The human brain is an amazingly complex organ. It tirelessly controls every single part of our entire body for every single second of our lives. From the obvious things that we consciously perceive, see, hear, taste, touch, and smell to the smallest unconscious workings of the thyroid gland, the brain controls all of the functions needed to keep us alive and well.
Today many people are looking for ways to enhance their bodies and the brain is on the list of parts that they’d like to improve. It makes sense that if you want to have a fit and well functioning body that having a razor-sharp brain is on the priorities list.
The fact is, however, that most people have never heard of ‘exercises’ that you can do for the brain, and intelligence is often thought of as static. This begs the question; are there exercises that you can do to maintain or even enhance mental performance? In basic terms, is there a way to increase brainpower?
Simply put, yes, there definitely are several great ways that a person can exercise their brain and enhance their mental ability. As with anything in the body, the very basic principle of ‘use it or lose it’ applies here. A rolling stone gathers no moss.
This means, in layman’s terms, that as with you have if you don’t use it that part will atrophy and grow weaker with time. The brain is the ultimate example of this. If you use it, exercise it, and keep it functioning at a high level it will grow stronger.
The dual-task n-back is a mental stimulation exercise that was developed in 2003 by Susanne Jaeggi and her associates. With this interesting mental exercise, a person is given 2 different kinds of stimuli, a picture and sound have to remember them in sequence. When a duplicate is brought up of the sound or number you’ve previously heard, you input this was a duplicate.
This working memory exercise is challenging to say the least, but the benefits are far-reaching. The concentration required exercises our brain and given a few weeks, N back scores climb.
There are indeed many other effective ways to exercise the brain. New stimulus and avoidance of routine keep the mind challenged and continually developing. Learning a new language or learning to play a musical instrument are some great examples. If you use the brain it will stay healthy and get stronger, it’s as simple as that.
Another way to enhance memory and brain function is through the use of nootropic supplements. Nootropics also referred to as memory, cognitive, or intelligence enhancers, are basically any drug, food, supplement, or neutraceutical that can improve mental function. The term nootropics were first coined by Dr. Corneliu Gigea of Romania in the 1960s. It comes from the Greek words that mean ‘mind’ and ‘to bend or turn’.
Nootropics work, by supporting brain function on a number of levels. Some increase blood, oxygen, and glucose delivery to brain tissue, others work by altering neurotransmitters which influence thought processes and memory storage. Nootropics are a growing field and may offer true cognitive enhancement in a “smart pill” form. The cognitive benefits so far are noticeable but moderate, they certainly don’t turn a Forest Gump into an Einstein (YET) Think 1/10th of limitless.
Good Old Fashioned Concentration
Concentration is defined as the ability to direct ones thinking in whatever direction one would intend. In today’s world, there are so many things happening at once that many of us don’t or can’t concentrate on one task for more than a few minutes at a time. Our mind wanders onto more pleasurable activities such as wasting time on Facebook, messaging on our cell phone every few minutes, and constantly checking our emails. This avoidance of boredom at all costs is negative and unproductive.
A person that can concentrate and focus on one task at a time reaps a greater reward than one who endlessly multi-tasks. A computer can multi-task, no doubt, but the best way to develop your mental prowess is to learn to concentrate on one task and, when it’s done, move on to the next.
Unfortunately, this method is uncomfortable and requires hard work and discipline. It’s a hard concept to “sell” to people who want the quick fix. Whenever I begin to feel my mind wander and I deviate from my workload I remember Edison’s wise words:
“There is no substitute for hard work.”