The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind
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The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind

3.51 of 5 stars 3.51  ·  rating details  ·  59 ratings  ·  18 reviews

This is your brain on puzzles.

Everyone knows that puzzles can improve your brain function. Now a leading neurosurgeon and a noted puzzle designer team up to reveal the fascinating science behind it. Packed with illuminating insights and dozens of puzzles, this is both a lively book of popular science and an engaging set of exercises in developing a wide array of thinking

Paperback, 304 pages
Published December 6th 2011 by Riverhead Trade (first published 2010)
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This book systematically explains how puzzles test different types of mental functions; memory, verbal, spatial, logical, abstract, perception, listening, motorskill, time estimation, emotional, mathematical, and creativity. The reader is encouraged to solve a variety of puzzles that illustrate each of these mental functions. They are fun, and some are more challenging than others. Each person is different; you might find spatial puzzles more challenging than verbal, while I find just the opposi...more
You want to be healthy, right? So, just when you think you have your physical exercise and nutrition regimen worked out, along comes a neuroscientist that urges you to add in something else if you want to be healthy: special mental exercise!

Lest you despair, even a small amount of mental exercise can increase new neuronal connections (and improve heath) in the brain -- and, for the playful among us, there is good news! Doing "puzzles" (mental challenges of many sorts) can improve your brain he...more
If your family thinks you spend too much time lolly-gagging around doing puzzles, this is the book for you! Any puzzle lover will enjoy it. Read about how different types of puzzles do different things for your thinking. Especially interesting to me was Chapter 8 - Time: Clock Time vs. Brain Time - where I got some amazing insight into why I am always late!!! Challenging puzzles sprinkled throughout the book. I want to actually buy this book so that I can write in it and solve the puzzles!
John Benson
I enjoyed this book as it brings out different ways that we think and then adds puzzles with each chapter to understand how it works. It is fun trying the puzzles to discover that way of thinking. I am often working on puzzles so this one captured me.
Jamie Weiss
This wasn't as good as I was expecting, but I still enjoyed it. It was a very quick read and had some thought-provoking chapters, for example, about the location of the brain that accounts for ideological bias.
It's fun. The brain guy explains parts of how your brain works, and different strengths or weaknesses people can have in those areas, and then the puzzle guy devises puzzles that work on that area of thinking.

The whole thing is based on the new brain science that we develop new brain connections, effectively becoming smarter or at least more skilled and efficient thinkers, when we use our brain and use different parts of our brain together. We also lose connections when we don't use and stimula...more
Paula Schuck
I am reviewing this non fiction book about the neuroscience of how puzzles make us smarter. This is the first time I have seen actual science explaining how this makes us smarter and, as an amateur, very amateur neuroscience researcher, I am finding this book to be really interesting and smart. There are puzzles hidden throughout and most are quite challenging, but then the author gives the answer at the end of the chapter and explains why the puzzle makes you smarter and what kind of people the...more
night music -- bring on the clowns ♫
Mostly about the parts of the brain that solve different kinds of puzzles rather than "how puzzles improve your mind."

Tips for solving puzzles:
1. Read the instructions twice.
2. Assess the challenge (hard/easy, interesting/boring, familiar/strange, intimidating/inviting) to know how to prepare to solve the puzzle.
3. Try something.
4. Persist.
5. Be systematic.
6. Be efficient.
7. Simplify.
8. Draw a diagram.
9. Change your strategy.
10. Get help.
At first I didn't like this book very much, but once I got past the first chapter, I became intrigued with the authors points of view. Since this is a library book, but I do eventually want to purchase a copy, I will have to check it out again to finish it.
Aug 11, 2011 Bob marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Richard Restak, medical doctor and leading neuroscientist collaborated with Scott Kim, noted puzzle master explore how puzzles canchange, reshape, and strengthen brains. I was drawn to this book as a result of personal experiences.
Interesting look at how our brains work and what working puzzles, or at least attempting to work puzzles, can do to help our brain power.

At times a bit dry. Otherwise very informative.
While I love puzzles, and while this one has some good ones, I have to agree with the prominently placed blurb on the cover, which reads "Informative."
Was expecting this to be a bit better, and while it was interesting I found myself impatiently skipping over parts. Must be my brain!!
This is more a workbook than a regular book. Be prepared to take the time to work through all the puzzles. It's good for you.
Cheryl in CC NV
The library doesn't have this one, but it does have others by Restak, so someday soonish look them up.
It was an interesting subject, but kind of a boring read. He could certainly have made it more interesting.
Sep 04, 2012 Susan is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I am always interested in the human brain. The co-authors describe how solving puzzles help your brain.
Sharls marked it as to-read
Apr 10, 2014
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Apr 03, 2014
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Mar 17, 2014
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Richard Restak M.D. is an award-winning neuroscientist, neuropsychiatrist and writer. The best-selling author of nineteen acclaimed books about the brain, he has also penned dozens of articles for a variety of publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and USA Today. A fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, the American Academy of Neurology, and th...more
More about Richard Restak...
Mozart's Brain and the Fighter Pilot: Unleashing Your Brain's Potential Think Smart: A Neuroscientist's Prescription for Improving Your Brain's Performance The New Brain: How the Modern Age Is Rewiring Your Mind The Naked Brain: How the Emerging Neurosociety is Changing How We Live, Work, and Love The Brain

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