Brain Training: 104 No-nonsense Tips to Supercharge Your Brain

(Last Updated On: April 23, 2017)

The brain permeates our everyday lives. Without the brain, we are good for nothing. To make the most of our brain, it must be exercised and must be encouraged for growth and development – just like any other muscle in our body! You either use it or lose it.

That’s why keeping the brain active and kicking should be a priority at all times. Do you like to achieve more? Don’t let your brain’s capability stop you!

But how do you exercise your brain?

Below are a list of 100+ science-backed brain exercises and tips to boost your brain. This is a 7,700+ worded article so take your time to read, discover and apply what’s best for you 🙂

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 Physical Exercises 

combined study by UCLA Medical Center and the University of Pittsburgh shows that different kinds of physical brain training exercises and activities can improve brain power and volume, and reduce the risk of getting Alzheimer’s disease by 50%! It is also true that a fit body is a fit mind – and staying in shape boosts brain power and can make you smarter.

Further studies have found that people who do aerobic exercises have a great volume of entorhinal cortex, an area of the brain responsible for our memory.

1. Exercise in the morning

Exercising in the morning mentally prepares you for the stress you will encounter through the day. It spikes brain activity, allowing you to have better reaction and decision-making, and increases your retention to new information.

2. Dance classes

Dancing makes you smarter. Dancing is so good for our brain that at least once a week of dancing activity can maximize your brain function. A study also says that dancing frequently offers the greatest reduction of the risk of dementia.

3. Jumping jacks

Jumping jacks is a simple exercise you can do even in a small space. It will quickly get your blood pumping!

4. Walking

Walking three hours per week improves cognitive function and memory, says a research by the University of British Columbia.

5. Juggling

Unless you are juggling pancakes, juggling offers many benefits to the brain and there’re are lots of studies and researches to prove that. One study says that it enhances and grows brain connections by tweaking the brain’s “white matter”. There were people who practiced juggling 30 minutes a day and researchers noted some important changes in the brain:

“We have demonstrated that there are changes in the white matter of the brain – the bundles of nerve fibers that connect different parts of the brain – as a result of learning an entirely new skill.”

Now who says that juggling is just a party trick?

6. Cycling

Spinning wheels is also a good exercise for the mind. Introducing a bicycling by-product: the BDNFCycling doubles or triples the production of neurons in the brain by firing up the production of a protein, called the brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), says Brian Christie, Ph.D., a Canadian neuroscientist. There is also a study where the subjects went through a twelve-week program of stationary bicycle exercise and seen with increased concentration of BDNF.

7. Running

Running can lead to formation of new brain cells, scientists says. Running, and other aerobic activities prevent swift deterioration of mental abilities that happen as we age.

But it is not just running, further researches says. Endurance running – running over long distance at a moderate speed – in particular can help you increase your brain function.

8. Table tennis

According to the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), ping-pong or table tennis is the world’s most popular sports being played by 300 million people worldwide. The fact that the risk of injuries on this sport is very low, people love being part of this game so much.

And it doesn’t end there, there is more in table tennis that you probably don’t know. Table tennis is the No. 1 brain booster sport, scientists say. “In ping pong, we have enhanced motor functions, enhanced strategy functions, and enhanced long-term memory functions,” explained Dr. Wendy Suzuki, professor of neuroscience and psychology at New York University and the author of  Happy Brain, Happy Life.

9. Yoga

A research by the University of Illinois evidenced that just a 20-minute session of Hatha Yoga enhances information processing and memory retention. Participants also showed significant improvement on performance, better reaction times and high scores on working memory and inhibitory tests after the 20-minute yoga.

10. Super brain yoga

Super brain yoga is a simple squat yet excellent brain exercise that offers enormous helpful benefits. So how do you perform a super brain yoga? Follow these steps:

How to do Super Brain Yoga
  • Face East. For the elderly, face North.
  • Remove any jewelry and connect your tongue to the roof of your mouth (Just like when you are saying “La”. Leave it there throughout the exercise.
  • Take your left hand, cross your upper body to take hold of your right earlobe with thumb and forefinger. Make sure that the thumb is in front.

Super brain yoga

Image Source
  • Now take your right hand across your upper body to take hold of your left earlobe. Again, make sure that the thumb is in front. At this point, you’re pressing both earlobes simultaneously. Make sure your left arm is close to your chest and inside your right arm.

Super brain yoga 2

Image Source
  • Inhale through your nose and slowly squat down to the ground.
  • Hold your breath and exhale as you start making your way back up to a standing position.
  • Repeat this squatting action 14 times. Remember to keep holding your earlobes and to keep your tongue touching the roof of your mouth throughout the entire exercise.

