About a decade ago, some early scientific research suggested that playing memory games could increase “fluid intelligence,” which is the capacity to solve problems in novel situations, independent of acquired knowledge.
A spate of apps, books, and classes resulted, all claiming to make people smarter. Unfortunately, later studies proved that “braintraining” (as it’s sometimes called) has no effect on your general intelligence.
The most recent research in psychology and neuroscience, however, has found five effective strategies for improving your intelligence. Some of them may surprise you.
1. Believe that it’s possible.
According to a study cited by The New York Times, a group of students were given classes on how the brain works. Half were told that it’s possible to get smarter; the other were told the opposite.
When tested on the course materials, the first group retained 85 percent of what they’d heard while the second group retained only 54 percent. In other words, simply believing that you can make yourself smarter actually makes you smarter!
Apparently your brain takes cues from your beliefs and becomes more “cooperative,” thereby making it easier for neurons to build connections. Or, as Henry Ford once said: “if you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right.”
BTW, if this column reinforces your belief that it’s possible to take action to become smarter, the act of reading this article isn’t just conveying information; it’s actively making your brain more effective!
2. Socialize more frequently.
Social interaction, such as talking with friends and family, may also increase your intelligence.
For example, a study conducted from 1998 to 2004 showed that people who had more social interaction scored higher on memory retention tests given at two-year intervals.
Interestingly, the content of the social interaction doesn’t seem to be that important. The effect was greater for people who lacked a college degree, who presumably weren’t discussing existentialism or rocket science.
The brain benefit of being social makes sense when you consider that the human brain evolved to perform optimally inside the context of a “tribe.”
3. Exercise more regularly.
The advice “get plenty of exercise” is usually presented as a way to avoid stress-related illnesses.
However, according to the latest neuroscience, exercise increases the level of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that occurs in your blood and brain that “promotes the growth and formation of new neurons.”
Since that’s how the brain creates and reinforces memories, exercise is literally making you smarter. Indeed, exercise creates a measurable increase in the hippocampus region of the human brain.
Experience in the workplace bears this out. There’s a reason that so many CEOs and successful people start their day with exercise–they may not know it, but the habit is actually making them smarter and more competitive.
4. Drink more coffee or tea.
Multiple research studies show that stimulants have the positive effect of increasing your focus by releasing dopamine into the most important parts of your brain, increasing your long-term memory.
While there are prescription drugs that do this, the easiest way to block dopamine is to ingest a hefty dose of good old caffeine.
Caffeine also blocks the effects of adenosine, a protein that slows the brain down so that you can go to sleep. Less adenosine means that your neurons fire more often, making you smarter.
Finally, caffeine releases norepinephrine, which increases your reaction, memory retention, and the performance of your brain in general.
5. Daydream more often.
Contrary to popular belief, letting your mind wander isn’t mental laziness; it’s the exact opposite. When you’re daydreaming, your mind is crazy active.
Daydreaming stimulates imagination and creativity by allowing otherwise disconnected parts of your brain to wire themselves together with new neural pathways.
Research has shown that students who daydream on average do better on standardized tests than students who remain over-focused on the task at hand.
Daydreaming is also the first step in mindfulness training, the technique which Steve Jobs used to become more creative.
Reviewed by Dr. Victor Marchione, MD.
Written by Mohan Garikiparithi
| –> Brain Function | –> Published on October 10, 2020
Can you improve your memory and make yourself smarter? It’s very likely. Your IQ is not static, and incorporating a few routines into your day might be able to improve memory, cognitive function, and intelligence.
Brain games might be fun, but they are unlikely to do a lot to make you smarter or keep you ticking. Instead, try these things to help slow down brain aging.
1. Believe You Can Get Smarter:
It’s possible that believing you can get smarter is essential to building intelligence. One study showed that students who were told it was likely to get smarter significantly outperformed those told they could not.
Just how much did self-belief work? On tested material, the group believing they could get smarter retained 85% of what they learned. The ones told that smarts were static only recalled 54%.
It’s very likely that the brain takes cues from beliefs, so they work cooperatively.
It’s difficult to do these days, but talking to friends and family may help with memory. Talking on the phone or using virtual platforms like Facetime or Zoom can provide some very important communication.
