Playing brain games, such as Dingbats, helps keep the mind nimble -- no matter what your age. Logic puzzles encourage the brain to fire up its neurons and increase the number of connections (synapses) between them. In essence, your brain continues to grow and change as it practices problem solving and commits this information to short- and long-term memory [source: Hoiland].
But when you're looking to win (or beat your personal best) in addition to improving your thinking skills, it pays to have a plan of action. Sometimes the answer to the puzzle will quickly come to mind, but if it doesn't, try these strategies [source: Your Amazing Brain]:
- Look for a preposition: Does the puzzle include a visual representation of a preposition, like under, over, around or above? For example, the word "eggs" positioned above the word "easy" is "eggs over easy." The positioning of the words won't always indicate a preposition, though....
- Think literally: Sometimes, the words' positions will visually represent a verb or noun instead. For example, the word "sun" shown progressively higher on a card is "sun rise." Consider about what the words are literally doing. This strategy also works for combinations of pictures and words. For example, if the word "camp" is shown going up in flames, the answer is "campfire."
- Consider the font: Are the letters on the puzzle card puffy, upside-down or wavy? For example, the word "brain" written in a wavy font is "brainwave," and the letters c-h-a-n-c-e shown in a bold font is "fat chance."
- Deconstruction: Does your card have a single word that seems to be nonsensical? Then pull it apart; it probably contains a word inside a word. Separating the letters will reveal your answer. For example, "jobINjob" is "in between jobs."
If you really become stuck and just can't seem to come up with a correct answer, try reading the card aloud. Case in point: Although I breezed through several rounds of Dingbats, I just couldn't figure out the solution to one particular card. It included a picture of a playing card -- the King of Hearts -- followed by the word "bored."
"Royally bored" was my first guess, followed by "royal bore." I'd become fixated on the "royal" portion of the puzzle and eventually had to pass. It wasn't until later, when I tried to solve the card aloud that it hit me. Card. Bored. "Cardboard." Sometimes hearing yourself say the words can trigger a new connection.