Not until recently had people started gathering significant scientific data about the possibilities of human cognitive improvement. “Improving Fluid Intelligence with Training on Working Memory”, an important study published in 2008, showed these possibilities for the first time.
The subjects of this study were trained on an intensive task that included multimodal (auditory and visual input) working memory task for variable lengths of time, for 1 or 2 weeks. After training, the subjects were tested and the task scores were better. Then, they wanted to see whether those gains could transfer to an increase in skill on a totally different cognitive ability test. And their experiment proved them right, because the test showed an improvement on an unrelated cognitive task.
What can we do to improve our own cognitive potential and protect ourselves against cognitive decline in years to come? These 3 principles can serve you as fundamental guidelines.
#1 Avoid Doing Things the Easy Way
We usually try to make everything more efficient, so we could do more stuff in a shorter amount of time, using the least of your mental and physical energy possible. If you’re trying to increase your intelligence, then efficiency is not your friend because all this won’t do your brain any favors. Just as with muscles, the brain needs exercise.
For example, driving is convenient, saves time, and takes less physical energy. However, if you drove yourself everywhere, your muscles would weaken and you would gain weight, because you aren’t expending any energy and are passive. On the other hand, you neurons can also “atrophy” if you stop using your cognitive, logical, spatial, and problem-solving skills. You won’t get a sense of space if you always use your GPS to track an unknown location down. You won’t build your multilingual skills if you constantly use translation software.
Let’s not lie, we need technology today for various reasons. But we don’t need it always. Instead of taking shortcuts all the time, just shut everything off and take the longer path by using your brain. You can improve your memory and increase your mental agility with approved supplements with selected nutraceutical compounds such as Lucid smart pill.
#2 Engage in Novelty
An ingenious mind always learns a new domain by seeking out novel activities. Openness to new experiences correlates with our IQ, and it is related to seeking new things to learn, new activities to engage in, and new information. Several things happen when you seek for new things –new synaptic connections are created, and they build on one another creating more and more connections. Novelty triggers the release of dopamine (which increases motivation and stimulates the creation of new neurons) and puts your cerebrum in a primed state for learning. What can you do to feed your brain’s hunger? Become a knowledge junkie. Visit museums. Take an art class. Learn how to play an instrument. Expand your cognitive horizons.
In face-to-face interactions or through social media platforms, we expose ourselves to situations that make challenging ourselves, finding novelties, and thinking creatively much easier to achieve. By exposing to new environments, ideas and people, we are opening ourselves to new cognitive growth opportunities. Communicating with people who are outside of our immediate field can offer insight in ways we have never thought before. By frequent socializing, we expose ourselves to new information and absorb it in unique in meaningful ways. It would be almost impossible to work on increasing your cognitive potential without making social interaction a primary component.
Other things such as regular physical activity, getting enough sleep, engaging in brain-training games, and keeping chronic stress on the low also contributes to our brains’ state of fitness. In order to keep your brain active, you shouldn’t worry about being inefficient, but move on to another challenging activity as soon as you master the one you are engaging in. Comfort zone is your enemy.