One study that ran from 1998 to 2004 found that people who had higher levels of social interaction scored higher on memory retention tests taken at two-year intervals. Interestingly, what you’re talking about doesn’t matter—just that you’re engaging in a back and forth dialogue with others.
This cognitive benefit is unlikely to occur with social media use. Instead, look to real socialization involving two-way communication.
Daily exercise may also help boost memory and overall smarts. There is evidence to suggest that exercise increases brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes the growth and formation of new neurons.
This could help with memory retention.
4. Drink coffee or tea:
Daily caffeine consumption may also boost focus and improve long-term memory. This may work by caffeine effect on stimulating and releasing dopamine and norepinephrine while blocking adenosine.
Just be sure to limit consumption in the afternoon and evening. That’s when you’ll want the opposite effects.
These four daily habits could help you get smarter, remember more, and keep your brain healthy into the future.
It often seems like everything you do, touch, or eat can make you smarter or dumber. But that’s not quite the case.
There are, of course, plenty of ways to tweak your life in order to gain yourself a little cognitive advantage over the competition. The problem is that some have very little real effect. Others are more trouble than they’re worth. Here’s a guide to some of the most effective ways to boost your brain power.
Change your workouts
There’s a rapidly accumulating body of knowledge that suggests that physical exercise not only keeps your mind clear, but boosts intelligence, too. A study from the University of South Carolina , for instance, demonstrated that mitochondria—the tiny structures in cells that provide the body with energy—are created not just in muscles when you work out, but in your brain, too. The effect is that your brain is able work faster and more efficiently after exercise. And for any doubters who might suggest that such a phenomenon is placebo—research has recently proven that exercise’s effects on intelligence are in fact biologically causal .
Exercise Makes You Smarter By Giving Your Brain Extra Energy
Everyone knows exercise is good for you, and studies have previously shown that it can boost…
While you’re considering getting your fitness levels up, you may also want to rethink how you fuel your body. Stuffing your face with junk might stave off hunger pangs, but it sure ain’t keeping you alert. It turns out that that fish , berries and antioxidants delay cognitive decline, omega-3 oils can help regenerate brain cells and even just keeping your blood glucose levels even throughout the day—by snacking on nuts and the like—will keep your brain performing better. And if you’re really desperate, ingesting some of the bacteria found in dirt can speed up your hippocampus .
What ‘Brain Food’ Actually Does for Your Brain
You should eat salmon before a test, berries to prevent Alzheimer’s, or a vitamin supplement to…
Tweak your lifestyle
It’s not just what you do to your body that improves the brain, though—your lifestyle choices can have a huge impact, too. While it might sounds ridiculous, what you wear can affect your brain’s power to pay attention and perform tasks accurately. One recent study , for instance, had scientists perform Stroop tests —a simple psychological test which measures mental vitality—when wearing white coats, and when dressed normally. Turns out they did twice as well at the test when wearing the white coat. Interestingly, the team found that the effect didn’t remain when the participants were told they were wearing an artist’s coat—which suggests that any item of clothing that you perceive as being worn by intelligent, successful people will have an effect on your cognitive powers.
A Coat Can Make You Smarter
In a new study, researchers found that people wearing lab coats were better at paying attention and
Getting a good night’s sleep is another essential behavior that can maximize brain power. To get control of your sleep cycles , approach the process in stages. First tackle short-term behaviors, like limiting alcohol, avoiding caffeine in the evenings, and reconfiguring the bedroom furniture. Then, chart a path to long-term changes like anticipating sleep deprivation and sticking to a scheduled daily routine.
How to Reboot Your Sleep Cycle
Nothing can stand in for a good night’s sleep, so instead of discussing how we might scrape by with
While you’re altering your behaviors, you might also want to bulk-out your record collection . There have been plenty of studies researching the Mozart effect—which suggests that listening to classical music boosts brain power—with mixed results. But the general consensus seems to be that any music that you like listening to can contribute to a boost in dopamine levels in the brain, which is generally thought to improve cognition.
Will Listening to Mozart Really Make You Smarter?
Yes, but no more than listening to Justin Bieber. The misconception that there’s something unique…
There is, of course, a reason why most intelligent people seem a bit. odd. It’s because the two go together hand-in-hand. Fortunately, a couple of the tics commonly exhibited by brainiacs can actually help you out if you just copy them. First, you simply must start talking to yourself. A recent study demonstrated that repeating words helps the mind concentrate on what you’re repeating —in fact, it can even help you find things. In tests, the researchers showed that people can find objects—like a tin on a superstore shelf—much faster if they just repeat the name of the product they’re looking for.
