Archive for Brain teasers

Debate: Should candidates to high office should pass a cognitive/ mental fitness test?

Wow, that was a couple of very insightful discussions, via social media no less.

#1. The first one was about whether heads of state and candidates to high office should pass a cognitive/ mental fitness test. Click HERE to read and discuss some of the sharpest comments, such as…

  • I wonder what brought this up.”
  • Definitely. We routinely screen applicants for a wide range of jobs.”
  • Then the balance of political power would shift towards the designers of those tests.”
  • That’s what debates are for.”
  • Yes, but probably nobody would pass it.”
  • No, because if we can’t judge that for ourselves, then what business do we have voting at all?”

#2. The second debate centered on the future of mental health: In ten years, will we see DSM‑6 or Something Much Better (SMB‑1)? Would you say “Something better hopefully” or “Well considering we approach mental health from a disease model.…that’s the first problem” or “DSM is a tool, and a very useful one. As any other tool it depends on the use you make of it,” or something else.

Welcome to a new edition of SharpBrains’ e‑newsletter, featuring as always new thinking, research and tools for lifelong brain health and mental fitness.

#3. Study: Across all ideological groups, higher cognitive ability and intellectual humility predicts support for free speech

#4. Let’s understand how to increase resistance to tau and amyloid proteins so we can all become “super-agers.”  Brain scans show lower accumulation of tau and amyloid pathology among cognitive “super-agers”

#5. For example: Jobs with low physical stress and good working conditions linked to larger hippocampus and better memory

#6. Wanted: 30,000 volunteers! Large UC study to investigate when and how brain training transfers (or does not) to broader cognitive and health benefits

#7. Timely questions: “How common are neurological and psychiatric complications in patients with COVID-19? What proportion of neurological and psychiatric complications affect the (central nervous system) versus the peripheral nervous system, and are novel syndromes emerging? And who is most at risk?” Survey finds ischaemic stroke and altered mental status as most common neurological complications in severe COVID-19 cases

#8. “Our mind is one of the only things that we cannot consistently measure and quantify. And humans do remarkable things when we can measure something.”  Kernel raises $53 million to ease access to rich neural data and market Neuroscience as a Service (NaaS)

#9. “We are taking proven cognitive behavioral therapies and fully automating them to deliver the care scalably and consistently as drugs.” Startup Big Health raises $39M to universalize access to cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for anxiety and poor sleep

#10. Building on Bill Gates’ original goal of ‘a computer on every desk,’ perhaps it’s time for ‘real-time mental health support on every phone.’ Microsoft announces support for three innovative mental health services harnessing artificial intelligence (AI)

#11. Resonance. Empathy. Awareness. Compassion. Hope. And our favorite… Humor. Six tips to help regulate stress levels in our organizations

#12. Finally, a fun brain teaser. What do you see, rectangles or circles?


Wishing you a good and safe August,

The SharpBrains Team

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eNews: Repetitive negative thinking seen to increase (or perhaps be caused by) Alzheimer’s pathology


Time for a new edition of SharpBrains’ e-newsletter, featuring this month 13 research findings, resources and brain teasers for lifelong brain and mental health.

#1. “We found that people who exhibited higher repetitive negative thinking patterns experienced more cognitive decline over a four-year period. They also had specific declines in memory (which is an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease), and had more amyloid and tau deposits in their brain … There’s increasing evidence that chronic stress is both harmful to your body – and your brain. But more research is needed to understand this link.” Repetitive negative thinking may increase (or perhaps be caused by) cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s pathology

#2. “…even simple cognitive processes like making a shopping list now require more brainpower. “Now, rather than thinking, ‘I’ll just run to the store’, you’re thinking about what you need, what stores are open and whether it’ll be safe to go there. Let’s say your brain can do four tasks at once. Now all of a sudden there are 10, and you can’t do any of them” … rebooting your working memory may also mean cutting down on your news consumption and considering a break from social media. But the most effective thing to do might simply be to convince yourself it’s OK to be struggling.” Why stress regulation and working memory are core building blocks of lifelong resilience

#3. Ten years from now, will we see DSM-6 or Something Much Better (SMB)-1? The way we approach Mental Health today is broken beyond repair. The question is, what comes next, and how fast can we get there?

