10 Tips To Increase IQ September 24 2014, 0 Comments

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.

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