The puzzling thing about puzzles

A number of weeks in the past I talked about my night observe of doing jigsaw puzzles to calm down, as a pleasing different to browsing the Web.

Final week my daughter moved residence from faculty for the summer time. It’s been a number of years since she and I final did puzzles collectively, and I’d forgotten how a lot she likes them.

So now every evening we sit there, both aspect by aspect or throughout the desk from one another, every quietly engaged on some little portion of the identical jigsaw. Little or no is alleged, however it’s nonetheless the identical bonding time I’ve all the time cherished.

However I discover issues I’d by no means considered.

I all the time begin a puzzle like I believed most individuals do: Select the flat edge items to construct the surface body, then work inward from there.

However she doesn’t. As soon as the field is opened and items dumped out, she begins sorting them by patterns and colours, and begins there. The perimeters don’t get her consideration in any respect as she begins. She assembles like-pieces and step by step expands from there.


I imply, I’m a neurologist. Brains are my enterprise. So why are our thought patterns on the identical activity so totally different?

I’ve no clue.

That is a part of the thriller of the mind. Why totally different ones, though anatomically comparable, can operate so in a different way in how they method and clear up the identical drawback.

I can’t blame this on who she discovered from. We’ve been doing puzzles collectively since she was little. Give it some thought – do you even bear in mind somebody instructing you to do jigsaw puzzles in some unspecified time in the future? Neither do I. I assume a member of the family or schoolteacher confirmed me a primary one in some unspecified time in the future, and the way the items match collectively, however that’s a guess.

So I sit there engaged on my part and watch her doing hers, and the neurologist turns the entire thing over. Does she have extra neurons and/or glia in regardless of the “puzzle fixing” portion of her mind (I assume a part of visible reminiscence and spatial relationships) is? Or do I? Like a lot of neurology this could have a structural reply – I believe.

It jogs my memory of how little we nonetheless know. And it bugs me.

Has anybody completed PET scans whereas individuals work on jigsaw puzzles? I checked PubMed and couldn’t discover something. I doubt it as a result of logistics of getting somebody do one inside a scanner. Looking Google with the identical query solely will get me advertisements for personalized jigsaws of pets.

So I made the leap to doing a jigsaw puzzle on an iPad whereas in a PET machine. However even then, how do I do know I’d be testing the identical features? The touchscreen is analogous, however not the identical, as doing an actual jigsaw. (For my part actual puzzles are preferable to iPad ones, besides when touring).

On the finish of the day it’s a thriller I don’t know the reply to, most likely by no means will, and realistically shouldn’t suppose an excessive amount of about.

As a result of this summer time the true which means of the puzzle isn’t the jigsaw itself. It’s the younger lady sitting subsequent to me engaged on it.

Dr. Block has a solo neurology observe in Scottsdale, Ariz.

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