Talking to Yourself Makes You Smarter
Talking to yourself is the preserve of mad men, right? Not according to a new study, which reveals…
If that sounds like child’s play, then why not embrace your inner kid and set aside some work time to daydream? Work right out of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science confirms that working memory capacity—the kind you use for temporary storage of information during longer tasks—is much higher in people who daydream. The best part? Working memory is directly correlated with IQ— people who daydream are in fact smarter .
Daydreaming Makes You Smarter
At high school, it’s invariably the kids that day dream who get told off. But a new study suggests…
Take drastic measures
If all this fails, of course, then it’s time to get radical. First off, how about a little DIY transcranial direct current stimulation ? Through military testing, DARPA has shown that TDCS can make you better at computer games and the US Air Force has also shown that it can cut pilot training duration in half . In the past, we’ve explained that it should—in theory—be possible to use a 9V battery to achieve similar results in the comfort of your own home . You’re on your own here, though—in practice it’s a dumb idea, and we take no responsibility for the results .
To Kick Ass at Video Games Just Zap Your Brain with a 9V Battery
Scientists, already adept at using magnets to screw with the brain’s ability to generate speech,…
Which leaves the worst case solution: real, hard work. You see, as you age, the part of your intelligence that really struggles to continue working as efficiently is known as fluid intelligence—it’s the ability to think abstractly, reason, and solve problems. And that stuff is important. But psychologists at the University of Michigan have shown that performing N-back exercises —which require you to remember how far back you saw a symbol or heard a noise in a series—for twenty days can boost your fluid memory for a whole three months . Whether you actually train yourself to be smarter than you ever were using the N-back test is still up for debate —but in the meantime, it can’t hurt.
It’s great to be smart, but intelligence is a hard thing to pin down. In many cases, how smart people think you are is just as important as how smart you actually are.
“I not only use all the brains that I have, but all that I can borrow.” -Woodrow Wilson
As it turns out, intelligence only explains about 20% of how you do in life; much of the other 80% comes down to emotional intelligence (EQ). EQ is a skill that’s so important that 90% of top performers in the workplace have high EQs and people with high EQs make $28,000 more annually than those with low EQs.
The hallmark of emotional intelligence is self-awareness, which involves not just knowing how you are but also how other people perceive you. People with high emotional intelligence are masters of influence–they’re skilled at altering their behavior to make the most of a given situation.
You might not be able to alter your genetics, but there are some proven strategies that can help you appear to be smarter. Some of these strategies seem arbitrary, but research shows they make a massive difference. That makes this good information to have, especially when you need to sway someone to your way of thinking.
1. Use a middle initial. John F. Kennedy. Franklin D. Roosevelt. It turns out there might be a reason that so many people who hold a prominent place in history used a middle initial. Not only does using a middle initial enhance your perceived social status, it also boosts expectations of intelligence capacity and performance. In one study, participants were asked to read and rate Einstein’s essay on the theory of relativity, with authorship being attributed to either David Clark, David F. Clark, David F. P. Clark, or David F. P. R. Clark. Not only did David F. Clark get higher ratings than David Clark, David F. P. R. Clark outdid them all. In another study, participants were asked to choose team members. For academic competitions, people who used middle initials were selected more frequently than those who didn’t. (It was quite a different story for athletic competitions.) So, if you want a quick perceived IQ boost, start using that middle initial.
2. Make graphs. Research conducted at Cornell suggests that people are more likely to trust a source if it contains graphs. In one of the Cornell studies, participants read a document on the effectiveness of a new cold medication. One report contained a graph; the other didn’t. Other than that, they were exactly the same. Still, 96% of the participants who read the report with a graph believed the claims, while only 67% percent of those who read the document without a graph thought the same. So, next time you create a document, stick in a graph. It doesn’t have to be complex; it just has to be accurate.