If you prefer a video, check out this video below:

According to research, here are the benefits of Super brain Yoga:

  • It energizes and activates the Brain
  • It increases the inner peace
  • Reduces psychological stress and gives greater psychological stability
  • Greater intelligence and creativity
  • Regulates the sex drive
  • Partial cleansing and energizing effect on chakras and auras
  • Transformation of the lower energies into higher energies
  • Proper functioning of the brain
  • It increases the flow of pranic energies within the body
  • Prolonged practice makes the practitioner in general, smarter and psychologically balanced
  • Spiritual growth
 Note: The benefits are temporary in nature. It should be done almost everyday to re-activate brain cells. 

 

 Brain Games 

Do brain games actually sharpen one’s brain? Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D. says it’s YES and NO while Dan Hurley says, actually it’s a YES. Whatever it is, brain games are definitely fun and an exciting way to improve your brain.

11. Do math questions

Mathematics is a brain booster. Patterns and connections involved in math help you build your brain’s muscles resulting to overall intelligence. This is why great mathematicians, like Leonardo Da Vinci, achieve incredible things.

This is how math builds the brain:

  • It creates systematic thinking
  • It develops the ability to analyze and solve a problem
  • It allows the mind to work confidently, even on unfamiliar things.
  • It develops sequencing skills for logical conclusions
  • It promotes caution and care by making us arrive at an accurate answer as you solve a problem.
  • It allows us to think logically through trial and error.

12. Do crossword puzzle

There are lots of crossword puzzles but the two common types are the general knowledge crossword and the cryptic crossword.  Which one benefits the brain more? The one that offers more brain improvement are cryptic crosswords, according to research. It enhances metacognition and it reduces cognitive decline in later life.

Here are some benefits of crosswords puzzle:

 

13. Sudoku

Puzzles like Sudoku beats vitamins, according to the scientists. It’s a fun hobby with simple rules that are easily accessible to us. If you want to play and learn Sudoku online, you can visit websites like http://logicmastersindia.com where they have monthly competition of Sudoku and http://www.goplaysudoku.com/ where you have the chance to put your name on the rank list displayed on the right side of the Sudoku form if you are worthy enough.

So you might be thinking, “I hate numbers you know!” Relax. Don’t be afraid to give Sudoku a try. What’s good in Sudoku is that you don’t need some sort of knowledge beforehand, compared to crosswords that require a good knowledge of trivia.

Apart from improving your memory and stimulating your mind, here are other benefits of playing Sudoku:

  1. It gives a sense of accomplishment – you feel epic when you finished hard to beat Sudoku puzzle.
  2. Improves concentration – It requires focus. The game involves a lot of thinking process.
  3. Reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s.

14. Play 3D video games

Not all video games are good for the brain. Irvine, a Neurobiologist at the University of California talks about how only 3D video games can improve the brain in this YouTube video:

In the research, those who played 2D game like “Angry Birds” showed no signs of memory gain while those who played 3D game, “Super Mario 3-D World” improved their memory recall by about 12%.

15. Play action-type Video games

Action video games act as a brain enhancement too. Action video games have a positive benefit to the brain. According to Dr. C. Shawn Green and Aaron R. Seitz:

Action video games — games that feature quickly moving targets that come in and out of view including large amounts of clutter, and that requires the user to make rapid, and accurate decisions — have particularly positive cognitive impacts, even when compared to “brain games,” which are created specifically to improve cognitive function. Action video games have been linked to improving attention skills, brain processing, and cognitive functions including: low-level vision through high-level cognitive abilities. Many other types of games do not produce an equivalent impact on perception and cognition. Brain games typically embody few of the qualities of the commercial video games linked with cognitive improvement.

16. Play Video games that force you to multi-task

Games with complicated situations and requires players to multitask is proven to rebuild mental functions that diminish as we age. A research was done where neuroscientists teamed up with developers to develop a game called NeuroRacer.

NeuroRacer research

You can see the game in action here:

This ground-breaking study improved old brain’s cognitive functions. After the training, the older adults were able to perform better than an untrained 20-year-old.

17. Rubik’s cube

Rubik’s cube is a great way to improve spatial intelligence which is considered as a perfect brain training according to BrainMetrix.

 

 Brain Training Apps 

Whether you are on Android, IOS or online, you will find a handful of brain training apps that can keep your mind and brain out of being idle. These apps offer the best training exercises for your benefit. They are proven to increase brain functions. Here are some of the apps that are worth a try today, that will definitely stretch goodness out of your mental muscles! Find what you like and power on!

18. Peak

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

What Peak can give you:

  1. It is packed with fun bite-size games designed for specific cognitive skills.
  2. Their games are scientifically researched designed to improve cognitive process
  3. Maintain your brain performance through its daily 6-game workouts.
  4. Earn Peak points and meets or beat your daily targets.

