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Here’s Some Brain Food for Thought October 17 2014


Lean meats are good for your muscles, Milk is good for your bones, Cheerios are ‘good for your heart’, but what food is good for your brain?

We’ve done the research and compiled the most complete list of best brain foods available. Although there is no magic recipe for a perfectly functioning brain, these foods will give you the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy memory and sharp mental focus.

Keep in mind that a balanced diet and moderation is key. You shouldn’t go overboard on any food….even delicious cheerios.

APPLES

A (red) apple a day keeps the brain health-ay. Red apple skins are packed with a compound called quercetin, which acts as a neuroprotector. A recent study showed that quercetin was effective in protecting the hippocampus, which creates long-term memories[1].

For other foods high in quercetin, see BLUEBERRIES, BUCKWHEAT, CILANTRO, CRANBERRIES, RED ONIONS.

[1] http://pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/jf049243r

BLUEBERRIES

Scientists have been experimenting with the incredible effects of blueberries even before Willy Wonka. Countless studies have linked a diet high in blueberries with improved memory, learning, cognitive function, and reduced age-related decline[1][2][3].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24446769
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23723987
[3] http://enews.tufts.edu/stories/101399BlueberriesMayImproveMemory.htm

 

BREWER’S YEAST

If you’ve ever had the thought that healthy food doesn’t taste good…you’re right, when it comes to brewer’s yeast. Apparently, there’s a good reason to eat it (try putting it in your soup, vegetable use, or even sprinkled on popcorn).  Brewer’s Yeast is one of the best food sources of thiamine (vitamin B1) and pyridoxine (vitamin B6), which are critical for brain function. You can also get Brewer’s Yeast B12-fortified, which is also important for brain function.

 

BROCCOLI AND CAULIFLOWER

Broccoli is high in vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function and improve brainpower….AND Unless you want to eat raw beef liver, broccoli and cauliflower are the best sources for getting natural choline. Choline is a critical nutrient for maintaining healthy neurotransmitters, which keep you focused and your memory sharp. In the last few decades, the positive benefits of choline in the brain have been researched extensively. In 1998 the Food and Nutrition Board classified choline as an essential nutrient[1].

For other good sources of choline see CHICKEN AND EGGS

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Choline

 

BUCKWHEAT

Despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free and actually isn’t a wheat…it’s BETTER! 1 cup of buckwheat contains ample amounts of protein, dietary fiber AND 98% of your required magnesium intake. According to some studies, the American adult only gets 66 percent of the recommended requirement of magnesium[1]. It doesn’t help that stress has also been shown to deplete magnesium in the body[2]. Magnesium isn’t an easy mineral to find in a typical diet but it’s extremely important for maintaining healthy brain cell receptors. Magnesium has been shown to relax blood vessels, which increases blood flow. You can throw buckwheat in salads or boil it up as a hot breakfast cereal like cream of wheat.

For other foods high in magnesium, see CHICKPEAS OR GARBANZO BEANS

[1] “Dietary Magnesium and C-reactive Protein Levels,” Journal of the American College of Nutrition, Vol. 24, No. 3, 166-171 (2005).
[2] Dean C. The Magnesium Miracle. New York: Ballantine Books; 2007


CILANTRO

Throw on the garnish! Cilantro is loaded with Quercetin (see APPLES).

 

CELERY

In 2010, the university of Illinois discovered that luteolin, which is found in celery was related to lower rates of age-related memory loss[1]. Researchers discovered it appeared to limit the inflammatory response in the brain, which experts believe is a primary cause of neurodegeneration.

For other foods high in luteolin, see PEPPERS, THYME

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/10/101013122601.htm

 

CHEWING GUM

Need help sticking to a task… chew a slice of your favorite gum. Research done by Cardiff University showed that gum-chewers outperformed non-chewers in intelligence and mood tests[1]. Chewing gum actually improves alertness and your mood!

[1] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bjop.12025/abstract

 

CHICKEN AND EGGS

Whether it’s breakfast for dinner or dinner…for dinner, Chicken and Eggs are a great source of Choline, which can help improve cognitive performance and memory AND Vitamin E, an essential vitamin which prevents cognitive decline (see broccoli)[1].

For other foods high in Vitamin E, see PUMPKIN SEEDS and WHOLEGRAINS

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24381967

 

CHICKPEAS OR GARBANZO BEANS

Like Brewer’s Yeast, chickpeas and garbanzo beans are a GREAT source of natural magnesium. If you’re looking for the ultimate source for magnesium, try kelp. But really, you’re probably not going to put kelp in anything you eat so stick to chickpeas or garbanzo beans.

For more info on Magnesium see BUCKWHEAT

 

CHOCOLATE

It’s a beautiful thing when the foods that taste good are the ones that keep your body running smooth. One recent study on flavonols, which are found in dark chocolate, red wine, green tea and blueberries offer a short-term boost in cognitive skills[1]. Additionally, polyphenols in cocoa may prevent cognitive impairments related to aging[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16794461
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18179729

 

COFFEE

Did you know caffeine makes you energized? Did ya? Did ya? Did you also know that the amount of caffeine in an eight-ounce cup of coffee can improve short-term memory and attention[1][2]? Now ya know!

