We all know that IQ numbers say something about our intelligence, but what exactly is IQ? An IQ, abbreviated from intelligence quotient, is the total score derived from standardized tests that measure a person’s intelligence. Most people score between IQ 85 and IQ 115, while geniuses score above IQ 130. However, IQ is not completely reliable, and the numbers don’t show all aspects of a person’s intelligence. Nevertheless, if you want to score more on your next IQ test, maybe doing a bit of brain exercising could help. Playing games, solving puzzles, and learning new skills are just some of the things you could do to sharpen your mind. Here are a couple of ways you could do just that.
1. Simple workout
Running, cycling, yoga, and strength training can all make you smarter believe it or not. As explained in an article published in a 2014 issue of Comprehensive Physiology, research involving neuroimaging conducted in the past decade shows that physical exercise improves cognitive health and even enhances the functioning of brain regions responsible for controlling your cognitive processes. The researchers conducting the study provided a couple of explanations why exercise seems to affect out intelligence. Exercise is believed to modulate metabolic mechanisms that support brain functioning. Exercise is also said to change our DNA for the better via epigenetics mechanisms. But to put it simply, the increased oxygen intake, better nutrition, hormones release, neurotransmitter changes, and other things happening during exercise influence our brain on the molecular level and this apparently makes you smarter.
2. Puzzles and games
You’ll find crossword puzzles and games like Sudoku often being recommended for those wondering how to improve their memory, but do they work? Well, a study that was published in PLoS One aimed to find out just that by letting young adults play games like Tetris and Brain Age and measuring various aspects of their cognitive abilities, including their IQ. What the study found was that these types of games increase executive functions, working memory, and processing speed but not a person’s IQ. What this means is that so-called brain games only exercise some areas of mental functioning but not others. In other words, if you play a game that enhances your memory, that won’t necessarily make you better at say, painting or playing the piano.
3. Don’t rely on your devices so much
Our computers and other devices have become increasingly efficient in doing most of our work for us. While this is, in one way, a good thing, it may also make our brains a bit lazy. Practicing your math skills by doing your calculations from time to time and turning off spell check when writing. You’ll probably find many opportunities in your daily life to practice simple math and spelling skill such as with your banking activities, when paying your bills, when tax filing, texting, or grocery shopping. Make sure to employ what you’ve learned in school in your everyday life, so all those hours you’ve spent studying don’t go to waste.
4. Mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness techniques such as meditation could be considered a form of brain exercise because they involve training the mind to become silent. Unlike conventional exercises that train the brain to become better at processing information, the aim of meditation is to become more observant. One systematic review of the studies of the effects of meditation on cognition found that it helped prevent age-related cognitive decline. Furthermore, a study that was published in Consciousness and Cognition found that meditation improved visuospatial processing, working memory, and executive functioning.
5. Starve your brain
This may seem counterintuitive, but going without food for some time may help your mind stay sharp in the long-run. For instance, intermittent fasting, which involves going without food for around 16 hours and eating your regular meal at the end of a fasting session, was found to make the brain more resilient to damage. This practice will also increase the number of new neurons according to new findings. So, skip looking for best brain foods to boost your brain power and don’t eat any foods instead – but for a short while, of course.
6. Keep a journal
Writing journals is a great way to reflect on your life and express your feelings through written word. But the practice can also help you enhance critical thinking according to some researchers. In general, experts agree that journal writing enhances reflective thinking which is something you won’t see being tested in IQ tests. Nevertheless, keeping a journal will expand your vocabulary, provide an emotional outlet, and even help with depression. Alternatively, you can start blogging which is essentially a form of diary-style writing. The social aspect of blogging will also push you to your mental capacities because you’ll want to make your entries presentable.
7. Learn a new skill
Learning should not be something you only do in school. Learn a craft, a new language, or take up a new hobby. Learning to do new things will keep your mind active and stimulate areas of your mental functioning that may have been neglected. And keep in mind that variation is key. All IQ test essentially check your ability to find solutions to new situations. Since learning a new skill will require that you navigate through new information, you’ll become better at problem-solving as a result. And if you feel like you won’t manage to learn to do new things, don’t let that keep you from using your full mental capacities. A study published not so long ago in Studies in health Technology, and Informatics found that your confidence levels and attitude play a huge role in the capacity to learn new skills.
8. Learn to play an instrument
There’s a growing body of research linking instrument playing to greater cognitive abilities in both children and adults. An article published in the Frontiers in Psychology explains that reading and playing music is a complex activity comprising a motor and sensory multitasking. Other than that, playing music has a strong effect on your emotions, and this too can positively affect your mental capacities. The article in question covers a study that compared the effects of piano learning with a control group and found that the piano group performed better in Stroop tests.
While your IQ will probably remain the same throughout your life, that does not mean you can’t become smarter than you already are. After all, IQ can measure only certain aspects of your cognitive capacities while completely ignoring others. Make sure to follow the tips provided here, and you’ll be able to keep your mind sharp, your memory fresh, and your focus strong.