Get Smart: How to Boost your IQ by 10 points
“It is not enough to have a good mind; the main thing is to use it well.”
- Rene Descartes
A person’s IQ was thought to be a fixed commodity largely determined by genetics. But is your IQ really set in stone or can you cheat a few extra points? Recent hints suggest that a very basic brain function called working memory might underlie our general intelligence, opening up the intriguing possibility that if you improve your working memory, you could boost your IQ too.
Genetics determines a lot and so does the early gestation period. On top of that, there is a few percent that can be improved by training. So if what you want is results, and not an argument about the definition of intelligence, try some of the following tips and boost your brain power.
1. Game on
Turn on your PC. Modern games are great for making your mind work at amazing speeds. It gives your brain a chance to think strategically, and keeps it working.
2. Spin it
If you want to be a da Vinci or Edison, keep a sketch diary. Imagine seeing an object from every angle and sketch the views afterwards. Thinking in pictures is essential for complex reasoning.
3. Buy the paper
While browsing through the sports pages, take a peek at the crossword. It’s a perfect exercise for sharpening your mind. Puzzles with creative solutions exercise and extend your dendrites — the branch-like parts of nerve cells that carry information and promote processing.
4. Have a sniff
Certain fragrances help you think clearly and cut down on mistakes. Lemon scents stimulate your hippocampus, the brain region that controls your ability to concentrate; lavender helps you relax and think more clearly; jasmine has the ability to excite, resulting in quicker thinking.
5. Turn on
A recent study in the UK found that watching The Weakest Link for 30 minutes can raise your IQ by six points. A documentary produced a four-point rise; Friends a rise of one point.
6. Deep Breath
This is one of the easiest and most effective tip to improve the functioning of your brain immediately. More air in means more oxygen in the blood and therefore in the brain. Low oxygen levels in the blood have been shown to decrease it. Since most of us are in the habit of breathing too shallowly, this is a quick way to boost your IQ. One hint: if you breath through your nose, you are more likely to breath deeply.
Letting your brain run free is the best way of truly expanding your brain power. Every day, consciously defocus for 10 minutes, and see where it takes you.
To make sure you’re thinking clearly, avoid caffeine — just one cup can cause a sharp rise in feelings of anxiety, US scientists have found. And like smoking, caffeine also prevents the absorption of key vitamins essential for optimum brain function. Replace coffee or tea with water and if you smoke, don’t.
Performing two tasks simultaneously provides you with invaluable brain tools. Put a TV next to a radio and try to take in information from both, then try to concentrate on each individually. You’ll find you can focus on any single problem much better.
10. Sit up straight, and close your mouth
Good posture affects our state of mind, and helps us to think more clearly. Wanna prove it to yourself? Try solving some math in your head while slouching, looking at the floor and letting your mouth hang open. Then do the mental math while sitting up straight, keeping your mouth closed and looking forward or slightly upwards. You’ll get the point.
11. Stretch yourself
Think of two unconnected objects… a frog and a moped, say… and try to think of as many links between them as you can. This breaks down the critical ability that interferes with the flow of ideas.
12. And… relax
Simply relaxing increases your ability to learn. In tests, systematically flexing every muscle for 30 minutes boosted subjects’ ability to solve puzzles by up to 25 percent.
13. Spell it out
Facing a problem? Write it down and draw lines radiating out to words and ideas linked to each one. Your mind will be able to visualize an answer far more easily.
14. Make connections
To grow longer dendrites, do something new. Try learning a new language or developing a skill such as drawing, and you’ll see instant changes in how you think.
15. Step it up
Aerobic fitness helps fluid intelligence (learning new things), frontal lobes (planning ahead) and your ability to make rapid-fire decisions. Go for at least three 30-minute cardio sessions a week.
16. Get dreaming
You knew this one, right? Uninterrupted sleep is key to information-processing. Avoid caffeine six hours before bed and relax with a hot bath and a milky drink (packed with sleep-inducing tryptophans).
17. Take a stroll
A recent study found that just 45 minutes of walking three times a week increased subjects’ ability to perform multiple tasks by up to 15 percent, improving bloodflow to the frontal lobes of the brain.
18. Watch the clock
Use your brain when it’s at its sharpest — early in the morning. Research shows that taking tests before midday boosts success rates by up to five percent.
19. Consume ginkgo biloba
Whether in capsules or tea or off a neighbors tree, ginkgo leaves have been shown to increase blood flow to the brain, helping memory and concentration. The effect is quick, and doesn’t seem to diminish with regular use.
To give your brain a steady supply of energy and minerals, eat little and often. Eating large meals shunts blood to your digestive tract, away from your brain.
21. Go classical
In a US study, listening to a Mozart piano sonata improved students’ 3-D problem solving abilities (as opposed to verbal or language skills) by 15 percent. Aim for 10 minutes of Classic FM a day.
IQ tests are just one form of measuring intelligence, so if you’re really trying to impress, the answer is simply to practice again and again and again.
23. Eat your meat
A meal that’s overloaded with carbohydrates can spell trouble for the brain. In a Harvard study, people who ate pure carbohydrates had up to twice the difficulty concentrating and performing mental tasks as those who’d eaten turkey, which is practically carb-free. This is due to the insulin that is dumped into your veins after the sugar is. Don’t eat white flour, sugar, potatoes, and other carbs before an important meeting.
24. Freshen up
Chewing gum improves memory and thinking, UK researchers have found. Chewing raises your heart rate, delivering more oxygen and glucose to the brain, while saliva triggers a surge of insulin, stimulating learning and memory receptors in the brain.
25. Make friends
Preferably ones with large amounts of frizzy grey hair. Recent research showed that hanging out with boffins can boost your IQ by up to 10 percent.
26. Go herbal
Plants naturally encourage your brain and body to work together. Rosemary increases bloodflow to the brain and sage improves concentration.
27. Head for the bees
To boost your brain power look for vitamin B, found in oats, tuna, chicken, wholewheat and bananas. Vitamin B6 aids memory, while 1, 2, 3 and 12 help manufacture and repair brain tissue.
Let the “experts” argue about whether you can boost IQ or not, in any absolute sense. If you slept well, exercised, then sat up straight and breathed deeply as you took the test, don’t you think you would score a few points higher on an intelligence quotient test? More importantly, wouldn’t you be better prepared for whatever mental tasks you faced?
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