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21244169
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20816912

 

COMPLEX CARBS

Your brain is hungry! Feed it. Although the brain only makes up 2% of your body weight, it consumes 20% of your energy. Complex Carbs boost alertness by providing the energy your body needs to operate all day long. Whole-wheat, oatmeal, high-fiber cereal and brown rice are great alternatives to eating sugary drinks, starches, or processed foods that leave you with an energy crash.

 

CRANBERRIES

Packed with quercetin, these babies are also a fantastic source of antioxidants (second only to blueberries).

See APPLES for more info on quercetin

 

CURRY

Who said spicy Indian food wasn’t good for you? Curry is loaded with curcumin, which is being comprehensively studied right now for its many cognitive benefits. Some research shows that curcumin is able to boost memory, slow the progression of alzheimer’s, and stimulate the creation of new brain cells. Other studies suggest curcumin may also clear out amyloid plaque, which is the brain muck that is thought to be a cause of Alzheimer’s[1].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2781139/

 

FATTY FOODS

You won’t see fatty foods on many other health lists, but your brain isn’t a skimpy eater. Recent studies suggest that fatty foods improve long-term memory[1]. Apparently, a hormone that is released while digesting fats strengthens your long-term memory maker (the hippocampus). But I’d still take it easy on the ranch dressing.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2683095/?tool=pubmed

 

FISH

Some like it, some hate it, but everyone’s brain loves it! Fish is chock full of essential fatty acids that cannot be made by the body. Omega-3s are an essential fatty acid found readily in salmon, trout, kippers, pilchards, mackerel, herring and sardines. Omega-3s have been widely researched and the benefits of dietary supplementation are obvious. Studies show that Omega-3s improve brain function and also heart function(the American Heart Association recommends regular consumption of Omega-3s)[1][2]. A diet low in Omega-3s has also been linked to a higher risk of Alzheimer’s[3].

For more foods with Omega-3s see WALNUTS

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20434961
[2] http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyDietGoals/Fish-and-Omega-3-Fatty-Acids_UCM_303248_Article.jsp
[3] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16275829

 

FRUITS AND VEGGIES

You’ve probably seen fruits and vegetables on every health list you’ve ever looked at...so it should come as no surprise that it’s on this brain health list. Colorful produce is packed with antioxidants that protect your brain. In a study done in 2008, researchers discovered that people who drank fruit and vegetable juice were significantly less likely to develop Alzheimer’s[1].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2266591/?tool=pubmed

 

GREEN TEA

Caffeine and L-Theanine are two of the most well tested cognitive enhancers on the supplement market. Green Tea contains both of them so it’s no surprise that green tea helps enhance memory, mental alertness and slow the brain’s aging.

 

MILK

Milk...it does a body (and brain) good! Milk is a great source of choline, which helps improve cognitive performance, and Vitamin B12, which is an important brain protector, especially in the elderly[1]. A recent study showed that a glass of milk a day helps people perform better on memory tests[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213264
[2] http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/glass-milk-day-boosts-brain-power-study-dairy-journal-boasts-adults-consumed-dairy-products-scored-higher-memory-tests-article-1.1015243

 

PEPPERS

Red, Green, Raw, Hot, Serrano, Jalapeno…YOU NAME IT! Peppers are loaded with Luteolin.

See CELERY for more info on luteolin.

 

PUMPKIN SEEDS

You don’t need to wait until Halloween for a good excuse to indulge in some pumpkin seeds. A handful of pumpkin seeds is all you need for your daily amount of zinc and Omega-3s, which can improve memory and maintain cognitive functions[1][2].

[1] http://www.naturalnews.com/033722_zinc_memory.html
[2] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3258096/?tool=pubmed

 

RED MEAT

For all the meat lovers out there, this should come as good news. Beef, pork and lamb are top sources of vitamin B12 (also referred to as cobalamin). Vitamin B12 is an energy-booster and critical for brain protection[1]. If you’re a vegetarian, try drinking MILK. If you’re a vegan, try a vitamin B12-fortified BREWER’S YEAST.

See MILK and BREWER’S YEAST for other foods with B12.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23213264

 

RED ONIONS

Onion Rings anyone? The outer rings and the part closest to the root contain high amounts of quercetin[1].

See APPLES for a better description of quercetin.

[1] Smith C, Lombard KA, Peffley EB, Liu W (2003). "Genetic Analysis of Quercetin in Onion (Allium cepa L.) Lady Raider". The Texas Journal of Agriculture and Natural Resource (Agriculture Consortium of Texas) 16: 24–8. Archived from the original on February 25, 2007.

 

SAGE

Is it a coincidence that the word sage refers to an herb and a profoundly wise man? I think not! Sage was recently shown to improve memory in a study that confirms centuries-old theories[1]. Sage isn’t the only spice that boosts cognition, Cumin and cilantro are also powerful memory-boosters[2].

[1] http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2003/09/030901091846.htm
[2] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-douglas-fields/effect-of-spices-on-memory_b_905573.html

 

SUGAR

Everybody knows a bag of skittles is great for your health right? Well...maybe a few skittles is. Researchers found that a drink containing 25g of sugar was able to boost memory and attention[1]. To put this into perspective for you, a 12oz coke can has 39g of sugar...so go easy! Excess sugar has negative health effects.

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22223097

 

THYME

I was going to think of a good pun for this one, but I ran out of thyme… super lame jokes aside, thyme is loaded with luteolin, the magic anti-inflammatory for the brain.

See CELERY for more info on luteolin.

 

WALNUTS

For those of you looking for something a little less ‘fishy’ and little more ‘nutty’, walnuts are a great source of omega-3s and vitamin B6. Although salmon is one of the richest sources of omega 3s, it’s also not a food you’d want to eat daily because of high mercury content. Walnuts are a great afternoon snack and you can easily sprinkle them on salads.

 

WATER

Chug! Chug! Chug! Water makes up 75% of your brain, so if you’re not staying hydrated then your brain is the one taking the punishment. Studies have shown that a 2% dehydration is enough to alter function and performance[1]. This can be particularly devastating for children and the elderly. Researchers also discovered that dehydration distracts us during tasks that require focus[2].

[1] http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24692140
[2] http://journal.frontiersin.org/Journal/10.3389/fnhum.2013 .00363/abstract

 

WHOLE GRAINS

Looking for focus? Look no further. The brain’s ability to focus and concentrate comes from a steady supply of energy, which is relayed through glucose in the blood. Whole grains with a low-GI release glucose slowly which keeps your mind focused all day long. Try brown rice, whole-wheat bread and oatmeal.

 

If you enjoyed that list you’re going to love SmartX. Head on over to our homepage to take a look at the best brain supplement on the market. We’ve got a money-back guarantee...don’t be shy.


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How Does Your Memory Work? September 30 2014


Right this second you’re reading words on a computer screen. 

Three and a half minutes ago maybe you were contemplating the implications of the Dark Matter Theory…or chatting with a friend about your weekend plans….or maybe you were pretending to listen to your co-worker talk about the weather.

Whatever happened three and a half minutes ago, you remember it happened because of a few billion, well-timed neurons firing in your brain. Let’s talk about what those few billion neurons are up to.

Memory is defined as the process in which information is encoded, stored, and retrieved [1]. It is an extremely complex process involving many parts of the brain; the first step is collecting information from our surroundings.

ENCODING

Whether you realize it or not, you are constantly receiving information from your surroundings. When you go for a jog your eyes perceive certain shapes and colors, your feet perceive pressure and touch, and your nose perceives smells like your neighbor’s freshly mowed lawn.

Raw sensory information from the five senses (sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell) is then relayed through electrical impulses to the brain. Information arrives first through the brain stem and then onto the thalamus. The Thalamus acts as a relay station for the rest of the brain’s sensory lobes.

Each bit of information is processed in its respective sensory lobe (Eye sight is sent to the visual cortex, smell to the piriform cortex, etc.). Once the information is processed, it is sent to the prefrontal cortex, which is where the information finally becomes available to our conscious thoughts. This immediately becomes part of our short-term memory, which ranges from several seconds to minutes [2].

STORING

In order for a memory to become a long-term memory, the information must pass from the prefrontal cortex to the hippocampus. The hippocampus is responsible for breaking down the information provided by the prefrontal cortex and sorting it into different categories.

Instead of placing each memory sequentially in order of when they occurred in one part of the brain, memories are stored throughout the brain in several locations. Although scientists don’t know perfectly the process through which information is stored in different parts of the brain, they do know that the brain divides the information to be more efficient.

For example, emotional memories are stored in the amygdala, words are stored in the temporal lobe and colors and visual information is stored in the occipital lobe.

Scientists have found more than 20 different categories of memories stored in different areas of the brain including Plants, colors, numbers, body parts, animals, proper names, nouns, letters, nouns, verbs and facial expressions.

Because everyone thinks differently, we all store memories differently. If a mathematician and a Journalist were to both read this article, chances are that they will store different elements of the information in different parts of their brain.

Through our own personal experiences our brains learn how to file away certain bits of information effectively.

RETRIEVING

After information is sorted throughout the brain, memories can be triggered from any of the senses. The smell of freshly cut grass, or the sounds of the ocean can bring a rush of feelings, words, images, and emotions right back to the forefront of your mind.

Although our brains are incapable of remembering everything, studies show that increased attention and focus during the encoding phase of memory can help you retrieve information.

However, increased attention during the retrieval process does not aid much in the ability to recall certain information.

Many people today are turning to brain exercises, techniques and proper brain nutrition in order to increase their memory. Countless research studies have been conducted within recent years detailing proven methods for improving memory.

Visit our homepage to learn more about studies conducted on the ingredients contained within SmartX.

 

 

[1] "Memory." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 30 Sept. 2014.

[2] Kaku, Michio. The Future of the Mind. the Scientific Quest to Understand, Enhance, and Empower the Mind. New York: Doubleday, a Division of Random House, LLC, 2014. Print.

 

 

 


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10 Tips to Improve Creativity September 24 2014


Remember that oft-used saying about right brained and left brained people? How left brained people are logical, objective, and scientific, and right brained people are artsy, emotional, and creative? If only we could harness our right brain, all of us could be the next Picasso, or Mozart! Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

It would, if it weren’t completely false.

Fortunately, modern neuroscience has evolved past such segmented thinking and has a few things to offer those of us who wish for more creativity:

1. Quit worrying about being smart

In 1921, Lewis M. Terman, the mastermind behind the IQ test, rounded up a sizeable group of young kids with an IQ over 135. These children, decidedly with a genius-level intellect, were followed up with at regular intervals throughout their lives. The surprising result of this study was “intellect and achievement are far from perfectly correlated”. A third of the group failed to graduate from college. In contrast, what researchers have found is that those who do invent and create worthwhile ideas, such as winners of Nobel and Pulitzer Prizes, often come from low to mid-level careers.

2. Just Chill

Your brain is a delicate balance of chemicals which have a powerful impact on your mood, focus, and creativity. Serotonin, which is responsible for the calm, happy you, and dopamine, which controls your energy and alertness, are the main ingredients for maximizing creativity. When you’re stressed, your body releases hormones which counteract these neurotransmitters. This is why people under duress are very unlikely to seek out novel, unfamiliar things. Our natural response is to “play it safe”, which is devastating for our creativity.

3. Get Some Shut-Eye

Not getting enough sleep can curtail our serotonin levels. Most people need at least 2 hours of deep, non-REM sleep, which is less than a third of our night’s rest. Be careful with caffeine though; not only will it interrupt sleep, but it also acts as an emotion enhancer. It can be good for your creative side if you’re feeling motivated and assured; but if you’re feeling anxious or stressed? Not so much.

4. Become a Morning Person

Good news for early risers: serotonin happens to be at its highest in the morning hours. For an extra boost, try including more protein rich foods for breakfast, such as milk, peanut butter, eggs, or greek yogurt. These protein-rich foods add another boost to serotonin levels.

5. Forget about Eureka

We think of ideas as being spontaneous, like finding a forgotten quarter along the path. Truth is, an idea is really nothing more than a new, innovative connection between already existing ideas. It seems new to us because we have been unaware of the mental bridges our minds have been building. So before getting concerned about whether or not you have a Eureka moment, remember that your brain has already done most of the work for you.

6. Think Divergently

One of the greatest obstacles to our creative selves is our tendency to think convergently, or our ability to come up with the one best solution to a well-defined problem. You were taught how to do this whenever you were given multiple-choice quizzes or standardized tests. To break out of this, practice thinking divergently. Try free-writing, where you remove your own mental filter and write out every thought that comes through your head. The more you practice exploring multiple solutions, the more divergent you’ll become.

7. Teach Yourself Something

As Cambridge was closed on account of the Plague in 1665, Isaac Newton spent the summer shut up in his room teaching himself the fundamentals of motion, gravitation, and light. In the same summer he effectively conceived the theory of calculus. While none of us are perhaps quite as gifted as Newton, it seems as though the most creative people are driven by curiosity to learn subjects on their own, rather than be fed information. Often, the modern classroom is viewed as a hindrance to creative learning, and many gifted people are college dropouts for that very reason. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Ted Turner, all inventive geniuses, left school to pursue their creativity.

8. Take an Interest in Different Fields

Becoming a “renaissance man” does more for you than help you at trivia. The most creative people often dabble in a wide variety of subjects; science, math, art, music, etc. As your brain tries to concoct ideas, it draws upon your knowledge base. Put simply, the wider your base, the more diverse (and creative) your ideas will be.

9. Daydream

Most writers and artists will tell you that creativity cannot be forced. A number of studies have found that most moments of enlightenment are preceded by periods of relaxed thought and contemplation. In one study, volunteers were asked to relax and encouraged to think about whatever they wished. A neuroimaging PET scan on their brains revealed increased activity in the association cortices of the brain, which are responsible for generating ideas. Free association and allowing your mind to wander are great ways to unlock your unconscious mind.

10. Put yourself out there

As the saying goes, “When you work at the cutting edge, you’re likely to bleed.” Creativity demands a mental resilience to rejection and skepticism from others. Historically, most breakthroughs were not recognized as such by the leading authorities of the time. The more you place yourself in ambitious situations, the more confident you’ll be in expressing your original thoughts in the public forum.

Terman, Lewis Madison; M. H. Oden (1947). Genetic Studies of Genius ...: The gifted child grows up; twenty-five years' follow-up of a superior group (4 ed.). Stanford University Press. p. 352. "Strategies of Divergent Thinking". University of Washington. Herper, Matthew. "Some Billionaires Choose School Of Hard Knocks." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 29 June 2000. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.v Morgan, Augustus De, and Philip E. B. Jourdain. Essays on the Life and Work of Newton. Chicago: Open Court, 1914. Print. Young, James Webb. A Technique for Producing Ideas. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2003. Print. Andreasen, Nancy C. "Secrets of the Creative Brain." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, 25 June 2014. Web. 06 Sept. 2014.


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Adderall Abuse: The Dark Side of America's Favorite Study Drug September 24 2014


The Dark Side of America's Favorite Study Drug


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10 Tips To Increase IQ September 24 2014


For nearly 100 years, your IQ, or intelligence quotient, has long been a yardstick for human intelligence. Research has shown that having a higher IQ has a positive impact to nearly every aspect of human life; those with higher IQ’s have better GPA’s [1], higher income, less violence, and better health [2]

While genetic factors have a important influence on your IQ, here are 10 things you can do to give your brain a boost:

1. Turn On Some Mozart

Known as “The Mozart Effect”, listening to classical music has been shown to have a noticeable effect on spatial temporal reasoning. In one study, college students who listened to just 10 minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos showed an increase of over 8 points in their IQ [3].

In another study, children who were given 2 hours of musical training each day showed nearly a nearly 14 point increase in a vocabulary test 20 days later. [4] The theory here is that music and language are linked, and that increasing one’s “musical training” will result in better verbal proficiency.

2. Brush Up On Your Spanish

Speaking a second language not only beefs up your resume, but also your mental capacity. Those who are bilingual have been shown to have better mental flexibility, abstract thinking. [5] Balancing two languages requires some effort from the brain, enhancing what is called it’s executive function; or it’s ability to remember information while switching between tasks. Those who are bilingual are already accustomed to bouncing back and forth between languages, so problem solving comes more naturally. [6]

3. Hit the Gym

Not only will it make you look good, it will help you think better. Exercise floods your brain with neurotransmitters such as BDNF, which is an important ingredient for neurogenesis and long-term memory [7]. Some studies conclude that exercise can increase your logical thinking and verbal intelligence by up to 50%[8]. Before you get too crazy with weights, however, remember that the real catalyst here is your heart rate.

4. Think about Thinking

This strategy, called metacognition, literally means “knowing beyond”. Our unique anatomy and enormous frontal lobe allow us to consider our own thinking processes, and, when appropriate, refine them. When we learn to regulate our own learning, we suppress extraneous information and focus more on the task at hand [9]. When confronted with a problem, ask yourself, “How have I dealt with problems like this one before? How did it turn out? Is there anything I could do to solve this problem better?” In time, your familiarity with your own mind will help you enhance it.

5. Eat More Fish

Cold-water fish are packed with an omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, essentially the building blocks for your neurons. High levels of DHA have been shown to improve cognition as well as prevent neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s [10]. The American Heart Association recommends getting 2 servings of fish per week. Also high in omega-3 are beans, walnuts, and flaxseed.

6. Stretch Your Brain

If you think of your brain as an infinitesimally intricate highway system of interconnected neurons, it makes sense that the roads that get used often will get expanded and the roads that don’t will be demolished. So it is with your brain; the activities you do will strengthen or weaken certain neural pathways. This concept is called neuroplasticity, meaning that the more varied and challenging tasks you perform, the more diverse and strong the mental links will be.

So get ready to work out your brain! Puzzle and logic games are a great way to increase brain plasticity. The key is to break out of routine; to enrich your environment. Explore a new place, drive a different route to work, pick up a new hobby; find new and interesting ways to surprise your brain. [11]

7. Curl Up With A Good Book

No, it doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. Turns out that sitting down with a novel will do more for you than just create a well-read individual. In a recent study, researchers scanned the brain as participants were reading a fictional thriller. The MRI showed increased activity not only in the section of the brain associated with language comprehension, but also motor and sensory movement. In short, as readers became engrossed in the book, their brains behaved as though they were acting out the story. This interactivity increases connections within different sections of the brain, improving cognition. [12]

8. Button Mash

Call of Duty, anyone? For those who don’t like to read, there ‘s still hope: video games may enhance brain function. Video games occupy the attention the frontal lobe, which controls higher thought, such as processing information and making decisions. The stimuli from video games engage this kind of thinking, effectively “working out” the frontal lobe. [13]

Effects of video games on productivity may not be so encouraging.

9. Meditate

It’s not just for monks anymore. In a 2010 study, volunteers with memory loss problems were subjected to an 8 week meditation course. The results showed a statistically significant increase in verbal fluency, mental flexibility, and memory. [14] Even those who are not familiar with the practice can benefit from meditative exercise, without much training. Simple practices, such as focusing on your breathing, can have measurable cognitive benefits. [15]

10. Stop Eating…At Least For A Bit

This activity, called intermittent fasting, may have a surprising effect on intelligence. Like exercise, going without food for period of time increases stress factors on the brain. The brain reacts by releasing BDNF, which triggers the growth of new neurons. Not only does this improve memory, it also helps prevent the mental decline associated with aging.

[16] [1]Kamphaus, Randy W. (2005). Clinical assessment of child and adolescent intelligence. Springer. [2]McDaniel, M (2006). "Estimating state IQ: Measurement challenges and preliminary correlates". Intelligence 34 (6): 607–19. [3] Rauscher, Frances H.; Shaw, Gorden L. (1995). "Listening to Mozart enhances spatial-temporal reasoning: towards a neurophysiological basis". Neuroscience Letters 185: 44–47 [4] Moreno S., Bialystok E., Barac R., Schellenberg E. G., Cepeda N. J., Chau T. (2011). Short-term music training enhances verbal intelligence and executive function. Psychol. Sci. 22, 1425–1433 [5] Leopold W. F. (1953). "Patterning in children's language learning". Language Learning 5 (1-2): 1–13 [6] Bialystok E, Martin MM (2004). "Attention and inhibition in bilingual children: evidence from the dimensional change card sort task". Dev Sci 7 (3): 325–39 [7] Bekinschtein P, Cammarota M, Katche C, Slipczuk L, Rossato JI, Goldin A, Izquierdo I, Medina JH (February 2008). "BDNF is essential to promote persistence of long-term memory storage". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 105 (7): 2711–6. [8] Aberg et al. Cardiovascular fitness is associated with cognition in young adulthood. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2009 [9] Kieran, C. R. Fox; Kalina Christoff (2014). "Metacognitive Facilitation of Spontaneous Thought Processes: When Metacognition Helps the Wandering Mind Find Its Way". The Cognitive Neuroscience of Metacognition: 293–319. [10] Arsenault, Dany,, Carl Julien et al. (2011). "DHA Improves Cognition and Prevents Dysfunction of Entorhinal Cortex Neurons in 3xTg-AD Mice". PLoS One. [11] VIOLA, Luciane F. et al. Effects of a multidisciplinar cognitive rehabilitation program for patients with mild Alzheimer's disease. Clinics [online]. 2011, vol.66, n.8 [cited  2014-09-02], pp. 1395-1400 . [12] Berns Gregory S., Blaine Kristina, Prietula Michael J., and Pye Brandon E.. Brain Connectivity. 2013, 3(6): 590-600. [13] Kühn S, Lorenz R, Banaschewski T, Barker GJ, Büchel C, et al. (2014) Positive Association of Video Game Playing with Left Frontal Cortical Thickness in Adolescents. PLoS ONE 9(3): e91506. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0091506 [14] Khalsa DS, Newberg A. Kirtan Kriya meditation: a promising technique for enhancing cognition in memory-impaired older adults. In: Hartman-Stein PE, Rue AL, editors. editors. Enhancing Cognitive Fitness in Adults: A Guide to the Use and Development of Community-Based Programs. New York: Springer; (2011). p. 419–31 [15] Zeidan et al. Mindfulness meditation improves cognition: Evidence of brief mental training. Consciousness and Cognition, 2010; [16] Li L, Wang Z, Zuo Z (2013) Chronic Intermittent Fasting Improves Cognitive Functions and Brain Structures in Mice. PLoS ONE 8(6): e66069. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066069


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30 Crazy Brain Facts September 24 2014


30 Facts You Need To Know About Your Noggin.


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4 Basic Test-Taking Tips June 14 2014


A simple school exam has the uncanny ability to either destroy or boost one’s self-confidence. There is nothing quite like the feeling of acing a test, yet there exists nothing so painful and harsh as finding out your failing score for the biggest test you have ever studied for. However, there is hope for those who never seem to achieve that satisfying score. Most often the biggest factor affecting test scores involves poor test preparation. For this reason the best test-taking tips generally involve what to do before and during the test. We have described below the best test-taking tips that will guarantee a desirable score on your next test.

1. Prepare Mentally Now or Forever Hold Your Terrible Score

Test Bubble Sheet The best tool a teacher can give students is the actual date of future exams. The more time you have to prepare the better off you are. Most often test dates are immediately erased from memory to avoid any extra stress on an already stressful schedule. Avoiding any test preparation until the week before the exam is extremely ineffective and will only worsen your score. Testing anxiety can be your biggest obstacle and can severely affect your memory. Mental preparation and acceptance of future tests is the key to decreasing stress before an exam. Think positively about your future tests and you will feel an increase in confidence that will help you retain the needed material for the test.

2. Daily Review - 5 Min A Day Keeps The Failing Grades Away

Flash Cards for Studying Early test preparation can often seem very intimidating as it may appear that leisure time will be sacrificed for study time. However, it is often misunderstood that a little effort each day will go a long way. College students spend an average per day of 1 hour and 45 minutes on Facebook alone. Sacrificing 5 minutes of social media for class material to review and memorize the important concepts of the day will solidify the information in your mind. Or if social media is “needed”, try sacrificing 5 minutes of app time a day to exchange your Flappy Bird high score for a classroom high score on your next test. Review time can even be taken between classes before your next class begins or as a quick review before you go to bed. Scheduling your review time is the key to actually fulfilling it.

3. Test-taking Stress - Don’t Worry, Be Happy

A on a Test If you have committed yourself to completing the first two preparation tips previously mentioned, exam day should be a breeze. However, feeling a little stress on exam day can be completely normal. The key to passing the test is never allowing your anxiety to get the best of you during the test. If you feel your mind is racing, don’t force yourself to continue answering questions as most likely they will be marked wrong. Don’t hesitate to take a 30-60 second break and take a deep breath, forgetting all your surroundings. Calm your mind then get back to the grind. As a general tip for managing test anxiety, try taking a deep breath every 7 questions to calm yourself and relax your mind. If you don’t know the answer to a question don’t let that affect your composition for the rest of the test; try to relax and come back to the question later.  