3. Skip that drink. And that’s not just because people tend to do stupid things when they’ve been drinking. A joint study conducted by the University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania revealed that merely seeing someone hold a drink is enough to make them seem less intelligent. It’s not that we assume less intelligent people are more likely to drink; it’s that the perceived correlation between drinking and cognitive impairment is so strong that we assume impairment even if there isn’t any. For example, although job candidates frequently think that ordering a glass of wine over a dinner interview will make them appear intelligent and worldly, it actually makes them come across as less intelligent and less hirable. There’s even a name for it: the “imbibing idiot bias.”
4. Believe in yourself. Nothing projects intelligence quite like confidence. When you believe in yourself, it shows, and research shows that believing in yourself improves your performance on cognitive tasks. Self-doubt, on the other hand, impairs your performance. What’s worse is that other people pick up on this doubt, which makes you appear less intelligent to them. If you want people to believe in you, you have to believe in yourself.
5. Write simply. If you’re really smart, you shouldn’t have to use big words to broadcast it. True intelligence speaks for itself, so you don’t have to show off your impressive vocabulary. In addition, you always run the chance of being wrong. Using a big word incorrectly makes you look, well, not so smart. So, if you want to appear more intelligent, stop studying the dictionary and just focus on communicating effectively.
6. Speak expressively. Communication expert Leonard Mlodinow makes the case that even if two people say exactly the same thing, the one who says it most expressively will be perceived as being smarter. “If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks a little faster and louder and with fewer pauses and greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent,” Mlodinow said. If you want to come across as more intelligent, modulate your speech by varying your pitch, volume, speed, and energy level.
7. Look ’em in the eye. We know we’re supposed to do this anyway–it’s good manners, right? That’s true, but it also makes you look smarter. In a study conducted at Loyola University, participants who intentionally managed their eye contact scored significantly higher on perceived intelligence.
8. Wear nerd glasses. Did your mom ever tell you to be nice to the nerds, because you’ll probably be working for them someday? As usual, mom was onto something. Research shows that people wearing glasses–especially thick, full-framed ones–are perceived as being more intelligent. So, if you want to seem smarter (when you’re giving a presentation, perhaps?), leave the contacts at home and wear your glasses.
9. Keep pace with the crowd. I mean this one literally. I know it may sound silly, but research conducted at Boston University shows that it’s true. It’s called the “timescale bias,” and it refers to our tendency to attribute greater intelligence–based on mental attributes like consciousness, awareness, and intention–to people who do things at about the same speed as everyone else. If you want to look smarter, you need to stop dawdling, but you also need to stop scurrying around like some crazed robot.
10. Dress for success. This one should be no surprise. Extensive research shows that how you dress affects how people see you. Dressing well makes you seem more intelligent, and showing skin makes you seem less intelligent, as it directs people’s attention to your body rather than to your mind. But did you know that how you dress also affects your performance? A recent study by Northwestern University found that making people wear lab coats improved their performance in tasks that required intelligence and concentration.
Bringing It All Together
Intelligence (IQ) is fixed at an early age. You might not be able to change your IQ, but you can definitely alter the way people perceive you. When it comes to succeeding in the real world, perception is half the battle.
What are some other things that make people seem intelligent? Please share your thoughts in the comments section, as I learn just as much from you as you do from me.
Being smart does not elusively entailed going to school and getting a doctorate degree. Sure, there is nothing wrong with getting a traditional education, but what’s more important is self-education.
If you are someone who is continuously self-taught and never stops learning, you are building up your brain power at all levels that exceed beyond someone’s else who are confined to institutional learning.
The following tips are going to help you broaden your new level of education, guaranteed to make you smarter fast.
- Read Books (Even Audio Books)
Guess what? Reading is fundamental. However, who has not said to themselves that they don’t have enough time to read. If you’re one of those people who have used this excuse in the past, it’s time to change all that.
Reading doesn’t require you to spend hours and hours on a book every day. Instead, you can start with one page at a time. The purpose of reading is not solely to be entertained; it’s to increase your vocabulary, help with comprehension, and enlighten you with information.
Still don’t have time to physically pick up a book? No problem. Just pick up audio books that deliver the same thing. All it takes is for you to passively listen while going about your day.
- Learn One New Word
Every day, learn a new word. You can do this through a variety of methods. You could go to a dictionary and start with A and work your way to Z, or you could purchase a vocabulary book from a store. You could also go to websites that feature a new word daily.
The point is to memorize as many new words, and use them at least once in your daily routine. The increase in stimulated neural activities will strengthen your brain down the line.
