Cognitive Testing Blocks™



The Cognitive Testing Blocks™ are a set of 13 sealed boxes, each one about 6 inches square and one inch tall. The user shakes, rolls and maneuvers each box, listening to the sounds the object inside the box makes, then tries to identify the shape of the enclosure and the nature of enclosed object. Starting with number one, each box presents a different but related cognitive challenge. They are resented in an order that allows what is learned from each to be used in analyzing the next challenge. This will test the user’s tactile and auditory skills.

The object of the exercise is to identify both the shape of the enclosed cavity and the nature of the object or objects within. Some blocks may have more than one object inside and they may be in a single cavity or in separate cavities. The contents of the boxes can only be addressed by non-visual means. The Cognitive Testing Blocks™ are designed for the use of educators and individuals who engage in neuropsychiatric testing and research but may also be used as entertainment for individuals or groups, supervised or on one’s own.



Special features

  • All boxes look identical – contents vary
  • Testing methods for cognitive studies
  • Enhances cognitive functions
  • No visual elements
  • Can be used by educators and psychologists
  • Can be used as a learning tool
  • Individual or group use
  • Great for team-building
  • Inexpensive to manufacture




The Cognitive Testing Blocks™ are a tactile and auditory puzzle that consists of thirteen externally identical square boxes, or blocks. Each block measures roughly 6 inches on an edge, and about an inch in thickness. The blocks are sealed shut and cannot be opened by a user. They are made of opaque material and have a hollow cavity inside. The shape of the internal cavity and its contents are not visible to the user but are to be determined by manipulation of the box. By means of tilting the box in a variety of ways, a tactile or auditory “signature” becomes apparent, and the internal object can thus be used as a “probe” with which to “explore” and form an impression as to the shape of the internal cavity and the shape and material properties of the internal objects.

Each of the thirteen boxes is different and they are presented as a set.  Some are intentionally very simple. For example, one consists of a circular cavity with a steel ball bearing therein. When such a box, held horizontally, is swirled in a circular pattern, the motion of the ball generates a tactile and auditory signature that is relatable to the unseen circular cavity. It is also possible to state from examination that the unseen object is solitary rather than multiple.  Individuals should be able to make the determination that the cavity is round, that it is an open circle, and that the internal object, based on its inertia and the sound-signature of its mode of movement, is likely to be a metallic sphere, in contradistinction to, say, a glass marble or a plastic marble that might be presented in another box in the set.

For purposes of cognitive testing, the boxes may be presented to a subject (or user) all at once, or in a specific order, the order selected such that what is learned from each individual box in a series has the potential to bear on the understanding and interpretation of the sound signature of succeeding boxes, By going back and forth between boxes, an individual subject, or a group of individuals working together, can derive an inventory of specific strategies that can applied to each block. By tilting, swirling, shaking, rotating from end to end, etc., the movement of internal objects and the sounds thus generated are revealed. The user should be able to arrive at a hypothesis regarding the shape of the enclosed space and nature of the moveable object inside each box.  So, for example, the rolling of a sphere inside a circular cavity generates a different tactile/auditory signature than does a cylinder or cone moving within a square enclosure.  A methodical participant is likely to catalog the sound signatures associated with objects of different shapes.

The set of Cognitive Testing Blocks™ incorporates a series of different interpretive challenges, but all are designed to be simple, elemental in nature, and interpretable through the application of a methodical approach by the user. In the design of the blocks, the intention was to select a series of graded and interrelated challenges that lead the user forward and to provide a positive learning experience. This process enhances the ability of a participant to use sound and touch in unaccustomed ways in the study of three-dimensional spaces containing familiar but unseen objects.

This system of Cognitive Testing Blocks™ can be employed as a puzzle, or a game, but the ulterior motive of the inventor was to devise a modality worthy of academic study with the ultimate goal of developing standard protocols for the use of the blocks in a psychological or cognitive testing milieu. It is hoped that this system may be of special utility in teaching and in evaluating visually impaired subjects. It should be possible to arrive at performance metrics in the use of this system when used as a testing modality that can be related to the scores obtained from the same subjects in other, well-established testing modalities.  It is speculated that this system might also prove to be useful in conjunction with functional MRI modalities to explore normal and disordered functional interactions between the visual and auditory centers of the brain.

Preliminary experience with this system in a group setting suggests that it has promise in structured “team building” exercises in a classroom, in the corporate environment, or to teach group problem-solving skills. Future possibilities include incorporating the Cognitive Testing Blocks™ into a computer-based environment.

This is an image of a sample testing block without the lid. The thirteen blocks are different with respect to the features of the cavities and the nature of the contents within the cavities. The Cognitive Testing Blocks™ are designed to provide an interesting and educational challenge: one that encourages the user to intuitively develop a new set of cognitive tools by which to explore and problem-solve in a three-dimensional space using tactile and auditory inputs in the absence of visual input. They are not intended to frustrate or confuse the user. The shape of the cavities and nature of their contents are of elemental simplicity but for their being deliberately concealed from view, providing an non-visual cognitive challenge.

Materials needed to produce the Cognitive Testing Blocks™:

  • Box frames
    • Wood or plastic
    • Six inches
    • One and one-half inches thick
  • Objects (to seal inside)
    • Ball bearings
    • Marbles
    • Rings
    • Cylinders
    • Miscellaneous other items
  • Packaging for set of thirteen boxes
  • User manuel for test administration


The Cognitive Testing Blocks™ is covered by United States Utility Patent:  8,695,979






For additional information, licensing opportunities, and a full prospectus on the Cognitive Testing Blocks  contact:




VP of Business Development