#4. Now, please draw the letter J in your mind. Then, draw the letter D. Turn it 90 degrees to the left and put it in top of the J. What does this shape resemble? Enjoy these three quick brain teasers to exercise your working memory

#5. “Reading science fiction and fantasy can help readers make sense of the world. Rather than limiting readers’ capacity to deal with reality, exposure to outside-the-box creative stories may expand their ability to engage reality based on science … With increasing rates of anxiety, depression, and mental health issues for youth in the past two decades, it may be the case that young people, no different from American society generally, are suffering from reality overload.” — Esther L. Jones, Ph.D Reading science fiction can help children build critical thinking and resilience

#6. “For decades, use of biofeedback to help sufferers of anxiety, among other psychological conditions, has largely been limited to clinical settings with expensive—and somewhat tedious—medical equipment. Now, with an assist from developers of virtual-reality games, effective therapeutic biofeedback is becoming more affordable, accessible and engaging.” Virtual-reality gaming + affordable biofeedback = Anxiety therapy for all?

#7. Now comes the real challenge: getting doctors to prescribe it, insurers to pay for it, kids to use it and hopefully see significant improvements in daily life. FDA clears first videogame to be prescribed to kids with ADHD: EndeavorRx by Akili Interactive Labs

#8. Hope you enjoy this overview by Dr. Ricardo Gil-da-Costa at Neuroverse and our very own Alvaro Fernandez: Explore The State of Noninvasive Neurotechnology in 37 minutes and 1 image

#9. Here with neuroscientist Mara Dierssen, in Spanish: Cómo minimizar el impacto del Covid-19 en nuestro cerebro

#10. Ignoring problems doesn’t typically solve them — good to see serious attempts to understand, detect and address chemo brain. Growing research shows how two of the major cancer treatments, radiation and chemotherapy, can lead to long-term cognitive impairment

#11. “… COVID-19 may lead to anywhere from 27,644 to 154,037 additional U.S. deaths of despair, as mass unemployment, social isolation, depression and anxiety drive increases in suicides and drug overdoses.” Time to reimagine brain & mind care: Four immediate priorities to flatten the mental distress curve

#12. Moving beyond Either/ Or Thinking: Antidepressant vortioxetine combined with cognitive training may help delay cognitive decline

#13. Not the worst week to leave Earth, but still plenty of mental health challenges in space. Request for proposals to help astronauts combat behavioral health challenges such as stress and isolation


Have a good and safe summer,

The SharpBrains Team

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Seven fun brain teasers and puzzle games to honor Brain Awareness Week 2020

Let’s celebrate Brain Awareness Week next week, March 16–22nd, by challenging our minds with one brain teaser per day … or, why not, trying them all at once 🙂

Here’s a selection of seven fun brain teasers, puzzles & games that SharpBrains readers (primarily adults, but younger minds too) have enjoyed the most since 2010.

Ready. Set. Go!

On Monday:

Test your stress level and see if you’re in the right mental state for the busy week. And here are some tips to handle stress better if you need to after taking the test …

On Tuesday:

Tell us, which way is the bus heading?

On Wednesday:

Explore your perceptual biases

On Thursday:

Think outside the box with a few fun riddles

On Friday:

Please consider Linda’s job prospects

On Saturday:

Complete these proverbs and exercise your memory and reasoning

On Sunday:

Hmm. Where do words go?

About Brain Awareness Week:

Every March, Brain Awareness Week (BAW) unites the efforts of partner organizations worldwide in a celebration of the brain for people of all ages. Activities are limited only by the organizers’ imaginations and include open days at neuroscience labs; exhibitions about the brain; lectures on brain-related topics; social media campaigns; displays at libraries and community centers; classroom workshops; and more.