- Pick Up a Musical Instrument
If you don’t play any musical instruments, then it’s time to learn. Why? Because you want to force your brain to not only work with hand-eye coordination, you want to incorporate complex elements of sound. This includes reading music, playing sounds, and tuning. This helps with a variety of different motor skills, and can even expand your memory.
Musicians are notorious for being able to hold millions of notes and sounds and memorize long complex patterns. Not only that, they have to understand timing, math, and so much more.
If you master just one instrument, you’ll be able to smarten up faster than others when it’s time to learn something new.
For those of you looking to up your creativity and productivity as you make yourself smarter, then this list of brain-improving activities and ideas is for you. In fact, some of you might have already tried one or two of these activities, but hopefully some others will surprise you. And, of course, I’d love it if you could leave your own ideas after the article, in case I missed any other good ones.
Learn a Foreign Language
Language acquisition is a very complex process, one that we most often go through as babies and young children when our brains are still developing. A way to again create a similar development in our brains is to try to learn a new language when we are adults. Doing so will give us a complicated task that will train our minds in new ways, while also reinforcing our own understanding of our native tongue. It essentially sharpens our brains and helps us withstand memory problems as we age.
Create a Reading List
Reading lists give us a way to target our learning by helping us to focus on the kinds of information that we consume. We can create reading lists by subject area, by region or culture, and by time period in human history. Any sort of focused reading will allow us to delve into concepts to help us have a much better understanding, which helps our brain focus on complex tasks.
Another way to make yourself smart is to broaden your understanding of culture, such as the fine arts. Watch movies, visit art galleries, listen to music; cover your own culture or another culture. This kind of appreciation for culture can expand your mind in ways that you don’t often do, most likely, at your job. Understanding the arts will help you understand how and why society’s sometimes act the way they do. Plus you’ll be able to have great conversations at parties.
Get Enough Sleep
Have you ever tried to drive when you’ve had a bad night’s sleep? Scary, right? Well, think of how not getting enough sleep can also affect your mind’s activity. Sleeping at night gives our brain cells rest so that they can recharge and clear our heads. Research, such as that in this article, shows that sleep will actually increase your brain’s ability to function, thus making you smarter and able to process new concepts.
Eat and Drink Healthy
Eating and drinking healthy gives your body the nourishment it needs to keep your brain in top shape. Furthermore, certain kinds of nutrients can actually increase your neurons ability to function faster and more efficiently. For example, this article reports that food rich in magnesium can prevent migraines and food rich in vitamin B12 can prevent loss of brain function in the elderly.
Engage in Social Networking
When you work to make social connections, either online or in real life, you train your brain’s ability to understand the web of connections between different people and where they come from. Plus it will help you develop your ability to keep peoples’ faces with their names and remember who they are. In fact, recent studies on prisoners kept in solitary confinement show that brain activity had slowed so dramatically as to mirror the brain activity of someone with severe head trauma!
Play Video Games
Several recent scientific studies have shown that playing a certain kind of video game can help you become smarter, because the video games often train your hand-eye coordination, while also forcing you to use your critical decision making skills to traverse the often now extremely complicated worlds in these video games. Researchers in the UK found that children who played a brain training video game daily for 10 weeks actually dramatically improved their math scores.
Seek Out Educational Content Online
The internet can be a great source of distraction, but it also has a wonderful amount of educational resources to choose from. Often, many universities upload videos of lectures from their courses and visiting speakers. There are also many sites that allow you to take free classes, such as MIT’s OpenCourseWare programs. These resources can help you supplement your knowledge of certain topics, whether they are related to your career or your personal hobbies.
Watch Smart Television
Of course, I don’t mean you should watch crazy reality television. No, instead, you should watch educational channels such as The Discovery Channel or the History Channel, as these will often present in-depth documentaries about all manner of interesting subjects. You can also get away with watching intense and complex dramas or other fictional shows, as the often complicated plot lines and relationships between characters will force you to exercise your brain as you track all of the drama. According to the author Steven Johnson, several television shows can increase the viewers “mental acuity.”
Solve Brain Puzzles
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of brain teasers and other puzzles, like crossword puzzles and numbers puzzles. While some scoff at these kinds of exercises, they really can help you, especially if you are looking for a way to pass the time on a plane flight. It’s better to train your brain than to sit in the seat and watch the latest romantic comedy. The Mayo Clinic says that these puzzles will especially keep your brain going through into old age.
