• Time when you have to play with the kids.

London City Big Puzzles

London City Big Puzzles, Floral garden, MIT Mystery Hunt Ravensburger

500 pieces by Gibsons

London city puzzles and mysteries are intrinsically intertwined, generating the same kind of feeling of suspense that calls out for relief through some resolution. Th e word catharsis was used by Aristotle to describe the emotional relief that results from watching a tragic drama on stage. Unraveling the solution to a mystery story or to a puzzle seems to produce a similar kind of mental catharsis, since we typically feel a sense of relief from suspense when we fi nd the answer.

This is London

This is London, Gibsons

Puzzles thus lend themselves as ideal research materials for investigating the mind. Strangely, there are few studies in psychology or neuroscience that aim to study the relation of puzzles to various aspects of cognition.

As far as can be told, the fi rst ever investigation of puzzle- solving from a psychological perspective dates back to an 1897 article by Ernest H. Lindley, titled A Study of Puzzles with Special Reference to the Psychology of Mental Adaptation. Essentially, Lindley provides an overview of the importance of play in childhood as a stimulant of mental development, prefi guring a whole series of studies on play and games in childhood, of which the ones by Piaget ( 1969 ) and Vygotsky ( 1961 ) are the best known. Vygotsky proposed developmental stages that go from external (physical and social) actions to internal cognitive constructions and interior speech via the mind's ability to construct images of external reality.

Maria Rabinky: London Landmarks

Maria Rabinky: London Landmarks, Gibsons

His definition of speech as a microcosm of consciousness is useful here, since it can be extended to puzzles generally, and especially to riddles. Action, imagination, and abstract thought are the chronologically related stages through which each child passes on the way to mature thinking: that is, the child at first employs the imagination to carry out actions, proceeding to the use of expressive constructs such as single words standing for concepts, and fi nally using language and other expressive codes that underlie the emergence of abstract thought.

Clocktower Market

Clocktower Market, Gibsons

This developmental flow resembles the cognitive flow described above in the solution of puzzles, suggesting that puzzle- solving is a small- scale model of cognitive growth. Loft us and Loft us ( 1983 ) extended Vygotsky's model to the study of ludic activities generally a domain of investigation that has recently included video games ( Madigan 2015 ). Steven Johnson ( 2005 ), for example, argues that video games may actually be producing powerful new forms of intelligence, since they provide a channel for the same kind of rigorous mental workout that mathematical theorems do.

Jigsaw Puzzle, 150 Pieces, Maxi, Great Britain and Ireland

Jigsaw Puzzle, 150 Pieces, Maxi, Great Britain and Ireland, Gibsons

As a consequence, they improve the problem- solving skills of players, because of a Sleeper Curve, as Johnson anecdotally calls it. He took the term from Woody Allen's 1973 movie Sleeper , in which a granola- eating New Yorker falls asleep, waking up in the future, where junk food and rich foods actually prolong life, rather than shorten it. According to Johnson, video games are turning out to be cognitively nutritional aft er all. Whether or not Johnson's claim is sustainable empirically, it, nonetheless, falls into a line of inquiry that is useful for the present purposes