23 January 2012

Mind Games 3

More brain teasers and the "memory palace".


Last week on Mind Games we asked you to send in any good brainteasers you might know, and we had a great response, thank you! Keep those puzzles, riddles and brainteasers coming – we’ll be featuring the best ones here.

This week, we have a couple more twisty lateral-thinking puzzles for you, and a technique for improving memory.

Brain teasers

11. Fatal error:

A man lives all alone. One night he unwisely gets very drunk, but manages to go upstairs, switch off the light, get into bed and fall asleep. The next morning, he wakes up, turns on the radio and is horrified to learn that he’s caused the tragic deaths of hundreds of people. What could be the explanation? See answer


12. Going dotty:

Connect these 9 dots with 4 straight lines, without lifting your pen.

Thanks to reader Cobus Smit for this visual workout! See answer


Improve your memory

13. The memory palace:

Competitive mnemonists can recite thousands of names and numbers, or remember the position of each card in a shuffled deck. These skills seem way beyond a regular person – but are they?

Joshua Foer, a journalist who started out with an average memory, won the U.S. Memory Championship after only a year’s training. One of the main techniques he used was the “memory palace”, which is also useful in real life for recalling shopping and to-do lists –and anyone can learn it.

First, imagine your “palace”: a place you know well, such as your own home. In your mind, walk a familiar route, for example from the front door to the bathroom. As you go, picture each item on your shopping list – eg. clingwrap, four bottles of milk, a lightbulb – in a specific place.

The more startling, dramatic or even disturbing the images are, the better: try a film star opening the door in nothing but clingwrap, quadruplets spilling milk on the bed, a cartoon lightbulb clicking on over your head as you step into the dark bathroom!

Later, when you’re doing your shopping, replay your mental walk. You should be able to “see” what you placed at each location. The more you practise, the better you’ll get. See explanation

Joshua Foer, Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything, Penguin, 2011

- Compiled by Olivia Rose-Innes and Senora Sine Thirteen, Health24, July 2011

Do you have a great brain teaser? Please send it in; we'll choose the best for inclusion in future Mind Games.

More Mind Games


Read Health24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Live healthier

Exercise benefits for seniors »

Working out in the concrete jungle Even a little exercise may help prevent dementia Here’s an unexpected way to boost your memory: running

Seniors who exercise recover more quickly from injury or illness

When sedentary older adults got into an exercise routine, it curbed their risk of suffering a disabling injury or illness and helped them recover if anything did happen to them.