There is a fun new puzzle on the internet that has everyone scratching their heads. It seems straightforward enough: simply count the number of squares you see. But, oh man is this one hard.
The premise of this puzzle is deceptively simple. All you have to do is figure out exactly how many squares there are in the picture. We know the answer and will share it with you at the end of this story, but don’t cheat.
Games and puzzles like this are actually very good for your brain. They can help develop spatial acuity, hone your reasoning and logic skills, and even improve memory.
Visual memory is just one aspect to how we experience and respond to our world. There are a number of other types of memory that combine to give the human brain more firepower than any other animal. Here are some other ways we retain and retrieve information.
Procedural memory is a long term type of memory that is developed by the practicing of a certain activity, like riding a bike or playing a drum solo. It becomes something you don’t even have to think about consciously. Also referred to as motor skills, or “muscular” memory, Athletes and musicians are really good at this, but we all use it, like when we swim, or walk.
Episodic memory is based on personal experiences. Although scientists don’t yet fully understand how it works, it is wrapped up with emotions. This is the kind of memory that helps you recall how you felt, who you were with, and where you were, when you found out there is no such thing as Santa Claus… Oops. Too late for a spoiler alert?
Semantic memory, or “common knowledge”, is almost the exact opposite of episodic memory. You don’t have to ever experience something in order to know it happened. This is how we know letters, the colors of things, and historical events we weren’t a part of.
Another form of memory is explicit memory, also known as declarative memory. It involves semantic and episodic memory, and unlike procedural memory, requires a lot of effort. Like, remembering your brother-in-law’s favorite color is cerulean blue, kind of effort.
If you want to improve your memory, here are some quick tips.
Use rosemary plants to stimulate your senses. There is something about the scent of rosemary that researchers found increased long term memory and mental acuity.
Exercise regularly. It turns out that physical activity is as good, if not better, for your brain as it is for your waistline. It may have something to do with activity related stress triggering growth hormones, or in increased blood flow to your melon. Either way, it’s a good argument for being a musclehead.
All that working out can make you tired. Regular, uninterrupted sleep gives your brain a chance to process and collate all the data it has taken in over the day. Think of it as defragging your hard drive. The longer you go without sleep, the more difficult it is for your brain to keep track of everything that has happened and it may create faulty memory.
Play mind games… Oops, we meant brain games. Its another level of exercise. Crossword puzzles, sudoku, chess, and other challenging games are like bench presses and sit-ups for your brain. A regularly challenged brain develops more resilient, and a higher number of neural pathways.
Okay, so are you done counting all the squares? What answer did you come up with? The answer is there were exactly forty squares in the picture. Here’s a diagram showing them all: