Everyone is aware of the need of maintaining a healthy body to live a long, fulfilling life, but what about your brain? How might your daily activities help you think more clearly? How can you give your brain a boost?
You may consume a lot of coffee and energy drinks to get a quick boost, but I think it is safe to say that we all know that doing so is bad for our health. Let’s examine some tried-and-true strategies for improving your brain health that are both beneficial to you and backed by research.
1. Brain training
Psychologists have long known that while we can frequently do more with what nature has given us, it is not always easy to improve our basic cognitive skill levels. At least until recently. Basic cognitive skills, such as the speed at which we process information, are fairly stable throughout our lives.
With all its neuroscientific gravity and claims of true benefits to our basic cognitive abilities, such as working memory and decision-making speed, brain training is the newest player on the self-improvement scene. On a person’s laptop, tablet, phone, or personal computer, brain training is frequently conducted online. In order to make brain training seem more like a recreational pastime than an educational endeavor or a therapeutic intervention, it is frequently gamified. And these games frequently engage specific brain regions that are important for intellectual activity.
Neurogenesis is a now well-documented process that can result from practice at these tasks. The concept is that the right kinds of mental activities can literally strengthen our brains. Because psychologists now have a good understanding of which parts of the brain are responsible for certain types of talents, they can design exercises that specifically target those regions, which should theoretically allow us all to become more rational thinkers, more creative thinkers, and more agile thinkers.
The exciting new wave of interest in what psychologists refer to as “cognitive training” has undoubtedly crowded the sector with all kinds of charlatans. The absence of data supporting the benefits of brain training has become a recurrent issue in the media’s pop science supplements. And it’s true that a lot of brain training businesses make implausible claims that leave the scientific community scratching its head in skepticism. This does not lessen the reality, though, that scientists are becoming more and more conscious of the fact that the human brain is constantly growing and changing. Cognitive activities that promote this growth and change will undoubtedly result in physiologically more fully developed brains.
Psychologists are also as certain as we can be that stimulation actually causes brain cell connections to increase and that stimulated brain areas therefore exhibit demonstrably higher levels of development. Although all the research and theory point in the right direction, we are less certain that brain training may actually help us become more clever, perceptive, and creative in our thinking. Psychologists are very confident that a task known as the dual N-back task can indeed increase at least one significant aspect of intelligence, known as fluid intelligence, significantly and over the long term (that is, at least several months), according to some very well-known research published by Professor Susan Jaegii and colleagues.
Another study by Cassidy, Roche, and Hayes (2011) published in “The Psychological Record” indicated relational skills training, a behavior-analytic method of intellectual skills training, gave learning-difficult youngsters an IQ boost of about 13 points. It might be argued that some brain training games haven’t stood up to scientific testing and haven’t proven to be more effective clinical tools than simple games. However, this doesn’t change the reality that brain training approaches are at the forefront of a revolution in psychology. Your brain will actually have extra power after using these approaches.
2. Maintain high levels of mental activity
The more discussions you or your child have as children or as adults, the smarter you or they become. Therefore, engage in more talks if you wish to strengthen your own or your child’s brain. As soon as humanly possible, begin this type of brain training. Learning becomes a social as well as instructive activity through simple brain games that involve naming items and solving riddles, which raises everyone’s IQ.
Our vocabulary grows as a result of communication, which is crucial for the development of our general intellect. Children with higher IQs are read to by their parents more frequently. However, reading to a youngster in an engaged manner is the key to boosting their IQ, not just reading for pleasure. This means that when you read, you should employ an engaging and varied tone of voice and convey a wide range of pertinent emotion. As you read, keep an eye out for the child’s emotions or signals of interest and follow up with questions to ensure the youngster is understanding. You could pause, for instance, and inquire, “What do you think will happen next?” Additionally, you may ask them to define a word for you if they don’t know its definition or you can give it to them. Reading becomes an enjoyable social activity as a result, and this is where the true IQ boost originates. This is perhaps the simplest and most crucial thing you can do for your child, which is why watching TV and listening to audio books on CDs or computers won’t cut it. It seems that children require their parents! The article “What Reading Does for the Mind” by Cunningham & Stanovich (1998) demonstrates how engaging with tales is particularly beneficial for a child’s intellectual development.
If, however, you were not read to as a youngster, do not worry. Regardless of your age, it’s always a good idea to keep your mind active and engaged. Neuroscientists have long hypothesized that engaging in enjoyable hobbies like Sudoku, crossword puzzles, or other similar games can enhance cognitive function. Your spatial and reasoning skills will be challenged even by reading a map or a flat-pack furniture assembly guide that is poorly written. Try to grasp viewpoints that differ from your own because it’s one of the simplest ways to make your brain work harder. Try to find some sense in arguments that seem absurd to you by keeping an open mind while listening to them.
3. Get plenty of physical exercise
Numerous physical, emotional, and even intellectual issues can be effectively resolved by engaging in physical activity. There are no negative consequences and exercise is free. Your blood flow improves as a result of exercise, which also increases the amount of oxygen and glucose reaching your brain. The brain works hard as it manages the physical activities during exercise since it also requires bodily coordination. By encouraging the production of three crucial “growth factors,” namely brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), insulin-like growth factors (IGF-1), and endothelial growth factor (VEGF), exercise aids in the growth of new brain cells (neurons) and the connections between brain cells (neurogenesis).
Inflammation is reduced, new blood vessels are formed, and cell self-destruction is slowed down by these substances as well. The hippocampus, a region of the midbrain that governs our memory system, has latent stem cells that can be activated by a vigorous workout. There may be real intellectual benefits to exercise in the form of IQ boosts, according to some research.
4. Have a healthy and balanced diet
There are a variety of food components that are excellent for your brain, and there are countless marketing professionals who will try to sell you the extracted component in pill form or as an additive to yoghurt. But the truth is that a variety of food substances can improve our cognitive abilities. The ginkgo tree extract ginkgo biloba has beneficial effects on memory. Green teas and protein in general, as well as vegetables like broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, some berries, and the omega-3 oils found in oily fish (and some grains), appear to enhance memory and overall brain function.
The correlation between a balanced diet and nursing and an improved IQ is becoming more and more obvious. Omega-3 fatty acids, which are crucial for development and are typically absent from infant formula, are given to infants by their mothers when they are breastfed for longer than a few weeks. Kids who are fed a lot of fresh food and grains, including fresh fish from a young age, have higher IQs than children who are fed formula and processed food since the same essential oils are also present in fresh fish.