In a paper published earlier this year, he brought profession and hobby together by analysing the mental processes of crossword solving Psychonomic Bulletin and Review , vol 18, p Most of our mental machinations take place pre-consciously , with the results dropping into our conscious minds only after they have been decided elsewhere in the brain. Intuition plays a big role in solving a crossword, Nickerson observes.
Indeed, sometimes your pre-conscious mind may be so quick that it produces the goods instantly. At other times, you might need to take a more methodical approach and consider possible solutions one by one, perhaps listing synonyms of a word in the clue.
Crossword Puzzles: Books
Nickerson points to work in the s by Peter Farvolden at the University of Toronto in Canada, who gave his subjects four-letter fragments of seven-letter target words as may happen in some crossword layouts, especially in the US, where many words overlap. While his volunteers attempted to work out the target, they were asked to give any other word that occurred to them in the meantime. The words tended to be associated in meaning with the eventual answer, hinting that the pre-conscious mind solves a problem in steps.
Should your powers of deduction fail you, it may help to let your mind chew over the clue while your conscious attention is elsewhere. For verbal problems, a break from the clue seems to be more fruitful if you occupy yourself with another task, such as drawing a picture or reading Psychological Bulletin , vol , p So if 1 across has you flummoxed, you could leave it and take a nice bath, or better still read a novel.
Or just move on to the next clue.
Pre-conscious processing is hidden from us, so it is not clear how the mind sifts through our mental lexicon to answer a clue. As written language is only a recent reflection of the long-evolved spoken word, Nickerson suspects that sounds are important. You probably had little trouble with the first four, but may have struggled with the last one. Nickerson thinks that is because the only common word ending in -eny has a different pattern of stress from the natural way of reading the three-letter fragment. Research supports this idea, showing that a three-letter syllable forms a more effective clue than three other consecutive letters.
So our mental dictionary is not just alphabetical, but also phonological.
“The Penny Drops”: Investigating Insight Through the Medium of Cryptic Crosswords
In which case, it may help to say the clue or your guesses out loud. When solving these puzzles, you might initially have a strong feeling about whether you know the answer or not — and these intimations are likely to be right. The latter, more irritating state is the feeling that an answer will come soon, rather than that it will come eventually.
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Language: English. Brand new Book. A unique cross between crossword and cryptic visual puzzle, these are the most popular picture puzzles in the Daily Mail, and are perfect for crossword fans looking for something a little bit different to test their skills. Seller Inventory HUK Book Description Octopus , London, Seller Inventory Book Description Condition: New.
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Book Description Paperback. Not Signed; Professor Rebus is back with a third volume in this best-selling series of perplexing pictogram puzzles. A unique cross between crossword and cryptic visual puzzle, these are the most popular picture puzzles in the Daily Mail, and are perfect for crossword fans looking for something a little bit dif.
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Publisher: Hamlyn , This specific ISBN edition is currently not available. View all copies of this ISBN edition:. Synopsis About this title Professor Rebus is back with a third volume in this best-selling series of perplexing pictogram puzzles. Book Description : Pit your wits against Pitcherwits, where the only way to solve the crossword is to decode the pictogram clues.