4. You Finished the Test! Not Quite….

Taking a Test It can be a rewarding feeling as you fill in the last answer on your test. Turning in your test and fleeing the scene is usually the next course of action for a student. However, carefully reviewing and pondering each question on your test again is a tried-and-true strategy. Quite often your brain actually has answers to questions, but due to stress and other factors cannot remember them at that specific moment. Completed questions can often trigger memories of previous questions revealing unknown answers. Taking the time to carefully review each question again can be taxing, but often very rewarding. Mistakes can be corrected and a significant amount of points can be made up. Students who give extra effort to earn a higher score generally are the ones who receive the most satisfying grades.

These are a few of the many test-taking strategies that exist; however, these 4 basic tips are generally noted as being the most effective. Relaxing the mind and increasing focus is a key factor in affecting test scores. That’s why Cerebral Success created the SmartX Supplement to help further aid your quest for the perfect score. Check out what people are saying about Cerebral Success and never forget that a little effort and concentration can be a world of difference on your next test.


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How Social Media Affects The Brain June 02 2014


Technology has never been more prevalent than it is today. Social Media alone has enabled the world to become connected to one another. Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter provide a way for us to become connected with long distance family members, old friends, strangers, even celebrities. It is nearly impossible to not be reached by someone anywhere in the world. For example, how many times have you seen someone post that their phone is broken and to message them online if they need to be reached? Or how about stories of people suffering from cancer or some other life-threatening disease who reach out to celebrities via Twitter. It brings a smile to your face when you read of a celebrity who responds and goes out of their way to support a fan who is suffering. These are just a couple of the many positive uses for social media. However, there are some growing problems that are associated with too much time spent online.

 

There have been recent neurological studies performed on what happens to the brain while engaged with social media activity. Generally speaking, the brain would react positively whenever the user experienced receiving a “like,” “shoutout,” or “mention.” This is understandable. There are few people who do not enjoy or appreciate genuine displays of approval or acclaim, even if it is something as simple as “liking” a picture. When does this become dangerous? Well, when we decide to actively spend more time on social media in search for recognition or when we replace online interaction with physical interaction. Addiction is typically associated with drugs, alcohol, or pornography. But there are other forms of addiction, and an addiction to social media (or online activity in general) is a very real thing. Sure, an addiction to Facebook isn’t likely to kill you as opposed to an addiction to heroin, but it can lead to other unhealthy habits and behaviors.


Some people have even gone on “diets” from social media. Most have found the experience rewarding. For example, more time is dedicated to personal interaction with friends and family. Parents find themselves becoming more engaging with their children as opposed to every person in the household disconnecting from each other and connecting to their phone or tablet. A general rule of thumb to keep in mind is to use moderation in all things. There are many great benefits from technology and social media, but it is important to create actual social behaviors with real people. Those are the relationships that will build your character and have a lasting impact. It is safe to assume that most, if not all, “likes” will be forgotten by the following week, let alone ten years from now.

 

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How To Improve Memory March 26 2014


We all experience it: the inability to recall specific information or memories. Often times, memory loss carries the connotation that it is something that only senior citizens experience. While mental health is known to decrease as we get older, there is plenty of truth behind the fact that we all experience memory loss, regardless of age. Memory loss can occur at the most inopportune moments: on the morning of a major exam, during a business presentation, or simply just trying to recall a funny story.

Our brain is equivalent to one giant library. Countless amounts of data, information, dates, numbers, names, addresses, stories, facts, schedules, appointments, events, and so much more are constantly being filed and catalogued within our brain. As is the case with any library, the library in our brain needs an amazing librarian, which scientists refer to as the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a major player within the brains of humans and other mammals. One of its primary functions is to filter our thoughts and information into either short-term or long-term memory. The hippocampus is one of the first regions of the brain to be attacked when an individual suffers from Alzheimer’s Disease, thus the individual suffers from substantial memory loss. Even still, the hippocampus is not the only part responsible for memory storage. Different types of memories are stored in different parts of the brain; it’s an incredibly complex system. Consequently, we must take care of our bodies, which includes taking care of our brains. The following is a list of ways you can take care of your brain, and also improve your brain’s ability to perform more efficiently when it comes to memory recall:

1. Avoid Heavy Alcohol Consumption

Though there is scientific research to support the negative effects alcohol has on the brain, it doesn’t take a scientist to see or experience these negative effects. Just one night of heavy drinking can leave you waking up the next morning in a stupor of thought without the ability to remember the events of the previous night. If only one night of heavy drinking can erase portions of your short-term memory, it is not difficult to accept the fact that alcohol abuse can lead to the destruction of numerous brain cells, many of which directly affect memory loss.

2. Exercise

Have you ever had a strong workout or physical activity that left you tired, yet reinvigorated? Exercise has many positive effects on the body, but it also greatly improves the mind. A lack of exercise can lead to a number of health problems that can decrease the brain’s ability to perform admirably. Even just a walk around the block can liberate the mind, especially if you’re taking a break from an intense study session. The brain needs a strong blood flow in order to stay healthy, so the key is to get up and move around to keep that blood flowing.

3. Word Association

Many people have learned this trick, and sometimes get criticized for it. This method is particularly effective when studying for an exam, but it can be used for daily activities as well. If you see a word, then you immediately find something else to associate with that word. This process makes it far easier to remember the word when you already have a distinct image or other association attached to it.

