Are cryptic crosswords really ‘better than sex’?

Kathryn Friedlander explores the ‘kick’ we get from cracking a really good cryptic crossword clue.


A number of stories in the press earlier this year reported work carried out in Vienna and London on solving puzzles in a brain scanner. The study suggested that solving a clue to a puzzle can trigger a highly rewarding ‘Aha!’ (or ‘Eureka!’) insight moment, which releases dopamine into the brain. This is the reward chemical associated with daily activities such as eating, winning money … and having sex. This led to headlines promising that cryptic crosswords were ‘better than sex’… but what’s the reality behind the hype?

Continue reading

Why are psychologists playing games?

Gill Hill explains why investigating creative problem solving is sometimes – quite literally – child’s play.


People might be surprised to hear that the games they played as children can help scientists to explain how people think. For example, researchers have recently used rock, paper scissors as a model for decision making. Furthermore, chess is seen as a pursuit for ‘thinkers’ around the world, and we have consequently seen lots of research exploring psychological processes whilst people play.

Continue reading

Creativity ‘special issue’ – call for participation!

Novel Approaches for Studying Creativity in Problem-Solving and Artistic Performance – a Frontiers in Psychology Research Topic, coming out in March 2018

Kathryn Friedlander invites creativity researchers world-wide to contribute to an exciting Frontiers in Psychology Research Topic, which went live last week.


Shouldn’t research into ‘creativity’ be pretty creative itself?

Philip Fine and I certainly think so, which is why we’ve been working with Frontiers in Psychology over the past few months to launch a new Research Topic looking at Novel Approaches for Studying Creativity in Problem-Solving and Artistic Performance. The topic went live last week, and together with our other co-editors Roger Kneebone, Ian Hocking, Amory Danek and Bill Thompson we are busy advertising this opportunity as widely as possible, to connect with potential contributors. Do you fit the bill?

Continue reading