The brain is the most extraordinary organ gifted to man. But it is not to be taken for granted. Simulation and exercise are its only fodder, for keeping it up and running. Besides improving brain function, it also protects against cognitive decline. Research tells us that just using the brain, veritably increases the number of dendritic branches that connect brain cells.
Why is it so important to exercise our brains?
In laymen language, without exercise, the brain is prone to getting atrophied or destroyed. The benefits are both short-term (improved concentration and memory, sustained mental clarity, coherent thinking and co-ordination), and long-term (creation of a "brain reserve" that guards against Alzheimer's).
How exercise trains the brain?
Christin Anderson, MS, fitness coordinator of the University of San Francisco, explains that exercise affects many sites within the nervous system and sets off pleasure chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine that make us feel calm, happy, and euphoric.
Listed below are some ways in which you can train your brain, ensure sound operation and persistently improve its performance:
Engage your brain with unfamiliar tasks:
It is important to challenge your brain to learn novel tasks, especially ones you have not experimented before.Examples include:
- Preparing a new dish, learn a software application, shop at a different grocery store, play a new computer game.
- Switch the hand you normally use to control the computer mouse, television remote, to brush your teeth, or dial the phone.
You will notice that you are quite uncomfortable and awkward at handling it at the initial stage. But don't worry you are teaching your brain to be flexible and equipping it to handle new chores.
Travel Stimulates Your Brain
Travel is a great way to stimulate your brain. It worked for our ancestors, whose nomadic lifestyle provided tremendous opportunity for visiting new places, learning new things and discovering unknown facts.
Neurobics is a unique assortment of brain exercises employing your five physical senses and your emotional sense in unexpected ways, encouraging you to stir up your everyday routines. They help your brain manufacture its own nutrients that strengthen, preserve, and grow brain cells.
Try using more than one of your senses in an everyday task.
Egs. Read while you are eating, write while listening to a lecture.
Did you know that physical exercise is also good for your brain? It is important because it influences the rate of creation of new neurons in our brains. Brisk walking for an hour or running, are excellent brain stimulators.
"Read, read, read," says Dr. Amir Soas of Case Western Reserve University Medical School in Cleveland. Don't just limit your reading to magazines and newspapers. Try reading two kinds of books at the same time. Alternate, fiction with non fiction. They will not only help enrich your vocabulary but will also call out to both your creative and your practical sides.
Strengthen your memory
Try to memorize the phone numbers you use most often.
Try to recollect and recapitulate facts and information you have gathered in a day. This will help you recall it later when need arises.
Try to recollect the headlines of the morning daily you read.
There are plenty of programs out there that will help with your memory. "Brain Age" or "Big Brain Academy" for the Nintendo DS are recommended and fun. These games were specifically made for improving your memory.
This is a versatile thing. Never divorce yourself with learning. Try learning one or two facts daily, make it a habit. Before going to bed, ask yourself, what you learnt for the day. Help your children, grandchildren, neighbors, friends with their subjects, project etc.
Most newspapers supply fresh sudoku or crosswords everyday. Try your hand at brainteasers, riddles and different types of puzzles sold in books. You can even avail of a good supply on the internet. Try solving these. These hone your problem solving skills. Play scrabble and storm over the Rubik's cube for 15 mins daily.
Exercise your structuralizing ability
Pick a sentence from a magazine or newspaper and try to make another sentence using the same words.
Practice fixing the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle together as quickly as possible. Improve upon the time you take to solve it.
Exercise your logic abilities
Logic is the art of reasoning--finding an orderly sequence for disparate elements. Don't use a written list while shopping. Instead, use memory aids, such as forming a complete word, or one that can be completed by adding a certain vowel or consonant from the first letters of the words for the things you need to buy. Or, use anything that works for you.
Move your fingers to improve your brain
Motor activities that use your fingertips, like crocheting, knitting, playing the piano etc. are reported to stimulate the brain. A map of the brain shows that the nerve endings on your fingertips correspond to more areas of the brain than any other body area, except perhaps the tongue and lips.
Sing to solve problems
When you are alone in your car, try singing about something you are working on. This stimulates your right brain. It is easier to rhyme when you sing than when you just speak or write. This is because the right brain is better at pattern recognition.
Let the music play
Use the Mozart Effect - classical music increases brain activity more positively than other kinds of music. Two pieces of Mozart's music; Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K. 448) and Piano Concerto No. 23 (K. 488), were found to have this effect.
Stimulate brain acuity with self-massage
Acupressure points on your neck, at the base of the skull, helps improve concentration and memory.
Increase the intake of foods containing omega fatty acids (known to boost intellectual stamina) such as flax and hemp seeds, and fish.
The million-dollar question: Can IQ be improved? Scientifically speaking, yes!
Just a few years back, the IQ of a human being was considered as something that is genetic and cannot be improved upon. However, various researches by eminent scientists and neuropsychologists have proven this myth wrong.
IQ and Brain
Do you know which is the seat of intelligence in the human brain? Is IQ related to brain size or gray matter content? Which part of the brain is precisely related to IQ? What is the 'brainy secret' of people boasting of a high IQ?