4. Pay Attention

This is a simple solution, but one that often is not utilized as it should be. Have you ever temporarily placed your keys somewhere in your house only to forget where you put them just minutes later? The diagnosis is simple, you weren’t paying attention. Even writing one-word reminder notes can be useless if you did not attempt to commit the task to memory in the first place by focusing. Listen, focus, and pay attention. Whether in school, at work, or simply listening to your significant other’s story...pay attention. Your memory will be better off.

5. Avoid Stress

Stress is a killer in many ways. It can lead to a number of health issues, including depression. One of the main symptoms of depression is a lack of concentration. When you suffer from depression, you may feel like you have become absent minded when the truth is that you may not be concentrating enough to even retain any new information. Depression also affects the types of memories you can store. Typically, a depressed person will only retain negative memories and discard positive ones. Getting the proper treatment for depression will not only help you be the happy person you deserve to be, but it will also help increase your brain’s ability to concentrate more and not filter out all the good memories.

Some of these ideas seem too simple, but that’s the point. It’s easy to disregard this list as juvenile, but the real challenge is making a habit of these suggestions. Applying these methods, combined with the proper vitamins and amino acids provided by the brain supplements from Cerebral Success, will greatly increase your brain’s ability to perform at an increased level which will help retain more memories.


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A Healthy Alternative to Adderall March 10 2014


According to Dr. Carver Nebbe, a family medicine doctor at Thielen Student Health Center in Iowa, the number of students looking to score an Adderall prescription is on the rise. “There has been a huge increase in demand for evaluations for ADHD over the last several years.” It would be a problem if the number of students living with ADHD was following such a steep trajectory upwards. It’s even more of a problem when you realize that most of these students are going to misuse their prescription. According to Dr. Nebbe, “statistics say that 30 to 40 percent of those who have [an Adderall prescription] misuse it or divert the medication at some time. Nebbe’s beliefs are backed up by the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health - the study found that 11.4 percent of young people ages 12 to 25 used prescription drugs non-medically within the past year. For college students between the ages of 18 and 22, Adderall abuse was double that of the comparable age group not enrolled in college.

This is a frightening prospect, but it’s likely more serious than first glance suggests. Due to its “extremely high risk of addiction and overdose,” The US Department of Justice has labeled Adderall as a Schedule II Controlled Substance. This means illegal possession (re: without a prescription) will lead to the same criminal charges as the possession of opiates, methamphetamine, methylphenidate, and other amphetamines, because Adderall is literally made of amphetamine salts. Once ingested, the pills release dopamine, serotonin, and adrenaline, in order to create a euphoric, focused effect. The effects are immediate and profound, but potentially disastrous. The pill increases focus and drive but, in many cases, it also increases dependency and reliance.

Adderall has also been shown to be a gateway drug for its impressionable demographic. Ninety percent of those using Adderall non-medically were reported binge drinkers while more than fifty percent are considered heavy drinkers. Additionally, this group is three times more likely to have abused marijuana and five times more likely to have abused painkillers.

And what’s the benefit? Not only are there harmful side effects for your cardiovascular and nervous systems, but an article in Time Magazine suggests that the perceived benefits are actually a lie. Casey Schwartz reported the initial findings for The Daily Beast. “In a recent study at Dr. Martha Farah’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania, researchers have added a new layer to the ‘smart pill’ coneration. Adderall, they’ve found, makes you think you’re doing better than you actually are.”

The research team tested 47 subjects, all in their twenties, all without a diagnosis of ADHD, on a variety of cognitive functions, from working memory — how much information they could keep in mind and manipulate — to raw intelligence, to memories for specific events and faces. Each subject was tested both while on Adderall and on a placebo; in each condition, the subjects didn’t know which kind of pill they were receiving.
The researchers did come up with one significant finding. The last question they asked their subjects was: “How and how much did the pill influence your performance on today’s tests?” Those subjects who had been given Adderall were significantly more likely to report that the pill had caused them to do a better job on the tasks they’d been given, even though their performance did not show an improvement over that of those who had taken the placebo. (The Daily Beast)

Thankfully, turning your back on Adderall and other “smart drugs” doesn’t mean you have to abandon your cognitive boost. All of the hassle and danger that comes with adderall can be avoided with the all natural Cerebral Success formula*. The only similarity is the success you’ll continue to enjoy.

Instead of flooding your system with short lived, addictive levels of dopamine and serotonin, Cerebral Success focuses on establishing long term improvement for your brain. Our formula strengthens brain cell walls, increases blood flow, oxygenation, and protein synthesis within the brain. Ultimately, we make sure that your brain is taken care of, that it’s firing on all cylinders. This isn’t a harmful amphetamine, it’s a key step in transforming your brain into a force to be reckoned with. You won’t be reduced to a jittery, nervous mess. You’ll enjoy increased focus and concentration, enhanced memory and recall, and an increased feeling of happiness and well being. What’s better than that?

*Cerebral Success not intended to treat, cure or prevent any disease. Do not substitute prescribed medication for Cerebral Success. Cerebral Success is only intended as an alternative to those taking Adderall (and other prescription medication) WITHOUT a prescription. Consult a physician before use.


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Statements contained herein have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.