Find: Android | iOS | Website

19. Elevate

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

Elevate has a tagline “Your personal brain trainer.” It was selected by apple as the Best App of the Year in the United States. Elevate includes 35+ training activities and this is how the app works:

elevate app

Find: Android | iOS | Website

20. Lumosity

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

Lumosity contains 50+ cognitive games. It has daily workouts that challenge 5 core cognitive abilities. Games are adaptive to your skill level too – which means games can never be dull as you will always be challenged. You can also track your scores to get personal insights about your training.

Apart from that, Lumosity App developers collaborate with the university researchers worldwide to deepen the understanding of human cognition more.

Find: Android | iOS | Website

21. Fitbrains

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

Not to mention the 60+ games to choose from the app, here are the things that FitBrains boasts:

  1. Smart Games – exercise your brain while having fun!
  2. Fun, Fast, and Competitive – The app is packed with short and quick games and even compares your performance to other people like you.
  3. Trains emotional intelligence – One thing FitBrains have that the other competitors don’t, is that they are the only training program that train both cognitive skills and emotional intelligence.

Find: AndroidiOS | Website

22. Cognito

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

Want to be a secret agent and improve your brain at the same time? Train your brain with Cognito. Around its brain training games, you will have personalized missions and become an agent for your own improvement. Cognito is designed to cater for the 5 core cognitive functions such as the memory, focus, speed, adaptability and reasoning.

Find: iOS | Website

23. BrainHq

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

BrainHq claims that they have dozens of published papers showing real benefits of their training, no other program has that same level of proof.

Here’s what BrainHq can give you:

  1. Courses and challenges
  2. Personalized training
  3. 29 brain training exercises with hundreds of levels

Find: iOS | Website

24. Neuronation

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

Neuronation focuses especially on improving the working memory. According to them, their mission is to keep the brain active – the ingredient to a healthier and happier you.

Other features of Neuronation:

  1. Scientifically proven and developed with scientists
  2. Adapts to your performance so you remain challenged throughout
  3. 60 exercises
  4. Offers personalized training whether you are young or old.

Find: Android | iOS | Website

25. Eidetic

eidetic ios app

Free + Pro version

Having trouble memorizing phone numbers, words and facts? The Eidetic app will help you conquer it with the help of a technique called spaced repetition.

Find: iOS | Website

26. Cognifit Brain Fitness

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

According to CogniFit:

CogniFit precisely measures and trains each individual’s cognitive skills. It identifies cognitive alterations and deficiencies, and create a personalized brain training program specific to each user’s needs.

CogniFit adapts to your specific needs to ensure optimal boost on your cognitive function

Find: Android | iOS | Website

27. Happify

happify app

Free + in-app purchases and Premium subscriptions

With its name, you will have an idea of what this app is all about. Not all brain training app aims at improving just the mental part of the brain. Having a positive outlook of life results to improved emotional well-being and better brain functions – and Happify helps you with that. Happify will invite a positive change in you with its games and exercises.

Find: Android | iOS | Website

28. Brain workshop

Free

If none of the apps appeals to you, maybe you will love this because this software is completely free!

The Brain Workshop implements Dual n-back tasks, which according to research, has been proven to improve fluid intelligence and working memory. Brain Workshop is available on Windows, Mac OS X and Linux. To download and learn how it works, visit the website.

Find: Website

 

 Food-related 

Learn how to boost your brain with the right foods.

29. Don’t take too much sugar!

We all know that consumption of too much sugar affects our health. What you don’t know is that it also affects brain functions. On UCLA’s research about rats, a diet with high level of fructose (sugar) hampers memory and learning. “Our study shows that a high-fructose diet harms the brain as well as the body. This is something new.” Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, said in the said study.

A research also shows that a diet high in added sugar can reduce the production of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) in which the lack of this brain chemical brings about impaired memories and learning.

30. Coffee

Caffeine, found in coffees, blocks Adenosine – a chemical that influences attention, sleep, and alertness. The result? The stimulating chemicals like glutamate and dopamine can flow easily to the body resulting in improved mental performance.

31. Moderate alcohol

Brain enhancement by drinking? Moderate alcohol consumption has surprisingly health and brain benefits. So what’s a “moderate” consumption? Well, it varies depending on a person’s body type. But According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, “moderate alcohol consumption is defined as having up to one drink per day for women and up to two drinks per day for men.”

Moderate alcohol is proven to increase the likelihood of being free from memory loss and boosts electric signals in the brain which improves interaction between brain cells. Ethanol also keeps the brain sharp by helping the neurons in the brain.

32. Extra virgin olive oil

Press the olives, and olive oil will come out – and the best type of olive oil is the Extra Virgin Olive oil; because it is extracted using natural methods. In fact, the extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on the planet.

Olive oil is the best brain food. It increases the production of brain-boosting chemicals – brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF).

33. Pomegranate juice

In a study, pomegranate juice significantly improves memory. The study concluded that the intake of this augmented memory functions. This is just one of the many reasons why you should try pomegranate juice!

