First let me give a small warning! This blog post is rather different to my previous ones. It is a book review and a gratuitous series of photos of some new acquisitions. Read on only if you are really interested and please do Contact me with your thoughts on this subject.
At work (Attending/Consultant anaesthetist in a major teaching hospital) I am well known as the complete nutter that always has some kind of toys on him, always doing or attempting to do something that looks impossible! Plus if I do an operation with a nerve block or spinal anaesthetic then my awake patient can be easily distracted with a puzzle or two. One patient even complained to a colleague when it wasn't going to be me and he wanted a new puzzle to play with during his operation!
Of course, I'm also always handing out my toys to colleagues and friends to challenge them to solve them. Now if I was seen spending my entire time doing Killer Sudoku puzzles then no-one would think anything of it but I am constantly asked why do I do it? Why torture myself so? Why do I continually attempt to do things which look completely impossible? The twisty puzzles like my 3x5x7 cuboid really seem to upset people.
|3 of these bottles remain unsolved!!!|
When questioned about this habit, I began to say to people that Alzheimers runs in my family and I was trying to stave it off! Now to some extent, that is true, it does run in my family but only in the elderly (78+ year old) females on my mother's side. So I'm probably safe for the time being! But this claim did get me thinking - will doing all these puzzles make any difference to the onset of dementia? I really did not know. About a month or so ago a PR agent from Souvenir press contacted me out of the blue via my Contact page and offered to send me a book to review which I thought might just answer this very question. So here is my review of the book - I did not promise the PR agent any particular outome, I just said I'd read it and if suitable post something. Read on if this subject might be of interest to you.
How Puzzles Improve Your Brain is a paperback book published in 2013 by Richard Restak. It's cover price is £12.99 and for that you get 294 pages. Richard Restak is a Neurologist working in the US who seems to have the gift of writing popular science books and articles as well as maintaining a reasonable research interest and a clinical practice. He appears well qualified to give an opinion on the subject and he has teamed up with one of the worlds leading game and puzzle designers (although alas not of mechanical puzzles).
|Bill Cutler's 66 Piece cube|
There is no real evidence as far as I can tell that brain training is
|Involution from Scott Peterson|
Solving twisty puzzles makes you better at twisty puzzles. The benefits outside the twisty realm are either minor or non-existent.Even some of the best articles on the matter (I can provide pdf's if people really want them) find only a link between brain activity and the development of neurological decline but cannot establish causation; in fact undertaking puzzle activity may seem to delay dementia more by masking the early symptoms than anything else! The latest decent sized study published in Nature left us with only the idea that someone needs to study it harder!
|Congestion by Maurice Vigouroux|
|419 move box by Kim Klobucher|
Don't let my criticism of the lack of real evidence detract from this book! I enjoyed it very much! It made me think and play in ways I had not done before and actually explained what my brain was doing whilst attempting these puzzles. It is well worth a look for your own entertainment. It can be bought as a paperback or in Kindle format from here.
Finally one more gratuitous picture of new puzzles - some burrs designed by Alfons Eyckmans:
|Keeper 42, Sunna & 12 Bastards - beautiful and very difficult!|