This year BAW will take place March 16–22th, 2020.

To explore more fun brain teasers and puzzle games:

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Brain teaser: How could this happen?

Imagine spending the summer polishing your PhD thesis in the library. Every day you take the subway, a train going up North to the university.

One day you realize that the trains going South can bring you to the beach. Nothing is wrong with some leisure. You calculate that if you spend half of the remaining summer vacation in the library that should be enough to finish the thesis. To spice up the summer,every day you catch the first train that comes to the platform. It may be South train going to the beach or the North one heading to the university. Read the rest of this entry »

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Update: Humankind’s evolving quest to enhance the brain and the mind

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Seven riddles to celebrate Halloween


Q: Who created the universe?
A:  Mama!

Q: What is full of hope, often thought of, but doesn’t exist?
A: Tomorrow.

Q: What is it that you can fear, anticipate, even cause, but will never be able to experience?
A: Death.

Q: What is another name for Life?
A: Death’s exquisitely furnished waiting-room.

Q: Do you desire to live forever?
A:  You do already. (Prove that you don’t!)

Q: If life’s a scream, what’s death?
A: A shrug!

Q: What is by far the most outstanding and surprising of all humankind’s successes?
A:  Waking up in the morning.


– Keith Perreur-Lloyd is an Anglo-French composer and musician currently living in Spain. You can learn more about his classical compositions here.

More fun ways to challenge your brain and mind:

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Quick brain teaser to stretch your mind and understand your cognitive biases


This is Ellen, a single and bright woman. When she was a student —in high school and in college too— Ellen was deeply involved in environmental issues, and also participated in social justice protests.

Now it’s 2019, and Ellen is 31-year-old.

Question: Which of the following statements are more probable regarding Ellen’s occupation today, and in what order?

A) Ellen is a bank teller;

B) Ellen works as a TV reporter;

C) Ellen is a bank teller at a small community bank; she remains active fighting climate change.


Quick, what’s your answer? In what order would you rank those 3 options? Read the rest of this entry »

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5 quick brain teasers to sharpen two key cognitive skills: attention and working memory

Looking for some fun–and free–cognitive stimulation over the weekend? Here you have a few quick brain teasers to challenge your atten­tion and your work­ing mem­ory (work­ing mem­ory is the capacity to keep infor­ma­tion in your mind while working on processing and integrating it)

Please give them a try…they are not as easy as they may seem 🙂 Read the rest of this entry »

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3 fun brain teasers for adults to challenge your cognitive skills

Brain_cognitiveskillsFirst of all, what is cognition? Cognition has to do with how we understand the world and act in it. Cognitive skills are the brain-based functions that we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. For example, answering the telephone involves perception (hearing the ring tone), decision taking (answering or not), motor skill (lifting the receiver), language skills (talking and understanding language), social skills (interpreting tone of voice and interacting properly with another human being).

Here are three fun brain teasers to help you challenge your cognitive skills over the weekend, coming from our collection of brain teasers & games for adults of all ages. Enjoy!

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Top 10 Brain Teaser Games of 2015 For Teens and Adults

innovationThese are the 10 brain teasers, games & illusions that SharpBrains readers (primarily adults, but some younger minds too) enjoyed the most in 2015. It is always good to learn more about our brains and to challenge them!

#1. You think you know the colors? Try the Stroop Test

#2. Check out this brief attention experiment

#3. Test your stress level

#4. Guess: Are there more connections in one human brain or leaves in the whole Amazon?

#5. Quick brain teasers to flex two key men­tal mus­cles

#6. Count the Fs in this sentence

#7. Can you iden­tify Apple’s logo?

#8. Ten classic optical illu­sions to trick your mind

#9. What do you see?

#10. Fun Mental Rotation challenge

If you have time for more, check out these Top 25 Brain Teasers, Games and Illusions.

We hope you try them, enjoy them, and share them 🙂

Alvaro Fernandez & the SharpBrains Team

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