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Your Brain On Riddles

Quick: Before Mt. Everest was discovered, what was the highest mountain in the world?

Of course, the answer is just… Mt. Everest. Like our riddles, classic brain teasers like this test your ability to spot misdirection.

 As we live longer and rely on our brains for more of our work, we’ve all become more interested in keeping it in tip-top shape. As early as 20 or 30, psychologists can spot decreased perceptual speed – aka, your ability to spot and remember details in the world around you. Brain games are now a billion dollar industry, and out of the 4 in 10 people over the age of 50 who play any sort of game, a quarter of them play specifically to improve their brain.

Can playing games really help you stay sharp? It’s not quite that simple. We’re really talking about three main issues: memory loss, reasoning ability, and processing speed; and it’s difficult to isolate cause and effect. Most of the research targets memory loss, and results are very mixed.

What seems clear is that challenging your brain, both socially and intellectually, is incredibly important, especially as you get older. When the Mayo Clinic ran a long study of men and women over 70, they found that merely using a computer once a week made their participants 42% less likely to develop memory and thinking problems later on. There is also evidence that putting your brain through memory, reasoning, and problem-solving tasks can help your brain work through complex real-life problems – like driving – much more effectively. One study found that training participants’ reasoning and processing speed decreased their at-fault crashes by more than 50%.

Social interaction also helps – multiple studies have shown that using Facebook, talking on the phone to your friends, or playing games with other people is a key indicator of future brain health.

We’ve designed The RiddleVerse to be rewarding in many ways, from the pure satisfaction of solving a riddle to the promise of cold, hard cash if you’re one of the first to do it. There’s other benefits, too – you’ll scour your brain for the double meaning of “inclination” and strain your memory trying to recall which countries on the same continent might have two tall monuments to national pride. We’ve also built The RiddleVerse as a social experience. You’ll play against your fellow riddlers for badges and spots on a game-wide leaderboard, and you’ll be able to interact with your fellow riddlers on Facebook and Reddit.

Will solving riddles help your brain? Well, the only thing we can guarantee is that you’ll have fun doing it, and potentially win some cash. It can’t hurt, though – especially since solving our riddles will be a serious test of your reasoning and your memory.

Looking forward to the challenge? Subscribe to our newsletter – and make sure and join us on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Reddit.