Wouldn’t it be great if you could increase your intelligence, so you could think more clearly, make wiser choices, and achieve more in life? Now neuroscience is revealing that there are some ways in which you can naturally boost your brainpower.
Scientists have discovered that certain activities can improve your ability to process information, make decisions, learn new things, and solve problems. While some of these things will give your brain a bit more flexibility, other activities can improve your intelligence permanently by building up vital regions of the brain and strengthening synapses.
Everyone knows that exercise is good for you, but not everyone realizes that aerobic exercise can make you smarter. Doing gentle, low intensity cardio, such as jogging, swimming, walking, or cycling has the potential to boost your brainpower — permanently.
Research conducted by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign showed that doing aerobic exercise for just 45 minutes three times a week can improve your ability to memorize, plan and multi-task by about 20 per cent. Exercise expands the hippocampus, the part of the brain that is used in learning and memory. It also grows new connections in the brain, which means that you’ll have a larger brain capacity if you exercise.
Diet could be one of the most important factors in how well your brain works, according to neuroscientists. Certain vitamins and minerals can assist brain function, and how often you eat can also affect your brainpower. The ‘B’ class of vitamins seem to be of the most benefit to the brain, with B12 boosting memory and B6, B9, and B12 helping the brain to work faster.
Imbalanced blood sugar can be the cause of foggy thinking and confusion. The brain needs glucose to function properly, but too little or too much can make your thinking cloudy. Eating several small meals a day can ensure your brain gets a steady flow of energy. Avoid brain toxins, such as alcohol and super-refined sources of sugar, which can interfere with optimal brain function.
Spending time talking with other people can improve your ability to think quickly and remember more. People perform better on memory tests after they have been engaged in conversation with other people, experiments have shown. Social psychologists at the University of Michigan found that people who had just interacted socially also did better on tasks where they were asked to recall items quickly.
The quality of social interaction was important, researchers said, when it came to boosting cognitive performance. Quality social interaction involves engaging with another person and trying to understand their perspective. A little healthy debate could offer an immediate improvement in how quickly you can process patterns of information, science suggests.
Learn A New Language
The more foreign languages you learn, the brainier you can become, scientific research reveals. Learning new languages improves your mental agility as well as boosting your memory — and the benefits are even more apparent as you age.
According to scientists at York University in Toronto, learning new languages helps to improve brain function at any stage in life. In addition, speaking several languages can also help keep your memory sharp as you grow older. People who speak four or more languages have five times better cognitive function later in life than those who only speak two.
Play Computer Games
Playing computer games can improve your reaction times, your spatial awareness and your ability to think flexibly. Crucially for people in business, certain types of video game can better your ability to think strategically and make quick decisions.
Research carried out by the University of London revealed that action games, such as Halo, can help people make speedier choices, while fast-paced strategy games, such as StarCraft, improve players’ ability to multi-task, think quickly and learn from mistakes. In other studies, the computer game Rise of Nations was shown to improve memory and reasoning. Players consistently performed better in testing after playing more complex, challenging games.
Meditation can make your brain work more efficiently, by strengthening areas of the brain responsible for focus and interpreting sensory signals. The benefits of meditation, unlike some other activities, improve overall brain capacity — meaning you actually become smarter.
Neuroscientists at the University of Miami found that people who practiced Mindfulness meditation regularly were able to change the structure and function of their brains to make themselves more intelligent. Mindfulness meditation in particular improves people’s ability to concentrate and to think flexibly. Classic Mindfulness meditation involves focusing on one’s breathing, to the gentle exclusion of all other thoughts.
Surround Yourself with ‘Believers’
Having other people around you who believe in you can actually increase your IQ and help you achieve more. A psychological study, which coined the term The Pygmalion Effect, showed that what others think you can achieve has a massive impact on your own cognitive abilities.
In the study, teachers were secretly told that particular children in their class were gifted and would bloom academically over the coming school year. Even though the “special” kids were chosen completely at random, and were not let in on the secret, their IQs rose more than their schoolfriends’ did over the next few years. People who believe in you will put in more effort to help you succeed, learn and improve yourself. Surround yourself with encouraging teachers and a loyal team.
Sleep is one of the most important activities for human beings. It not only recharges our bodies, but is also a vital time for growing and strengthening parts of the brain. Human beings may actually be better problem-solvers and thinkers while they are asleep.
When we are asleep our brains are given a rest from normal external input, allowing the brain to concentrate on processing problems. This is why some people report coming up with genius ideas and inventions in their dreams, or just after a nap. A study carried out at the University of Luebeck found that people who had eight hours of sleep were three times more likely to figure out a mathematical problem than those who were sleep-deprived. Researchers found that deep sleep helped the brain to be more creative and insightful. Other studies suggest that human beings function optimally with around six hours sleep a night, topped up with a two-hour nap in the daytime.