It is not an intelligence-boosting formula likely to impress an Oxbridge don: watching Countdown, playing Sudoku, remembering telephone numbers and taking a shower with your eyes closed.
Yet doing ‘brain exercises’ such as these can make us all up to 40 per cent cleverer within seven days, according to research by a BBC programme this week.
The tests conducted for Get Smarter in a Week appear to bear out the growing belief among scientists that making simple changes to our lifestyle can lead to significant improvements in how well our brains function.
The programme found that a combination of techniques based on healthy eating, physical activity, sound sleep and stimulating your mind through solving puzzles and remembering lists makes people sharper, more confident and better at making decisions.
The usefulness of such methods will be tested on 100 volunteers from around the UK in an experiment that will get two hours of prime time television on BBC1 on Saturday night. ‘IQ has traditionally been thought of as a fixed measure of someone’s intelligence,’ said Philip Morrow, the show’s executive producer.
‘But an increasing body of scientific opinion holds that you can take steps in your life to actually improve your brainpower by, for example, enhancing your memory, working on your spatial awareness, doing things differently to normal and eating healthily. Scientists say you will see noticeable improvements within a week. Our show is seeing if the science works.’
When the production team did trial runs among 15 volunteers, who each followed a ‘get smarter’ regime for a week, they expected their guinea pigs would be about 10 per cent cleverer at the end of it. What they found was that some performed up to 40 per cent better than in the initial assessment. However, one man who had gone out on a stag night the evening before the second test found his score 20 per cent down – proving that alcohol damages mental function.
The 100 contestants on Saturday’s show spent last week following as much of the advice in a 50-page Get Smarter Guide as they could manage. Its recommendations include moving around your home blindfolded, using your computer mouse with your ‘wrong’ hand for an hour a day, and playing games such as Scrabble and charades.
The results will be unveiled when the programme airs. But early indications are that the volunteers had benefited from taking part. ‘Some of them were ringing up and saying that this had totally transformed their lives or that they had had their first good night’s sleep in five years,’ said Morrow.
‘A lot of people feel they are under-performing in their life, that they are letting themselves down, in terms of their ability to handle events or thinking that people at work are cleverer than them. This programme shows everyone can get smarter, and feel better, if they do these things.’
· Get Smarter in a Week, Saturday, BBC1 at 6.35pm and 9pm
THE GET SMARTER GUIDE
Brush your teeth with your ‘wrong’ hand and take a shower with your eyes closed.
Do the crossword or Sudoku puzzle in your Sunday paper and take a brisk walk.
Have oily fish for dinner, and either cycle, walk or take the bus into work.
Select unfamiliar words from the dictionary and work them into conversations.
Go to yoga, Pilates or a meditation class, and talk to someone you don’t know.
Take a different route to work; watch Countdown or Brainteaser.
Avoid caffeine or alcohol; memorise your shopping list.
Growing new brain cells—or neurogenesis–is possible for adults.
For a long time the established dogma was that the adult brain couldn’t generate any new brain cells. That is, it was believed that you were born with a certain amount of brain cells, and that was it. And since you naturally lose brain cells as you age, after age 25 it was all downhill for your brain function.
The good news is that scientists have now discovered that you can grow new brain cells throughout your entire life. The process is called neurogenesis. Specifically, new brain cells–which are called neurons–grow in the hippocampus. This is the region of the brain that is responsible for learning information, storing long-term memories, and regulating emotions. This has many different positive implications. Here are some of the most important ways in which taking action to encourage neurogenesis can help you:
- As Dr. Amar Sahay–a neuroscientist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital–explains, developing new brain cells can help enhance cognitive functions. New neurons enhance your ability to learn.
- Growing new neurons can help you stave off Alzheimer’s.
- Neurogenesis will help you to keep your memory sharp.
- The growth of new brain cells can both treat and prevent depression, as well as help to reduce anxiety.
In order to make the most of your brain you need to do the following:
- Take Care of Your Brain Cells
- Grow New Brain Cells
- Keep the New Neurons From Dying
These three points are explained below.
