are that you weren't paying full attention. You were
also evaluating whether the newcomer looked like an interesting
person, whether he might be interested in hearing about your pet
cat, whether the tray of hors d'oeuvres was passing within reach,
everything except that new name. The name never got the attention
it deserved, and so memory for it will be shaky at best.
Next time you need to remember someone's name, or any other bit
of random information, make the effort to store it properly.
Repetition is a good start: use the name a few times. "Nice to
meet you, Nelson. Do you have any kids, Nelson?" Every time you
hear yourself speak the name, it will become a little more firmly
embedded in your memory. After the conversation, as you walk away,
practice a few more times: "That guy's name was Nelson. Nelson
works in the banking industry." These repetitions create a
A week later, when you bump into Nelson on the street, you'll
have a fighting chance of recalling his name because it was firmly
stored in your memory in the first place.
Copyright (c) 2000 Catherine E. Myers
Loss and the Brain