Health benefits of pomegranates

34. Green leafy vegetables

Green leafy vegetables such as the spinach, kale, collards and mustard greens keep mental abilities sharp. Adults should consume at least three cups of dark green vegetables each week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

35. Nuts

Nuts such as walnuts, hazelnuts and almonds contribute to brain health and even balance your mood especially the walnuts which is known as the “Ultimate Brain Food” and the “Brain-Boosting Nut”.

36. Egg yolks

Egg yolk has a high level of B-Vitamin, Choline, which is a known aid in brain development.

37. Dark chocolate

Study reveals that eating dark chocolate makes your brain smarter. Dark chocolate is made up of 70% cacao, which is rich in flavonoids. These flavonoids according to researchers penetrate regions of the brain responsible for learning and memory.

38. Avocados

How do avocados increase brain power? Avocados have a high level of monounsaturated fats, which are known to increase production of acetylcholine which is very important for learning and memory. This kind of fat also aids healthy blood flow, meaning a better brain function. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C, E and anti-oxidant properties like the Avocado, promotes brain health and a good memory.

 

 Daily Routines 

Check out these activities that you can do every day to supercharge your brain.

39. Enough sleep

Lose sleep, and you lose your mind and health. Sharpen your memory recall with proper sleep. A research says that sleep doubles the chance of remembering information.

40. Deep breathing

Deep breathing, also known as “controlled breathing,” “paced respiration,” “diaphragmatic breathing” can actually increase brain size. 

41. Use the Dead Time

In a long line? Waiting for someone? Train your brain to make use of your idle or dead time to learn new things.

42. Laugh

In a study, those who watched and laughed at a 20-minute funny video; performed better than those who didn’t. Those who watched scored better on short-term memory tests, and their stress hormone was greatly reduced.

43. Begin and your end day with positivity

Thoughts can change the brain’s structure and functionality. Positivity can rewire your brain – forming new neural pathways and strengthen areas of your brain responsible for positive thoughts. There is also a study where people with positive thoughts like joy and love can see more possibilities in their life.

44. Surf the web. Google is a friend!

Mr. Google is a brain trainer. Don’t believe that surfing the internet is a total waste of time. It’s a myth. New evidence says that Google makes us smarter75% of experts  also say that the internet can improve someone’s knowledge and his ability to read and write.

45. Expose yourself to the sun

The natural light from the sun not only improves brain function but it’s also beneficial to our immune and nervous systems as well as muscle functions.

46. Fasting

DO you know that fasting can supercharge your brain?

Other ways fasting benefits the brain:

  1. It increases the level of Brain-Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF) – low levels of BDNF is linked to Alzheimer’s disease.
  2. Boosts Neuronal Autophagy – without it, the brain can’t perform and develop the way it should

47. Read anything

Read anything that you enjoy. It reduces stress and enhances the three types of intelligence: crystallized, fluid and emotional.

48. Try new things

There are lots of research like this and this that shows how an enriched environment affects rats.

The thing is, an enriched environment works on humans too. Trying new things will enclose us into an enriched environment where our brains will be engaged. Give new ideas to the brain and you’ll have a stronger one.

49. Stay hydrated

You can stay smart by getting hydrated. Researchers have found that even a mild dehydration negatively affects the brain. They found that drinking water improves your ability to complete immediate tasks.

50. Have a good breakfast

Having a good breakfast is a must not only for every child, but for adults too. Evidence shows that proper breakfast help kids learn in school. A balanced breakfast provides the right nutrients that help memory functions.

51. De-clutter

Learn to de-clutter your life for a more focused and healthier brain. An uncluttered space, will help you with your focus and concentration; making your brain sharper.

52. Powernap

How long should you nap for the greatest brain benefit?

how long to nap

According to Sara Mednick, the author of Take a Nap! Change your Life – a 10 to 20-minute nap will boost your alertness, but a 60-minute nap will make you remember more – however a 60-minute nap will give you grogginess.

 

Our friend at Quora asked this question “What are some of the easy things that anyone can do to keep improving their intelligence?” The thread resulted to a lot of comments are here our top picks:

53. Read the Newspaper

Be aware of the happenings around the world! Source

54. Follow interesting blogs or Facebook Pages

Facebook pages like “I F*cking Love Science” will keep you up with the latest news on science and technology. Today I Found  is a very good trivia site to follow too. Source

55. Get Lost and Find your way back

It is a nice way to develop spatial intelligence. Source

56. Hang-out with people that are smarter than you

If you surround yourself with smart people, there is nothing you can do but to learn from them. Source

57. Do something scary

Getting ourselves out of our comfort zones make us wiser! Source

 

 Relationships 

Discover how healthy relationships with the persons around you can make you smarter.