Take Care of Your Brain Cells
Before we get into how to grown new brain cells, it’s important to note that you should take steps to take care of the brain cells you already have. Right now it’s very likely that there are things you’re doing which are damaging your brain cells. These include the following:
- Leaving Stress Unchecked. Stress can damage brain cells over time. Protect your brain cells by managing stress. Do things such as simplifying, meditating, and prioritizing your to-do list.
- Not Getting Enough Sleep. To begin with, scientists now believe that sleep “detoxes” the brain, flushing out waste products linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia. In addition, there is evidence to suggest that sleep deprivation kills a particular type of brain cell called locus ceruleus (LC) neurons, which play an important role in keeping us alert and awake.
- Following a Poor Diet. Eating a poor diet that’s loaded with industrial fats, refined grains, and sugar-sweetened treats is shrinking your brain. Data shows that the more junk food a person reports eating, the smaller their hippocampus tends to be.
If you’re doing any of the things above–leading a high-stress life, being sleep deprived, and eating a poor diet–, stop it. Your brain cells will thank you.
How to Grow New Brain Cells
This is where things get good. In a TED Talk, Doctor Sandrine Thuret, a neuroscientist at King’s College London, explains that until the 1990s people thought that adults couldn’t generate new brain cells. But now we know that they do.
Here, then, are 10 ways to grow new brain cells:
- Eat Blueberries. Blueberries are blue due to anthocyanin dye, a flavonoid which research has linked to neurogenesis.
- Indulge in Dark Chocolate. I’ve already encouraged you to eat dark chocolate in my post about longevity, as well as in my post about giving your mood a boost. Well, now it turns out that those delicious morsels of chocolaty goodness will also help you grow new neurons. This is because dark chocolate, like blueberries, contains flavonoids.
- Keep Yourself Engaged. Cognitive stimulation increases hippocampal neurogenesis. What does this mean? It means that you need to keep your brain engaged: learn new skills, interact with other people, travel, try new things, and keep stepping outside of your comfort zone.
- Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Foods that are rich in Omega-3 Fatty Acids — avocados and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, herring, and sardines —promote the growth of neurons. You can also opt for flaxseeds or flaxseed oil, chia seeds, and walnuts.
- Exercise. We can foster new brain cell growth through regular endurance exercise, such as jogging. Here’s how it works: jogging stimulates the production of a protein called FNDC5. In turn, FNDC5 stimulates the production of another protein in the brain called Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), which stimulates the growth of new nerves and synapses. If jogging is not your thing, try walking briskly.
- Eat Turmeric.Not only does the yellow spice turmeric help with neurogenesis, but a study conducted relatively recently found that turmeric may contribute to the regeneration of a ‘damaged brain’ and help with neurological disorders. One thing you can try is to add a teaspoon of turmeric to your morning or afternoon smoothie.
- Have Sex. Having frequent sex can help you to repopulate your brain (pardon the pun).
- Drink Green Tea. Specifically, the compound epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) found in green tea is the element which has been linked to the growth of new brain cells.
- Expose Yourself to Sunlight. When your body is exposed to natural sunlight, it produces Vitamin D. Vitamin D increases levels of BDNF in the brain — as was previously mentioned, BDNF promotes neurogenesis.
- Intermittent Fasting.Dr. Thuret explains that she eats every other day. On the days in which she fasts she’ll grab a big latte and then maybe later an apple and a cereal bar. The other days she eats normally. She explains that when you fast intermittently you’re mildly stressing your brain, and it’s likely that this leads to an increase in neurons so you can search for food more efficiently.
As you can see from the list above, there are lots of simple things you can do to grown new brain cells. Once you’ve grown new brain cells, you need to maintain them. You’ll discover how in the next section of this blog post.
How to Keep the New Brain Cells Alive
Everything mentioned in the section above will help you to grow new brain cells. But growing new neurons is not enough. You also have to keep the new neurons alive.
Studies show that new neurons are kept alive by learning that requires effort; this means a process that involves concentration in the present moment over an extended period of time.
I, on the one hand, feel very optimistic about the fact that I can grow new brain cells. I hope you do too. And now I’m going to have some green tea with two squares of dark chocolate, and then spend some time on my chess game. After all, I have to put my new brain cells to good use. 🙂
Live your best life by growing new brain cells with the tips explained above. You’re in charge of your neurogenesis!
