Can You Find the Animal Hiding in These Lily Pads?
If you’re like me, you’ll throw your hands up after a minute and give up, swearing it’s a trick and there isn’t an animal hiding among the lily pads. That is, unless Pac Man counts as an animal. Once my eyes started to spin, that’s all those lily pads looked like to me: Pac Man.
We promise, though, there really is a hidden animal in this puzzle. Here’s the kicker: scientific studies show how easy it is for you to solve the puzzle might depend on whether you are a Pac Man or Ms. Pac Man. Yes, some studies suggest that there are actual differences in the way that mens’ and womens’ brains work.
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, for instance, scanned the brains of almost 1000 people–women, men, boys, and girls. They found that male brains tended to activate connections that go back-to-front, while female brains jumped more back-and-forth across the right and left halves. We usually associate the left half of the brain with logic, problem-solving and analysis. The right half is more connected to creativity, emotion, and expression.
So what does this mean? Past studies suggest that women tend to be better at things like multitasking and solving image puzzles, while men are better at unitasking and physically manipulating things in space. Experts think that differences in the way male and female brains are “wired,” like those the UPenn study revealed, might have something to do with this.
Other studies have shown that male brains tend to be larger overall than female brains, even when you account for differences in body size. However, female brains tend to have a larger cortex (a part of the brain affecting language, attention, and more).
Before you start to boast about who is better at driving, however, remember things are complicated. While there do seem to be gender differences in the way brains work, these don’t mean that every female is better at every male at solving puzzles, for instance. Health, learning, culture, and other factors influence each individual’s unique set of abilities.
This means differences in the way we tick can be expected, but things usually even out. For instance: men might navigate more by gauging distance and direction, while women are more apt to use landmarks. In the end, they both get to where they’re going (hopefully).
And one more thing: our brain’s aren’t “hard wired.” They can change the way they work over time. That means you can learn to do new things, or to do old things better, as well as forget memories and lose abilities.
So, now that you’ve had a little lesson in psychology, aren’t you ready to go back to that lily pad puzzle? Can you find the animal now? Do you have a strategy for solving the puzzle? And, what everybody wants to know: who can find it the fastest?