The similarities between the brain and the muscles of the body are surprising. Just as your muscles require constant working and stretching to grow and improve, your brain also requires hard, challenging work to continue its own development and growth. Also, like a muscle, sometimes your brain needs to woken up, warmed up for the day’s exercises.

One of the best ways to wake your brain up and get those synapses firing is to take on some mildly challenging brain puzzles. One of these in the morning before heading off to classes or work will get your day started off on the right foot. We’ve assembled a robust collection of 10 of these puzzles to get you started.

brain puzzlesThey are presented in quotations because we borrowed them from other people who are much smarter than we are. The answers are listed at the bottom of the page, but don’t look at them until you’ve worked your brain over each puzzle first. Good luck!

1. The Truthful Village and the Lying Village (National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences)

“A traveller comes to a fork in the road which leads to two villages. In one village the people always tell lies, and in the other village the people always tell the truth. The traveller needs to conduct business in the village where everyone tells the truth. A man from one of the villages is standing in the middle of the fork, but there is no indication of which village he is from. The traveller approaches the man and asks him one question. From the villager’s answer, he knows which road to follow. What did the traveller ask?”

2. On the Way to St. Ives (Best Brain Teasers)

“On my way to St. Ives I saw a man with 7 wives. Each wife had 7 sacks. Each sack had 7 cats. Each cat had 7 kittens. Kitten, cats, sacks, wives. How many were going to St. Ives?”

3. Three Burgers (Squigly’s Playhouse)

“Two mothers and two daughters went out to eat, everyone ate one burger, yet only three burgers were eaten in all. How is this possible?”

4. Bear Color (Pipers Patent Attorneys)

“A man builds a house rectangular in shape. All sides have southern exposure. A big bear walks by, what color is the bear? Why?”

5. Two Barbers (National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences)

“Suppose there is only one barber shop in your town, and it employs two barbers. One of the barbers has a nice, neatly trimmed head of hair. The other’s hair is a complete mess. Which of the two barbers should you go to and why?”

If these puzzles gave your brain a hearty, wake-up workout, then mission accomplished. We hope you won’t be offended that these puzzles are actually intended for elementary school-age children. If you’re ready to graduate to more advanced puzzles (for adults), try or

So maybe you have some brain puzzles of your own. Join the conversation below in the comments!

1. The traveler asked, “Which road goes to your village?”
2. 1. Just me.
3. They were a grandmother, a mother, and a daughter
4. The bear is white. The man built his house at the North Pole.
5. You want to go to the barber with the messy hair. If the two barbers cut each other’s hair (and it’s safe to assume they do), then you can be sure the messy-haired one is responsible for making the neatly coifed barber’s hair look so good.

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