Brain exercises to sharpen your mind: Research shows
1. Use your non-dominant hand
Research has shown that using the opposite side of your brain can result in a rapid and substantial expansion of the parts of the cortex that control and process tactile information from the hand.
In his book Keep Your Brain Alive: 83 Neurobic Exercises to Help Prevent Memory Loss and Increase Mental Fitness, neurobiologist Lawrence Katz recommends using your non-dominant hand to strengthen your mind. Because using your opposite hand can be so challenging, it can be a great way to increase brain activity.
2. Change morning routines
Brain imaging studies show that novel tasks exercise large areas of the cortex, indicating increased levels of brain activity in several distinct areas. This activity declines when the task becomes routine and automatic.
So, if you take a shower before breakfast, consider changing the routine. Drive to work using a different route. Change your TV or news station. Even watching a kids’ programme may arouse the brain to notice how much of what you take for granted is explored in depth by children.
3. Switch seats
In most families, everyone has his or her “own” seat, but your brain benefits from new experiences. Switch seats to change whose position you occupy, who you relate to, your view of the room, and even how you reach for salt and pepper.
4. Turn objects upside down
When you look at things right-side up, your left “verbal” brain quickly labels it and diverts your attention elsewhere. When they’re upside down, your right brain networks kick in, trying to interpret the shapes, colours, and relationships of a puzzling picture.
5. Consider new scents
You probably don’t remember when you “learned” to associate the smell of coffee with the start of a day. The hippocampus, an area of your brain that processes memories, is, especially involved in associating odours, sounds, and sights to construct mental maps.
By linking a new odour—say, vanilla, citrus, or peppermint—to an activity, you’ll alert new neural pathways. Try to identify new smells and sounds on your route. Opening car windows provides these circuits with more raw material.
6. Have a partner to read aloud
When we read aloud or listen to reading, we use different brain circuits than when we read silently to ourselves. Read aloud with your partner or a friend, alternating roles of reader and listener. It may be slow to get through a book, but as a bonus you’ll spend quality time together.
7. Eat unfamiliar foods
Your olfactory system can distinguish millions of odours by activating unique combinations of receptors in your nose. There’s a direct link to the emotional centre of your brain, so new odours may evoke unexpected feelings and associations.
Foods high in nutrition work very well to power your brain. Walnuts, for example, are a fantastic source of brain food. Fish like tuna, mackerel, and salmon are rich in fatty acids that have been shown to help neuron function.
8. Play brain games
One of the best ways to make you smarter is to train your brain. Constantly facing challenges will help your brain go from strength to strength. The brain can be lazy sometimes.
Once it realises it has mastered something, it stops trying. The trick here is to use your full potential and push your limits. Play brain games such as Sudoku, brainteasers and other problem-solving games.
9. Be socially active
Studies suggest that people who are socially active are also at a lower risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientific research has repeatedly proved that social deprivation has severe negative effects on overall cognitive abilities.
Socialising tends to engage multiple areas of the brain and many social activities also include physical elements.
10. Keep intelligent company
Show me your friends and I will tell you what kind of person you are. You might have noticed that people of high intelligence often group together and this is because they want to discuss a broad range of topics freely without objections from their companions.