The Brain

Posted on by Gabriel | 9 comments
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The Brain is a very interesting puzzle, using the Gray Code concept (after Frank Gray) or reflected binary code, which is a binary numeral system. It's produced by the American company Mag-Nif and dates back from 1973. It's still sold today and is actually one their most successful brainteasers to date.

The objective of the puzzle consists of getting all of its eight pegs out, but to achieve that you have to do a sequence of 170 correct moves. Sounds scary, but don't be intimidated by the big number. This may take some time to get used to if you're a casual puzzler, but it becomes quite easy and simple once you understand the logic.

Limiting your movements is a stack of disks that are locked and with every step, you will unlock them one by one until you have all the pegs out. Each peg is numbered from 1 to 8 and they can only have one of two possible positions. When they're closer to the center, they have a value of 0 or In, and when they're outwards, they have a value of 1 or Out. To move a specific peg, you need to make sure that you have the immediate lower numbered peg out and all the remaining lower ones in. This process is exactly the same until you have all the pegs out.

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Solving the puzzle will depend on how fast is your understanding of this logic is. It took me about 20 minutes or so to solve it and to get all pegs in again, it took less than 10 minutes, because I had the process all memorized by then. A similar puzzle based on this concept, the Spin Out, actually took me much more time to figure it out. Probably because at the time (three years ago), I was more inexperienced with these type of puzzles...

The current design of The Brain is pretty much the same from the original version, but the color has now been changed from black to red and the transparent plastic has a black and silver glitter effect. I don't have the older version to compare, but from what I've seen in photos, I like the appearance of this one better.

Closing Coments:

The Brain is a great example on how to turn an otherwise boring mathematical problem, into an interesting challenge and very fun to solve. It's a shame there's not many puzzles out there that use the Gray Code. I, most certainly, would love to try other puzzles like these. Besides this one and the Spin Out, I only have the Chinese Rings and Tower of Hanoi.

The Brain can be purchased at

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Delta said...

As i recall there was only two pegs that would move at any given time. As long as you continued to alternate between the peg that you had just moved and the only other movable peg at that time, you had it solved as fast as you could push the pegs. Reversing your pattern midstream was the only way to go wrong.

Gabriel said...

Since I wrote this review, I have seen some impressive videos on speedsolving this puzzle. It's a very interesting puzzle.
Cheers ;-)

Anonymous said...

My biggest problem is trying to find one online anymore. Mag-nif only makes this red version now, and I've seen reviews online where they say it's flimsier and cheaper in manufacture than the original black one. Besides I think the black one was cooler. I could do it in about 1.5-2 minutes I guess. Once you figure out the pattern it's pretty quick to accomplish. One of my all-time favorite brain games/puzzler..

Unknown said...

I think my record, as a kid, was 35 seconds "out" and 30 seconds back 'in". I can't find this game anymore. Boo.

Anonymous said...

Where can one be purchased?

Gabriel said...

Brilliant Puzzles has it in stock:

Amartei Amamoo said...

Anywhere else? Still out of stock!

Gabriel said...

It was in stock a couple of weeks ago. You're just out of luck. Don't know any other place. Maybe eBay, try it from time to time.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for taking the time to make this blog. Since I was a kid, this puzzle was in the closet at my grandparents and it was the one I could never figure out. My grandparents are long gone but I was visiting my uncle the other day and I saw it sitting on the shelf. I ask about it and he immediately took it from the shelf, blew the dust from it and solved it. I told him I had always loved it and he gave it to me, but didn't explain really how to do it like your page does. I solved this thing this morning for the first time in my life. Been in grandmas closet since the 70's. Thank you!

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