When it comes to thinking about cryptic crossword solvers, what kind of image springs to mind? Maybe Chief Inspector Morse, a vicar, or a bowler-hatted Civil Servant? But would you be right…? Kathryn Friedlander shares new research lifting the lid on the mind of the cryptic solver – and finds that they are an academically able group, tending towards science, with fantastically flexible problem-solving abilities.Continue reading
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?
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.
Gillian Hill reports on preparations to help celebrate the 50th birthday of Milton Keynes at a festival to celebrate Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics in Middleton Hall, Milton Keynes Shopping Centre (7th/8th July)
Final preparations are underway for our Pop-up Lab. showcasing the University of Buckingham’s Psychology Research Hubs which – of course – includes CREATE.
The challenge was set by MK Innovates to provide exciting and interactive activities that engage young people – and especially girls – from Milton Keynes and the surrounding area with science. As always, the CREATE team were keen to get in on the act and we’ve identified some core aspects of our research to showcase at the event.
Soapbox Science may be just the platform you need to launch your academic career. Gill Hill looks back over her personal successes of the past year, since her appearance at Milton Keynes, and urges all female scientists to take the plunge.
About this time last year I noticed an announcement on the University of Buckingham‘s round-up email. It was a call for female scientists to take part in our local Soapbox Science event, to be held in Milton Keynes shopping centre in the summer of 2016. Although initially hesitant, I talked myself into applying, thinking it would be good for me to have to talk about my PhD research to a public audience.
One year on I thought I’d reflect on my Soapbox experience, in the hope of encouraging other female scientists to apply.
Study reveals what it takes to become a cryptic crossword expert – and it’s more than just practice
You may have heard of the “10,000-hour rule”, the belief that it takes thousands of hours of intense practice to become an expert in something. Training and practice are clearly vitally important in many highly competitive areas such as sports, music and chess. But is that really all it takes to achieve greatness?
Recent research suggests that other factors such as genetics influence the likelihood that you will try, enjoy and excel at a performance activity. We decided to test that theory in the highly challenging arena of cryptic crossword solving. Continue reading