IQ Articles > Solving Sudoku Helps Improve IQ?

Solving Sudoku Helps Improve IQ?

Logic puzzles such as Sudoku are the cherry on the cake when it comes to exercising the brain. Earlier, oblivious to the world and only known to Japan, this game has briskly expanded its footprints and has taken the shape of a phenomenal fad. These addictive variations of the brain teasers have become a common feature of newspaper puzzle pages, brain storming books and quizzes.

The game demands neither mathematical ability nor general knowledge. The only skill required is the ability to recognize the difference between nine different symbols, and these don't necessarily have to be numbers. This is one of the reasons why it has turned into such a runaway success.

What is Sudoku?

Sudoku puzzles consist of a 9 x 9 grid which is split up evenly into nine 3 x 3 grids. Each row, column and 3 x 3 grid must contain the numbers from 1 to 9 without repetitions of the numbers. Some slots of the grid are provided with numbers; you are required to solve the rest of the puzzle via logical deduction. Sudoku puzzles can be very mentally demanding and are valuable as mental workouts for part of your brain training routine.

While there is no substantive evidence that brain teasers actually improve intellect, it is well proven that mental challenges help hone your sharpness. However this in no way implies that the same challenges have to be repeated over and over again. As you play a game the mind memorizes the tricks and techniques and automates the way you play and boredom settles. Thus it is important to move from one level to another, always evolving your tricks and speeding up your action.

Some types of the common Sudoku are:

  • Doof Sudoku - Arrange the numbers so that they appear only once on each row, diagonal row and column.
  • Killer Sudoku - Is a puzzle that combines elements of sudoku and kakuro.
  • Hyper Sudoku - Sudoku with overlapping regions

How Sudoku helps?

While playing Sudoku you need to look at the big picture and figure out missing numbers that you can plug in the right places. You can always time yourself and constantly try to outperform yourself.

Sudoku solving, trains your mind to process various forms of information, details, images and strategies at lightening speeds. While you devise strategies to win the game, it also builds your neural connections. It helps in extending dendrite connections in your brain cells which help improve memory. Scientists say solving them depends on neural pathways that even the most powerful computers can't replicate. They say that by studying how people solve the puzzles, we might be able to develop more intelligent and brain-like computers.

Which attributes are developed or sharpened while playing Sudoku?

To crack Sudoku our brain uses a unique set of neural pathways known as associative memory, which equips us to identify a pattern from a partial clue. We all recognize the basic pattern of counting digits from 1...9, yet the task of completing a Sudoku puzzle is confounded because of the large number of possible permutations of this pattern. But every time we plug the right digit in the correct slot it provides us with a clue, which reduces the number of permutations and simplifies the task.

Thus Sudoku is a marriage between logic and intelligent guesswork based on the abilities of associative memory.

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