The case for the Sunday crossword
Plus, how does color influence the price of art?
“Too often we walk through the world with our heads down. We’re surrounded by people, yet we feel alone and disconnected.” – psychologist Gillian Sandstrom
My word! Crossword puzzles are fun – and they’re also good for the brain. A new study suggests they could even help alleviate some of the cognitive impairment associated with dementia. To test this, researchers randomly assigned 107 people with mild cognitive impairment to either do crossword puzzle training or cognitive games training for 12 weeks on the computer at home. At 78 weeks, the researchers assigned them booster sessions, then measured their brain shrinkage via MRI. They also asked the volunteers to report how much trouble they had with tasks like paying bills, shopping, remembering appointments, and taking medications. While both activities – computer games and crossword puzzles – seemed to improve brain functioning to some degree, crossword puzzles were especially useful. “The benefits were seen not only in cognition but also in daily activities with indications of brain shrinkage on MRI,” said D.P. Devanand, MD, a professor of psychiatry and neurology at Columbia. Just another reason to tackle the Sunday puzzle.
Fine art. We know color has a psychological effect on things like mood. That effect might also influence our spending habits. In a recent study, researchers found that people were willing to spend more on paintings that had a certain hue. “We conducted laboratory experiments in the US, China, and Europe, and elicited participants’ willingness-to-pay and measured emotions,” the researchers write in their abstract. “We find that blue and red paintings command a premium.” Specifically, those paintings generated bids that were 17-18 percent higher than other paintings. “Color influences prices through the channel of emotional pleasure,” the study concludes.
Both things can be true. We all face tough decisions in life, whether we’re juggling the demands of work and family or deciding whether to take a new job. These situations often feel like either/or choices. But there’s a different way to think about difficult choices, one that opens up unexpected possibilities. Listen to learn more.
ON THE HIDDEN BRAIN PODCAST: RELATIONSHIPS 2.0
Nov 7: As you’re going about your day, you likely interact with family, friends and coworkers. These relationships can help you feel cared for and connected. But what if there’s a whole category of people in your life whose impact is overlooked? In the second episode of our “Relationships 2.0” series, psychologist Gillian Sandstrom reveals some simple ways to make your life a little more joyful and maybe even a little less lonely.
ON THE MY UNSUNG HERO PODCAST
Nov 8: "It has reminded me of the core value of the Air Force, which is service before self." Veteran Jessica Israelsen remembers a generous gift from the other members of her unit, in 2008.
Don’t forget to send us the story of your unsung hero! Record a voice memo on your phone and email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
LAST WEEK’S PUZZLE
You have three bags, each containing two marbles. Bag A contains two white marbles, Bag B contains two black marbles, and Bag C contains one white marble and one black marble.
You pick a random bag and take out one marble.
It is a white marble.
What is the probability that the remaining marble from the same bag is also white?
The answer: 2/3. Remember: you’re selecting marbles, not bags. You know that you don’t have Bag B, so there are three possibilities:
You chose Bag A, first white marble. The other marble will be white.
You chose Bag A, second white marble. The other marble will be white.
You chose Bag C, the white marble. The other marble will be black.
FROM THE TWITTERATI…
A MOMENT OF JOY
This video of a seriously talented “security guard” and the story behind it.
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