Forget complex math problems, logic puzzles, memorization. The hardest thing you can try to do with your brain is to not think about something. It's virtually impossible. But why? As New Scientist explains, it has to do with what thoughts are actually made out of.
You might just think of analogies as being clever constructions, put together by smart people, to help you understand complex problems—but there's more to them than you might think.
For the first time, scientists have been able to use data from brain scans to identify who patients are thinking about.
If you've ever wondered what thinking about nothing looks like, here it is. It's the result of an experiment by artist Gustav Metzger, who hooked himself up to a robotic carving machine—while thinking long and hard about absolutely nothing.
Taking the SAT, crunching through a tough problem at work, or even concentrating while driving in difficult conditions can leave you feeling physically exhausted. But does thinking really hard burn more calories, or does the exhaustion come from somewhere else?
Visualizing how the world's ideas fit together is no mean feat. But now you don't have to struggle, because Brendan Griffen has mined Wikipedia to create a map of how the world's greatest thinkers influenced each other.
If you're hung up on a brain-twizzling problem, crack a brew. A new study from the University of Illinois suggest that, contrary to common belief, alcohol's buzz might actually improve your problem-solving skills.