When it comes to giving the human brain a great work-out, it seems nothing works better than the addictive Japanese game Sudoku.
The study was conducted by Professor John Hopfield of Princeton University who explored the unique brain processes that are used when playing Sudoku.
He found that to crack the game, brains use a unique set of neural pathways known as associative memory, which enables us to discover a pattern from a partial clue.
Hopfield suggests that by studying how people solve the puzzles, experts might be able to develop computers that are capable of sophisticated associative memory, something that they are not capable of as yet, even though they can store large amounts of information and process it at great speed.
He also provides an algorithm of associative memory through the study that he says could be implemented in silicon chips.
"In neural terms, the signals developed ... can produce a strong and reasonably accurate feeling of correctness of the item retrieved," ABC news quoted Hopfield, as saying.
"This fact may account for our strong psychological feeling of 'right' or 'wrong' when we retrieve a memory from a minimal clue," he added.
Associate Professor Andrew Paplinski, an Australian computer scientist who specialises in neural networks at Monash University in Melbourne, said that by applying the process described by Hopfield, boffins could even come up with an accurate facial recognition computer technology.
The paper was published on the arXiv physics website.