Friday, September 9, 2016

How to be smarter: 10 Tips confirmed by science

intelligence

Intelligence is not a monolithic capacity but varies over the years. In fact, when we are young we have a smoother intelligence and with the passing of the years, in adulthood and old age, we develop a crystallized intelligence, which is fundamentally based on the experience that we have accumulated and the education acquired.

This means that intelligence can be developed. Although a genetic component includes that its development is also influenced by the environment, an enriched environment, which continually presents us new challenges, will help to improve our intelligence. Of course, our attitude is very important too: to solve a problem it is not enough to persevere but is essential to remain open to different perspectives.

Science shows how to be smarter


If you're wondering how to be smarter you have to know that the first step is to expand the concept of intelligence. Intelligence is basically the ability to solve problems, which means that you can enjoy it in different parts of life and is not limited to science, as is commonly thought. An intelligent person is one who can find a good solution in an interpersonal conflict, who can understand why he feels bad emotionally or may express a powerful message through written words or images.

1. Open yourself to new ideas

Intelligence often goes hand in hand with creativity. Therefore, to develop it is essential to remain open to new ideas, and the more they move away from conventional thinking, the better is. This is confirmed by a study of the London School of Economics, according to which the conservative people showed an average IQ of 95 points, while those who declared themselves as very liberal showed an IQ of 106 points. Of course the political orientation has nothing to do with it, the key is openness to experience. A mind open to new things is a more active mind.

2. Learn another language

Learning is a stimulus for the brain and a kind of fertilizer for intelligence. In fact, a study conducted at the Georgetown University Medical Center revealed that bilingual people have a greater volume of gray matter in the frontal and parietal lobes, the areas of the brain involved in executive control. The gray matter consists of cells whose function is to process the information and facilitate the reasoning, for that reason has been related with intelligence and the ability to solve problems.

3. Read More

There are many types of readings, but not all are effective to stimulate intelligence. In fact, the "light" content does not bring anything. On the contrary, readings that promote reflection or a good novel that allows us identify ourselves with the characters bring many benefits. A study conducted at Emory University revealed that a good novel acts as a kind of "massage" for the neurons and the effect continues even when closing the book. In fact, the deep reading activates different brain areas, not only those relating to the words processing, but also the default neural network, which is exactly the one that has been correlated to the ingenious intuition and solutions.

4. Meditate

Meditation is very beneficial for the brain. This practice not only promotes relaxation, but also improves attention, memory and boosts intelligence. A study conducted at the University of California found that people who practiced meditation one hour a week for 3 months showed significant improvement on cognitive tests, much more than those who had undergone a brain training program. Neuroscientists also discovered that people who meditated showed a better level of communication between the different areas of the brain, particularly those related to memory, attention and communication.

5. Change your habits

Habits save time, but they play against us if the goal is to improve intelligence. Habits make that the brain functions in an automatic way and strengthen the existing neural connections. But to solve the problems is required a bit of mental flexibility, and this is achieved by creating new connections. In fact, a research done at the University of Sydney found that there is a relationship between neural plasticity and intelligence. To improve neuronal plasticity is necessary to look for new stimuli. For example, you can change your route to go to work, brush your teeth with the opposite hand or just try new flavors. The idea is to challenge ourselves to find new ways of doing things. Then we expand our minds.

6. Develop an apprentice mentality

If you want to be smarter it is essential not to close up any idea, however absurd it may seem. In fact, the most ingenious solutions have emerged precisely combining seemingly unrelated ideas. Therefore, it is essential not to entrench itself in the role of the expert. In this regard, a study conducted at Cornell University found that when people consider themselves expert in a given field, are more likely to have a close mind in that area. This is because they think they can not learn anything new about it. But in doing so they just close to the new discoveries and the latest prospects, which are those that represent a challenge for intelligence.

7. Sleep enough

Sleep is essential for your brain. In fact, recent neuroscience have found that during sleep the brain gets rid of metabolic waste products. Therefore, the lack of sleep affects memory, attention and thought. In fact, it was found that when a person passes a sleepless night is as if his brain "pompasse" desperate energy to the prefrontal cortex, to be able to think. Moreover, a study conducted at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4 in Germany found that the brains of people who sleep little changes, and these changes produce a cognitive instability. What's more, adequate sleep subtracts emotional impact to the problems, so that the day the mind will be fresher and will be easier to find a solution.

8. Talk alone loud

If you have to solve a problem a good strategy is to talk alone with yourself. Psychologists at the University of Illinois have asked a group of people to try to motivate themselves and solve some anagrams, some had to do it in their minds and others talking out loudly. The people who talked alone aloud not only solved more anagrams, but were also more satisfied with their performance. This is due to the fact that when the task is difficult it is easier to find a solution if the thought is translated into words. This is why children often speak loudly when they are doing their homework or try to solve a problem.

9. Go out for running

How to be smarter? Going out to run! Neuroscientists at Harvard University made some people run for about 30 minutes while others realized stretching exercises. They found that running increases blood flow to the frontal lobes, which are involved not only in problem solving and decision-making, but also help us to better control the emotions. This is why running clears the mind.

10. Rest

Both mental stress and physical fatigue affect the ability to solve problems and find good solutions. In fact, research carried out by the University of Texas revealed that when a person is exausted the prefrontal cortex operates at half its normal capacity because the blood flow to these areas of the brain is significantly decreased. This means that we will have confused ideas and will be more difficult to pay attention to things and make good decisions. Therefore, a good strategy to develop intelligence is getting enough rest, before running out of energy.


Sources:
Olulade, O. A. et. Al. (2016) Neuroanatomical Evidence in Support of the Bilingual Advantage Theory. Cerebral Cortex; 26 (7): 3196-3204.
Bernstein, E. E. & McNally, R. J. (2016) Acute aerobic exercise helps overcome emotion regulation deficits. Cognition & Emotion; 4:1-10.
Eyre, H. A. et. Al. (2016) Changes in Neural Connectivity and Memory Following a Yoga Intervention for Older Adults: A Pilot Study. J Alzheimers Dis; 52(2): 673-684.
Atir, S. et. Al. (2015) When Knowledge Knows No Bounds. Self-Perceived Expertise Predicts Claims of Impossible Knowledge. Psychological Science; 26(8): 1295-1303.
Rosenberg, J. et. Al. (2014) “Early to bed, early to rise”: Diffusion tensor imaging identifies chronotype-specificity. NeuroImage; 84(1): 428–434.
Dolcos & Albarracín (2014) The inner speech of behavioral regulation: Intentions and task performance strengthen when you talk to yourself as a You. European Journal of Social Psychology; 44(6): 636-642.
Mehta, R. K. & Parasuraman, R. (2014) Effects of Mental Fatigue on the Development of Physical Fatigue. A Neuroergonomic Approach. Human Factors: The Journal of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society; 56(4): 645-656.
Berns, G. S. et. Al. (2013) Short- and Long-Term Effects of a Novel on Connectivity in the Brain. Brain Connectivity; 3(6): 590-600.
Kanazawa, S. (2010) Why Liberals and Atheists Are More Intelligent. Social Psychology Quarterly; 73(1): 33-57.
Garlick, D. (2002) Understanding the Nature of the General Factor of Intelligence: The Role of Individual Differences in Neural Plasticity as an Explanatory Mechanism. Psychological Review; 109(1): 116–136.

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How to be smarter: 10 Tips confirmed by science
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Jennifer Delgado Suárez

Psicologist by profession and passion, dedicated to to string words together. Discover my Books

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