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Illusion of same size cylinders appearing to be different sizes.

Are these cans the same size? For the answer, see the College of Education and Human Development's Link magazine. (Puzzle submitted by Jeff Abuzzahab, CEHD interactive media designer.)

Oh, you tease! Strength-train your brain with games

Brainteasers from the College of Education and Human Development

Published on February 7, 2005

At the College of Education and Human Development's (CEHD) Alumni College this fall, Carla Tabourne conducted a session she named, "Strength-train your brain with games." Tabourne, an associate professor of recreation and sport studies, expected four or five people to attend. The session drew more than 25 people and spilled over into the next session as alumni stayed to talk about it and get some games from Tabourne to try at home.

The games that Tabourne provided--riddles, visual puzzles, reading and math problem solving, mysteries, memory games--are the type that students and professionals in recreation therapy might use with people who've had strokes, or people with Alzheimer's disease or other conditions.

"Crossword puzzles are a fabulous activity for young people who have attention deficit disorder or other types of impairment where paying attention is a struggle," Tabourne says. "The games might also be used to prevent cognitive decline through constantly challenging various behaviors of the brain."

"Given that the population of America is getting older and living longer, there's a terrible fear of losing mental capacity," says Tabourne. "The idea behind my session [at Alumni College] was that you can build cognitive skills, maintain and strengthen your cognitive abilities on your own, and stave off decline by constantly challenging your brain."

In that spirit, members of the college's faculty and staff have provided the following brainteasers you can use to enhance your cognitive power.

1a. I do not hold the desert, only a sample. My innards descend ever so slowly... but in time I am turned over to begin again. What am I?

1b. Many different types of my last seven letters can be found in newspapers, magazines, and journals. Physicists have built devices to get me moving very fast. What am I?

1c. I am a path situated between high natural masses. Remove my first letter and you have a path situated between man-made masses. What am I?

1d. Though my last four letters indicate a smile, I am a distress caused by disappointment or embarrassment. What am I?

Submitted by Carla Tabourne, associate professor in the School of Kinesiology, who specializes in recreation therapy.

2. A ship's anchor has been set. A rope ladder with rungs running a half-meter apart hangs over the side. The tide rises half of a meter per hour. After five hours, how much of the ladder will be visible above the water if nine rungs were visible as the tide began to rise?

Submitted by David Rapp, assistant professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, whose research includes comprehension and cognitive processes.

3. Inspired by the internationally popular Global Positioning System (GPS), the Person Positioning System (PPS) is a device that tells a person his or her orientation. The PPS is powered by a 120v / 220V AC source for easy plug-in. The unit is strapped onto the person's torso. With the CRT screen set on an angle against the chest, the person needs only to look down to see the information output by the PPS, i.e., the person's position. A "slightly modified" version of the PPS has an altimeter and a speedometer to tell the person's altitude and speed. The problem with this unit was not so obvious to the inventor and hundreds of people who bought the unit.

Question: What was the problem with the unit?

Submitted by Pam Stenhjem, associate director of the Youth and Family Participation Network in the Institute on Community Integration's National Center on Secondary Education and Transition.

For answers, see the College of Education and Human Development's Link magazine.

--From the original story in Link, winter 2005, a publication of the College of Education and Human Development.

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