58. Volunteering

One way to exercise your brain is by volunteering. “Volunteering keeps people mentally active; it keeps their weight in check, their heart healthy, and their memory sharp,” says Sharon Brangman, MD, chief of geriatrics at the SUNY Upstate Medical University.

59. Schmoozing

Here’s how Merriam-Webster defines it:

schmooze meaning

Researchers say that being together and chatting with friends helps increase brain power and keeps the mind sharp.

60. Socialize

No man is an island, right? The thing is, socializing is like hitting two birds with one stone:  You gain friends and you become smarter. Studies show that those who engage in social interactions increase their level of cognitive performance.

61. Have sex

Yeah, you read that right J Sex helps grow brain cells in the area of the brain associated with retention called the hippocampus. A study also found that orgasms offer more benefit to the brain than a crossword and Sudoku. “Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localized regions,” Barry Komisaruk says, “Orgasm activates the whole.” Mind=Blown.

BUT beware: IF having sex makes people smarter, it does not hold true that smart people will have more sex.

 

 Recreations 

Recreations are not just for enjoyment anymore. Learn how to improve your brain in your free time.

62. Learn new skills

Learning new skills will help you get rid of dementia. Getting a new skill or a hobby will put us on challenging activities that rewire networks in the brain, strengthening the connectivity between every part of the brain.

63. Read fictions

It is known to all that reading helps a person in many ways.  Reading fictions especially, was found out to help readers’ boost their imagination. And not just that, reading fiction also frees you from stress – one of the hindrances for peak functionality. In fact, reading for as little as 6 minutes will give you a handful of benefits:

reading and stress

64. Write

Writing by hand, pen and paper are what we are talking here. Sure you can write faster on a laptop or other typing electronics, but it hurts performances, According to some studies. Writing down notes by pen, not by laptops, will help you recall more concepts and information. New studies also say that when children first learned to write by hand, they also learn how to generate and retain more ideas.

While writing by hand benefits the baby boomers by maintaining their cognitive functions sharp as they age, it’s not only them that benefits from it, but adults too.

65. Meditate

Meditation quiets and relaxes the mind. Our body, in turn, becomes calm and stress-free. Knoles says that all meditations generally are good for the brain. He says that those people who meditate become more creative and increase their learning power. Our brain has two hemispheres, left and right. Another power meditation gives is that it balances your brain hemispheres.

meditaion left and right brainAside from that, meditation also gives us a better focus, creativity, compassion, better memory and more gray matters.

66. Teach yourself origami

pegasus origami

Image Source

Origami is a Japanese art of folding paper. BUT it’s not just about being proud that you’ve made a swan out of a scratch paper. In fact, children in Japan are taught the art of origami because it can improve one’s cognitive and motor skills.

It’s not only ideal for children but Adult age groups can benefit from origami too. It’s a great brain exercise and not only that, it is an inexpensive hobby. According to Psych2Go, origami can:

  • Develop eye-hand coordination
  • Strengthen memory
  • Increase the ability to focus on a specific task
  • Enhance 3-Dimensional thinking

67. Create Mind Map

Mind Maps gained its popularity and is now used by MILLIONS of people. Wikipedia defines mind map as:

A diagram used to visually organize information. A mind map is often created around a single concept, drawn as an image in the center of a blank page, to which associated representations of ideas such as images, words, and parts of words are added. Major ideas are connected directly to the central concept, and other ideas branch out from those.

Mind map can be applied to almost every aspect of life you can think of. Like this Shakespeare Mind Map.

shakespeare mind map

Image Source

This will help you organize your ideas by creating a “map” coming from the center (your main idea, in this case, Shakespeare) and then branching out to related ideas. In return, you remember more and you unlock hidden potentials of your brain.

For better understanding, here are the 7 Steps to Making a Mind Map shared by Tony Buzan, the one behind popularizing “Mind Map”:

  1. Start from the CENTRE of a blank page turned sideways. Why? Because starting in the center gives your Brain freedom to spread out in all directions and to express itself more freely and naturally.
  2. Use an IMAGE or PICTURE for your central idea. Why? Because an image is worth a thousand words and helps you use your Imagination. A central image is more interesting, keeps you focussed, helps you concentrate, and gives your Brain more of a buzz!
  3. Use COLORS Why? Because colors are as exciting to your Brain as images are. Color adds extra vibrance and life to your Mind Map, adds tremendous energy to your Creative Thinking, and it’s fun!
  4. CONNECT your MAIN BRANCHES to the central image and connect your second- and third-level branches to the first and second levels, etc. Why? Because your Brain works by association. It likes to link two (or three, or four) things together. If you connect the branches, you will understand and remember a lot more easily.
  5. Make your branches CURVED rather than straight-lined. Why? Because having nothing but straight a line is boring to your Brain.
  6. Use ONE KEYWORD PER LINE. Why? Because single keywords give your Mind Map more power and flexibility.
  7. Use IMAGES throughout. Why? Because each image, like the central image, is also worth a thousand words. So if you have only 10 images in your Mind Map, it’s already the equal of 10,000 words of notes!

