Even if you don't realize it a cryptogram is a terrific memory improvement tool!
A cryptogram is a hidden message that is made out of different letters and symbols that have been scrambled. For example, you may be presented with the clue:
P G W O X H W
By following one of the methods mentioned below you are able to discover that the word is in fact "extract". You discovered that p = "e" g = "x" t = "w" etc.
To solve the puzzle, the player has to reassemble all the code so that the entire message makes sense. The puzzle can appear in different forms to manifest different levels of difficulty. Usually, the message comes in the form of a famous quote, proverb or anecdote. This makes the puzzles meaningful for everyone.
Sometimes the puzzle can start off with a few letters already displayed in the boxes - to give the player a head-start. These letters will give the player some clues as to what the word is, or what the message is about. The puzzle becomes increasingly difficult when it becomes encrypted. Being encrypted means that the letters are replaced by another set of symbols - like numbers. The players will have to first figure out what the numbers represent, then proceed to solve the puzzle.
As you can imagine, the process of identifying the code may take some time. So it's advisable to print out the puzzles and try them when you have some spare time on your hands.
There are two main techniques for finding the code.
The first technique is where you attempt to recognize patterns. For example if the cryptogram is a sentence look for single letter words -- you will find that this will probably represent the letter I or A.
Next look for words that have only two letters: there are only a few of these such as "an", "at", "we", "he", "it"", "us" "is" "to" "as", "in" The easiest to recognize are single-letter words, which generally can only be A or I (or, rarely, O).
The second technique is to try and find the most common letters (or the most uncommon) letters. For example in the English language the most frequently used letters are: ETAOIN followed by SHRDL. The least common letters are JXQZ.
It's a fairly sure bet that if you see a letter or symbol being used over and over it is highly likely that it is one of the most commonly used letters. Or if a letter only appears once or twice then odds are it is going to be a JXQZ.
For starters, it can be immense fun. And like all challenges, if you arrive at the solution quickly, you feel happy and satisfied with yourself. As you continue to practice, you notice that you get better at solving the puzzles. Why is that so?
This is because your brain is being constantly stimulated. Solving the code requires the use of different aspects of your brain - logic, memory, and even a little bit of intuition. By relying on these abilities, you are actually stimulating these very functions. And as they remain active, they become sharper as time goes by.
For this reason, cryptograms are often used by doctors, educators and memory experts as tools to assist memory improvement and improve the brain functions of their audience.
These types of puzzles are available freely on many websites and are often published by individuals who happen to love solving codes. However, if you wish to download and print unique, highly challenging cryptograms, you may have to pay a small fee.
In fact, many websites that offer puzzles for free syndicate their best, most challenging puzzles to newspapers and magazines for a premium. So these are good offline resources to use as well.
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