Can working on puzzles help you ‘widen’ your mind?

Who couldn’t use a widening of their mind? This blog post about puzzles and our brain point out several recent findings.

Problems can be simplistically broken into ones that require insight – a mental leap, and ones that are solved by a more systematic analysis. Now there is debate in the field of what is most dominant in problem solving – insight or analysis. But like most of these type of arguments it appears both play an important role:

“Yet in an authoritative review of the research, the psychologists Jonathan W. Schooler and Joseph Melcher concluded that the abilities most strongly correlated with insight problem-solving “were not significantly correlated” with solving analytical problems.

Either way, creative problem-solving usually requires both analysis and sudden out-of-the-box insight.”


I would think that brain health would be improved by increasing its flexibility in switching back and forth between these two states of narrow analytical attention and those flashes of out-of-the-box insights.

The article then goes on to discuss the widening of the mind.

If we turn to the brain scan studies that examine how our brain prepares to solve problems researchers found this:

“Previous research has found that cells in this area (anterior cingulate cortex) are active when people widen or narrow their attention — say, when they filter out distractions to concentrate on a difficult task, like listening for a voice in a noisy room. In this case of insight puzzle-solving, the brain seems to widen its attention, in effect making itself more open to distraction, to weaker connections.”

Widening your brain sounds like a very interesting state. Who couldn’t use a widening of their mind and outlook on life?

Go widen your brain today – go play with some puzzles.




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