ALERT: There’s a mind mapping and brainstorming software available. Check it out here.

68. Watch TED talks!

Do you know that you can learn lots of things just by watching TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks? And they cover almost every topic you can think of!

About TED:

TED is a nonpartisan nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment, and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 110 languages. Meanwhile, independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world.

Visit TED.com now!

 

 Creativity 

Being artistic can do wonders on your brain too.

69. Arts and crafts

Being engaged in arts and crafts can stimulate the brain and can protect you from damages to the brain caused by aging. Indulging yourself in complex quilting activities, for example, can actually stimulate areas of the brain responsible for attention span, problem-solving and creativity.

Art also makes the left and right hemispheres of the brain work in tandem. The result? You are able to achieve the full potential of your brain. Indulging in art also invites creative thinking and building strong network connections to the brain.

70. Play Musical Instruments

Playing instruments practically lights up every area of the brain. While doing this activity, our brain processes information simultaneously making it more active. Anita Collins, says that when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout. She explains this in her TED-Ed lesson. Learn more by watching the video below!

 

71. Learn new language

Researchers found  that being bilingual delays the brain aging process and onset of dementia. It also has some widespread effects on the brain and develops efficiency in switching attention and working memory. In Mia Nacamulli’s TED-Ed lesson, she explains that there are 3 types of bilingual brain – compound bilingual, coordinate bilingual, and subordinate bilingual – and how this helps boost brain health. Watch the video below for more information.

 

72. Listen to classical music -The Mozart Effect

Listening to music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is linked to intelligence and increased brain wave activities.

But what is the Mozart Effect?

Dr. Alfred A. Tomatis popularized this and it is a study on how classical music benefits the brain. This theory had fans and haters but one study found that students absorbed more information during a lecture with a classical music playing in the background. Another study found that the Mozart Effect is associated with learning and better memory. A research from the Sapienza University of Rome shows that the Mozart’s music activates the part of the brain associated with attention and cognitive function.

You can check the most famous pieces of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart here.

73. Use mnemonic devices

We’ve extensively covered how to boost brain power using mnemonic devices for better memory here.

74. Doodle

“When you draw an object, the mind becomes deeply, & intensely attentive. And it’s that act of attention that allows you to really grasp something, to become fully conscious of it.” says the designer Milton Glaser, an author of a 2008 monograph titled Drawing Is Thinking.

Not only is doodling fun and creative, it also makes the brain active and it stimulates ideas for improvement. A study in Applied Cognitive Psychology showed that people remembered 29% more information on a surprise quiz after they read people’s name while doodling.

“You can use doodling as a tool … to change your physical and neurological experience, in that moment,” says Sunni Brown, author of The Doodle Revolution.

Check out this doodle about Doodling.

why doodling matters

 Mind-set 

How can the mind dictate the brain?

75. Adapt a growth Mind-set

Carol Dweck, the author of the book Mind-set, says that not only our abilities and talents can bring us to success but having a growth mind set. He believes that what separates successful people from the unsuccessful ones is whether you have a growth or a fixed mind-set. Believe it or not but findings show that believing you can get smarter makes you smarter.

Those with a fixed mind-set will always think that their abilities and intelligence are limited and static while those with a growth mind-set will always be positive in life and always think that there are many rooms for learning, growth, improvement and development of skillsets.

In other words, people who adapt a growth mind-set know that they can develop intelligence – they just have to work hard and focus on self-development rather than having a doubt and wasting time telling themselves “worthless”.

Adapt a growth mind-set now!

76. Stop ANTs (Automatic Negative Thoughts)

It’s normal for the brain to think of negative thoughts and discard the good ones. It’s a defense mechanism used by the brain to save us from possible hurt and disappointments. ANTs are those thoughts or voices that tell you “Hey, you are not good enough. You can’t do it.”

What’s the plan? You have to kill these ANTs and focus more on positive things. Dr. Amen, the author of Change Your Brain, Change Your Body , showed how you can kill ANTs using 3-easy Steps on this short but powerful video:

3 Steps to Kill ANTs:

  1. Write it down – if these ANTs starts popping, identify and write them down.
  2. Investigate – Are these ANTs true or false?
  3. Talk back – If it’s false, tell these negative thoughts that these aren’t true!

77. The Tetris Effect

Walter Chen, in his post on Bufferapp, talks about how the “Tetris Effect” affects the brain and how it can combat the negativity bias.  Findings show that playing Tetris grows the brain: The participants grew their gray matter on the brain but decreased their brain’s activity compared to when they had just started – on which the researchers concluded that the brain consumed less energy as they learn how to play Tetris. As you learn to do the task over and over again, the process becomes more automatic so they take up fewer resources on the brain.

