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Neurobics: Name Recognition

Kim, Scott Ph.D.

doi: 10.1097/01.NNN.0000399232.30973.9f
Departments: The Waiting Room

People with aphasia have trouble understanding or producing language. Sometimes aphasia interferes with written language; sometimes it interferes with speech. Curiously, a person with aphasia may retain the ability to recognize letters but lose the ability to fuse letters into words.

Here is a puzzle that will give you a taste of what it is like to have trouble reading words. Each name below identifies a famous writer. I have distorted the names to make them harder to read. For instance, I blurred the first name, which is “William Shakespeare.” Can you identify the other writers?

To read names 6 and 7, hold the magazine up to your eye so the page is parallel to the ground, and look at the letters edge-on.



This puzzle was adapted from the book The Playful Brain: The Surprising Science of How Puzzles Improve Your Mind, by Richard Restak and Scott Kim (Riverhead Books 2010). For more information, visit

Scott Kim


©2011 American Academy of Neurology