No one wants to sound dumb. However, texting and emojis have taken over the world — so it becomes difficult to remember how to use the English language to its fullest extent. I find this happening in the business world. I’ve been getting a lot of emails from professionals that look anything but professional. I also found that it’s easy to let common phrases work their way into our daily conversation, ones which make us sound less professional than we would prefer.
To boost our brainpower reputation among those around us, here are some more intelligent-sounding phrases to use in conversation or in written communication:
We’ve received many accolades. Everyone knows what a compliment is but the term, “accolade,” is not heard that often anymore. It was often associated with receiving knighthood but is now linked with an award or praise. With this regal connection, accolade just sounds as though the honor received was higher than any other.
It was more of a blunder than a failure. Not only does blunder sound as though it’s a more intelligent word, but it also tends to downplay the extent of what might have happened. A blunder is essentially a mistake, but it does not have the weight that a “failure” or a “mistake” carries. Also, failure is so commonly used for all types of situations, including those where there has not been a true failure. Instead, blunder is a polite and academic way of saying “oops” that just sounds more grown up. A neat grammar fact is that blunder works as a noun and a verb, but failure does not, making it the more intelligent, clever choice.
This problem is baffling. Like blunder, baffling just sounds smarter than some of the other words used today to express confusion, such as WTH, WTF, and huh. None of those sound as smart as baffling or making the concept and emotions that are involved seem so civilized and acceptable. If a problem is baffling, it gives off the idea that it could be potentially more than just challenging in nature, deepening the seriousness of the issue.
That’s quite jocular. Everyone knows what “LOL” means and saying something is “funny” is pretty basic, but when you retort, “That’s quite jocular,” you will most likely get a pause. In that pause, you can be pretty confident that “jocular” is being typed into Google because this way of letting someone know that you find them humorous is pretty “highbrow.”
We are becoming demiurgic in our product development. Everyone knows “innovative product development.” Yawn. Now, if you tell them that your company is becoming demiurgic, some eyebrows might be raised in curiosity. What you are saying in a very sophisticated way is that your organization has a powerful creative force. This might even be a great addition to your company’s mission statement, raising the bar on what is expected from your talent. Find what works for you.
An entrepreneur has to be assiduous to succeed. While the first reaction to this phrase might lead to a somewhat negative meaning to the word, the real meaning of assiduous is anything but that. We’ve all heard words like “committed” and “hard working” used to describe what an entrepreneur does but if you say that they must be assiduous, it elevates the feeling of how they approach what they do. Being assiduous means being unremitting, working tirelessly and diligently, and persevering at all costs. This intelligent way of describing an entrepreneur essentially captures the passion and drive that goes into creating and growing a startup. It also helps weed out the fakepreneurs that are out there.
Everyone needs their own impetus to do more. Another overused word is “motivation” to the point where it simply doesn’t do its job anymore. However, adding to the intelligence quotient is to switch it out for “impetus.” This word means stimulations resulting in increased activity, a driving force, and impulse — all connotations that carry a higher level of action and result than motivation. It’s just one of those awe-inspiring words that, when used, might even light a fire under those hearing it.
Our goal is to serve as the paragon in our industry. When someone says they want to be the best, it just doesn’t mean anything because everyone says that. However, if you were to talk about becoming the paragon of your industry, you can garner some well deserved attention. Paragon means a model or pattern of excellence and is synonymous with other intelligent words like “epitome,” “ideal,” and “quintessence,” all of which can make you and what you are doing with your company sound that much more intelligent.
It’s good to have aspirations. We can all say we have goals, but when we talk about our aspirations it raises the bar on the intent and feeling attached to the action. An aspiration comes with a strong desire and sense of ambition that gives it more action than just a “goal.” Aspire means to reach upwards so not only does this make you sound more intelligent, but it also seems like you can and will accomplish a lot. I also find that using phrases like this helps me to really connect with others on a much more personal level.
I just read the most amazing book. While all the phrases on this list have focused on using words whose rarity and depth of meaning makes them more intelligent, this last phrase lets others know that you are working on your intelligence and to stay tuned for many more intelligent things said in the near future. Reading feeds your mind, expanding your vocabulary and perspective simultaneously, and builds a better, more understandable you.
The result of adding these phrases and delving into books for more like them is that you will be more interesting and create value. The information and knowledge that you can impart will set you apart from others, driving a greater level of respect, credibility, and authority.