“We think the brain is learning which areas not to use. . . . As you learn the game, it becomes more automatic.”

This is where the “Positive Tetris Effect” comes into play: We train our brain to make positive patterns more automatic. It is about our positive mind-set making it as a habit so that optimism is more automatic, sustainable and long-lasting.

Happiness is a work ethic . . . . It’s something that requires our brains to train just like an athlete has to train.”

78. Ask questions. Be curious

So how does curiosity makes us smarter? A study about curiosity discovered that curiosity motivates learning, so people learn better when they are, about an information.  Many studies have also shown that the more curious and motivated we are about a subject, the more engaged our cognitive functions become. The result? We learn and recall better.

79. Diversity

Do you know that diverse groups – groups that are composed of people with different genders, races, ethnicity and sexual orientation are smarter than homogenous groups? The reason here is that diverse groups will offer more perspective and opinions than a homogenous one.

diversity makesus smarter

Just think about this: You are in a group with people that think just like you. Therefore, it’s a homogenous one. Will it do well? NO. The fact is we need ideas coming from people with different backgrounds, whether it is diversity on the field of expertise or social diversity.

How can you apply this?  Surround yourself with different people. Share different ideas and opinions.

80. What you wear

Now you will find this one really mind blowing. You will realize how “clothing” actually improves brain function and makes you smarter.

When you think of a scientist, what picture comes to your mind? It’s a man or a woman wearing a lab coat, isn’t it? Who told them to wear lab coats anyway? LOL. Well, there was a test conducted – half of the participants wore lab coats and the other half didn’t. Those who wore lab coats made only half the mistakes the other half did. The heck?

Professor Karen Pine, on her new book Mind What You Wear  claims that clothes affect perceptions and mental processes. Different clothes, different mental processes.

She did a study, on which she asked a group of students to wear a Superman T-Shirt. Those who wear superman shirts increased their confidence, it made them think they are physically stronger, likable and superior to other students.

Another test was also conducted where women did math test. Some wore swimsuit and some wore sweater. The result? Those who wore sweater performed better.

81.Mindfulness

Study show that mindfulness affects the hippocampus, a brain region responsible for memories. Research found that being mindful – that is non-judgemental, present moment awareness – increases the gray matters in this area of the brain. Mindfulness also affects perception and complex thinking. Furthermore, mindfulness improves relationship and reduces stress and anxiety.

82. Happiness

We all have this thinking: Success will bring us Happiness. What if it’s the other way around? Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage, in his TED talk, says that happiness brings us to success. How? Our brain works better when we are happy and positive. Watch his TED talk below:

 Neurobics 

What are Neurobics? How Neurobics boost brain power?

Neurobic exercises will use your 5 physical senses to “shake” your daily routines.

neurobics

Basically, it’s all about doing something novel to you and using multiple senses. When we keep on doing the same thing over and over again, the brain will run on somewhat autopilot, which means, the brain will only use fewer resources. However, on doing neurobic exercises, that unused or underused nerve pathways will be activated. The result? A boosted and healthier brain.

DR. Lawrence C. Katz, made a full list of neurobic exercises on his book: Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness

Keep your brain alive book (You can get the book here)

How to exercise your brain using neurobics? Below are some of my favorite neurobic exercises and you will find these either weird or interesting. Another thing about this is these brain workouts can be done almost everywhere and anytime while being busy with your life.

See: We Love These Brain Books (And You Should, Too!)

83. Turn things upside down literally.

You can turn things upside down, things like: like calendars, clocks, notes, etc – anything you like. When things are upside down, the brain will try to interpret the object like a puzzling picture.

84. Change the order of your meal

What’s for dinner eat it for breakfast and vice versa or start your meal with a desert. Your brain loves the unexpected!

85. Change your routines

Change your alarm tone or set it to alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual. Do something unusual that changes your morning routines. You use less of your brain when your activities become routine and automatic – which yields lesser brain power.

86. Learn new hobbies – Like archery

Improve brain power by learning new hobbies that require you to pay attention to surroundings and use more than one of your senses are great.

87. Travel

Let expose your senses to a whole new surrounding through traveling.

88. Plant a garden

You use all your senses to plant a garden! You have to plan things like what is to plant, and how much sun exposure you need.

89. Read Aloud

Reading aloud activates your left and right brain.

90. Try a new cuisine

Trying new cuisines introduce “neurobic stimuli” from exotic foods and tastes rather than eating the same meal at the same time every day. Perhaps try a cheesy Italian breakfast tomorrow!

91. Brush your teeth with a non-dominant hand

This simple exercise allows you to use the other side of your brain instead of the side you normally use.

92. Take a different route to work

Always take that road when going to work? Your brain only gets a little exercise when it’s on autopilot. Take an unfamiliar route. But just make sure you won’t be late to work or else….

