How do you know which crossword puzzle is one of those ones you’ve been meaning to solve for a long time?
If you’ve ever wondered how to find a puzzle with an “A” on the end, you’re in luck, because a new study suggests you should probably try one of the many “Anabolic Nervous System Activities” puzzles out there.
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of Maryland, found that solving the crossword involves three types of activities: Anabolic Nerve Activity (ANA), Antipsychotic Activity (APA), and Neurogenic Activity (NAA).1 In the ANA puzzle, you must figure out which of two dots are the A and which are the B, so you have to keep track of which is which.
Then you have a second puzzle, where you have two dots, but you can’t see which is the B because it’s not marked.
You have to guess which is B by finding the mark on the two dots.
Finally, there’s the Neurogenic activity puzzle, which involves two dots and you have the same problem, but instead of the dots you have “D” dots, which are dots that have been marked as being the B or A. These puzzles are called “Anatomical Activities,” and they are often used to solve complex cognitive problems, such as learning or reasoning.
The ANA, APA, and NAA puzzles have been around for centuries.2 And as it turns out, the ANAs aren’t the only ones that play tricks on us.
Scientists have also found that ANAs can also alter the way we process information and make us less capable of focusing and processing information, and in turn, less productive.3 These are the kinds of activities that help to keep us from getting too bored with the crosswords and the puzzles.
“In our experiments, we found that individuals who were more sensitive to ANA stimuli tended to perform worse on the ANAS task,” says study coauthor Emily Geddes, a graduate student in psychology at the university.4 In the APA puzzle as a whole, there are also “anxiety effects,” which are when your brain gets tense, and the ANTAs, APAs, and NASAs are all thought to play a role in this.
“There’s an association between anxiety and the Anabolic Activities, and there’s a lot of evidence that anxiety can influence cognition and behavior,” Gedds says.
“This study found that anxiety and cognitive performance were related to ANAS-related activity in the brain.”
In other words, ANA and APA have been linked to poor cognitive function and lower performance in people with low functioning ANASs.5 There’s also a group of research that suggests that APA and NASA activity may influence our emotions.
The “anxious and depressed” group was the most likely to perform poorly on ANA task.6 But if you’re an ANA user who’s been having trouble finding the crosswares that are the right puzzle, it may be worth exploring the APAs for yourself.
That’s because you might be able to figure out how to solve them without any cognitive or behavioral therapy.
“The ANAs and APAs are not necessarily the best things to try, because it may take a lot more cognitive processing than people are expecting,” says Geddis.
“And you could also just focus on the task and don’t think about the mental processes you’re trying to solve.”