93. Shower with your eyes closed

Your hands will feel the textures you don’t “see”, and it will bring the messages to the brain.

94. Switch seats at the table

Most families have their own seat at the table. Switching will help the brain. How? It has been said that brain benefits from new experiences.

95. Play with spare change

We always rely on visual cues to identify things. Try to distinguish different coin denominations solely relying on your sense of touch. Because of this, your brain will be more exercised.

96. Play 10 things

Keep the brain strong by identifying alternatives of objects. The rules are simple: Someone will hand you an object and identify “10 things” that the object can be. For example, A fly swatter might be a tennis racket, a golf club, a fan, a baton, a drumstick, a violin, a shovel, a microphone, a baseball bat, or a canoe paddle.

 More Weird Ways 

Want some more?

97. Chewing gum

Study reveals that while you’re chewing a gum, your alertness and thinking boosts by 10%. That results to quickened reaction time and the ability to encode information faster. It was discovered that brain regions responsible for movement and attention are the most active while chewing gum. Unfortunately, once you spit out the gum, you spit out the alertness too.

98. Making a fist (clenching)

So what’s the trick? How do i improve my brain with just making a fist? Clenching your right hand before consuming an information and clenching your left hand before remembering it can boost your recall, scientists say. If you want to memorize a phone number, for instance, clench your right fist first before memorizing it and then clench your left fist upon trying to recall it.

So here’s the experiment:

  • 50 right-handed students were given a list of words to learn
  • They were divided into five groups
  • One group clenched their right fist for about 90 seconds before memorizing the list and then did the same before recollecting the words
  • A second group carried out the same test, but with the left hand
  • Two other groups clenched one hand prior to learning the words (either the left or right hand) and the opposite hand prior to recollecting
  • A control group did not clench their fists at all
  • The group that clenched their right fist when memorizing the list and then clenched the left when recollecting the words performed better than all the other hand clenching groups
  • This group also did better than the group that did not clench their fists at all, though this difference was not statistically ‘significant’.

Research found that clenching activates the regions of the brain associated with memory processing.

99. Using crazy Funky fonts styles

Using a font style that is hard to read helps aid memory, according to studies . SO WHY? Researchers say that when an information is presented in a difficult-to-read font styles, you tend to focus more and read it carefully. On the other hand, when an information is easy to read, you tend to be over-confident and you will more likely skim over the information.

And so it goes, researchers say, with most study sessions: difficulty builds mental muscle, while ease often builds only confidence.

So what are these funky fonts? A study from Princeton University says fonts like the
Comic Sans Ms

and

bodini MT

100. Climbing a tree

Proprioceptively dynamic activities like climbing the tree and balancing on a beam even in just a short period of time can dramatically improve working memory functions and boost cognitive skills, according to a research made by the University of Florida. According to the study:

After two hours, participants were tested again, and researchers found that their working memory capacity had increased by 50 percent, a dramatic improvement.

Dictionary.com defines proprioception as

proprioception meaning

The researchers have found that when you are climbing a tree, your brain constantly evaluates your balance and spatial awareness, giving your brain an amazing workout.

101. Stand up!

A new study suggests that standing desks boost neurocognitive functions – and this is true for adults too.
Researchers swapped the seats in a high school classroom for standing desks. The lead author, Ranjana Mehta, Ph.D., said: “continued use of standing desks was associated with significant improvements in [the students’] executive function and working memory capabilities.”

Another study also found that students who were standing are 10% more engaged than those who were sitting.

So instead of sitting on your desk with your laptop the whole day, try to use a standing desk. IF you are looking for the best standing desks, you can find the best deals on Amazon.

102. An apple a day..

..not only keeps the doctor away. Eating apple is associated with better brain function similar to medications. It can be among the best diets anyone could have. Animal studies suggest that apple consumption can potentially decrease the risk of having Alzheimer’s disease because apples increase the production of acetylcholine, a chemical that aids the flow of messages between brain nerves – thus a better memory.

103. Wander your mind

Study says that mind-wandering is predominantly future-focused such as planning and anticipating personal future goals. Furthermore, mind-wandering can enable cognitive functions essential to an individual.

104. Thinking about your ancestors

In a post of Shankar Vedantam, the author of The Hidden Brain, he said that researchers found that people who thought about their ancestors performed better on cognitive tests on intelligence than those who had been made to think other things.

The Hidden Brain once posted this question on their facebook page.

And the correct answer was letter B.

Trying to answer so difficult? Why not think about your great-grandpa first 🙂

Wrapping it Up

There you go. A list backed with science on how to boost your brain. I hope you will never run out of options of what to follow. Just remember that it all boils down to ACTION. You may badly want brain improvement, but if you don’t take action, then nothing will happen. Don’t let your cognitive functions decline as days pass.


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