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3 Incredible Ways Science Improves Your Kids’ Lives (For Successful Futures)

3 Incredible Ways Science Improves Your Kids’ Lives (For Successful Futures)

Most people know by now (at least I hope most do) that playing music to your infants while they’re still in their cribs… actually increases their IQ and EQ.

We’ve heard a lot by now that playing classical music boosts our ability to study. (So much in fact that repeating this feels like I’m beating a long-gone dead horse.)

But… researchers conducted a scientific experiment involving control groups. And kids in the “music” group performed better on tests than the kids who did the tests without music.

Musical training, as it’s called, isn’t just for kids, either. Playing music helps everyone learn more effectively. (Especially learning music theory.)

(And, personally, there is no greater joy than listening to music and knowing how to play the songs I love. From Bob Dylan’s folksy beginnings all the way to Tom Waits’ serene melodies. Love truly is the power of music.)

But this is just the tip of the ice-berg when it comes towards using several social sciences to make your kids smarter.

Another CRUCIAL way is by using…

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1. Exercise Increases Intelligence

Did you know that being fit and in good shape increases our learning abilities?

This is because exercising for as little as 3-months increases our brain’s blood flow. This is crucial to understand… because… that blood flows to the parts of our brain associated with memory and learning.

It’s been well-documented that exercise increases brain derived neurotrophic factors (BDNF) and lowers cortisol.

Cortisol, as I’m sure you’re aware, is the ipso facto “stress” hormone in our bodies. Too much cortisol and our heads go through the roof in an explosion!

Regular, consistent exercise lowers cortisol. That’s a fact.

Promoting BDNF is important because it’s related to cognitive improvement and the eradication of depression and anxiety. (It’s actually a protein that is commonly referred to as “Miracle-Gro for the brain.”)

Exercising to spike BDNF and reduce cortisol levels is much safer and faster than taking antidepressants – which usually take up to two weeks (all the way up to a month) to kick in. Plus, not all antidepressants are created equal, and may end up doing more harm than good.

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For a more immediate (and natural) way to lower anxiety and depression, as well as annihilate stress, take 10 minutes out of your day for some exercise with your kid.

This is why jumping jacks are a staple among serious health lovers. They get you heart rate up, put some oil on your limbs, and keep you young. Same as burpees. (If traditional burpees are “beneath you”, here’s over 44 burpee variations to make things interesting and brutal.)

Best part is – kids don’t even have to do these for long! All they need per day is 10 minutes of these exercises. (If they can make it that long – burpees are killers.)

To prove your kids’ mettle and increase their fluid and crystallised intelligence, give them a round of exercise. Something as easy as…

  • 5 jumping jacks
  • 5 burpees
  • 4 jumping jacks
  • 4 burpees
  • 3 jumping jacks
  • 3 burpees
  • And so on. (This is a REAL work out! Try it out for yourself if you don’t think so.)

Plus, counting the burpees and jacks as they’re doing them can stimulate their recollection memory.

2. Lets You “Hack” Into Success (Quickly)

When we’re figuring out how to do something – a DIY weekend project, or figure out how to work some new device (like an mp3 player)… do we figure out how to do it by reading about it?

Sure. We might read a few how to articles, hit up YouTube or Vimeo for instructables. But it isn’t until we actually go ahead and DO it that the doing gets done. (You can read about how to change the cold/hot water hoses on washing machines – but you’ll never know how to until you actually change them. Same as how you read books on raising infants – it wasn’t until you actually practicedwhat you read about that you knew how to.)

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The same goes for children: we, as humans, learn the most by engaging in activities. Not passively reading about them or watching screens.

In fact, some researchers have made the argument that all those “educational” DVDs and teaching shows don’t make kids smarter; for infants under 12 months exposed to this type of media, they make them dumber.

Well, not dumber – that’s cruel to say. I should say that infants (and kids) who watched those “Baby Einstein” movies didn’t have any distinct advantage over plain-ol’ learning.

Author of The Talent Code (a best-selling book that shows you the best ways for nurturing talent using cutting-edge neurology, and how to utilise that talent for future success), Dan Coyle suggests testing ourselves (and your kids) on skills you read about. This gives you (and your child) the greatest chance for learning.

3. Happy Kids = Successful Adults

Is there really a science behind happiness?

Yes, yes there is.

Inspiring happiness and actually keeping your kids happy (as much as possible) boosts their self-esteem. This self-esteem transforms into increased performance. Which translates into later success as an adult.

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It seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? But the scientific evidence is there.

Obviously, since you’re a role model to your loved ones, being happy yourself (in front of them) is the first step to take to make sure they have smiles across their faces – as children mimic their parents.

Conclusion

All the way back in 1968, Rosenthal and Lenore Jacobson performed a study in the classroom.

They simply told certain teachers that they had particular students who were academically gifted. (When, in fact, the students who were told they were gifted were chosen at random.)

Mean? Maybe. But it doesn’t change the fact that those kids – by year’s end, had performed better on tests than the “non-gifted” students. So much so that they acquired 20+ IQ points when tested.

So encourage your kids! This is above and beyond one of the best things you can do to ensure your kids are smarter.

If you value your chilrens’ future happiness and success at all, you’ll follow (and DO) the hints and tips listed above. Why not give it a shot? You have nothing to lose and everything wonderful to gain.

Featured photo credit: woodleywonderworks/CC BY 2.0 via flickr.com

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Maya Levine

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Last Updated on June 6, 2019

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

Science Says Silence Is Much More Important To Our Brains Than We Think

In 2011, the Finnish Tourist Board ran a campaign that used silence as a marketing ‘product’. They sought to entice people to visit Finland and experience the beauty of this silent land. They released a series of photographs of single figures in the nature and used the slogan “Silence, Please”. A tag line was added by Simon Anholt, an international country branding consultant, “No talking, but action.”

Eva Kiviranta the manager of the social media for VisitFinland.com said: “We decided, instead of saying that it’s really empty and really quiet and nobody is talking about anything here, let’s embrace it and make it a good thing”.

Finland may be on to something very big. You could be seeing the very beginnings of using silence as a selling point as silence may be becoming more and more attractive. As the world around becomes increasingly loud and cluttered you may find yourself seeking out the reprieve that silent places and silence have to offer. This may be a wise move as studies are showing that silence is much more important to your brains than you might think.

Regenerated brain cells may be just a matter of silence.

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     A 2013 study on mice published in the journal Brain, Structure and Function used differed types of noise and silence and monitored the effect the sound and silence had on the brains of the mice.[1] The silence was intended to be the control in the study but what they found was surprising. The scientists discovered that when the mice were exposed to two hours of silence per day they developed new cells in the hippocampus. The hippocampus is a region of the brain associated with memory, emotion and learning.

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    The growth of new cells in the brain does not necessarily translate to tangible health benefits. However, in this instance, researcher Imke Kirste says that the cells appeared to become functioning neurons.

    “We saw that silence is really helping the new generated cells to differentiate into neurons, and integrate into the system.”

    In this sense silence can quite literally grow your brain.

    The brain is actively internalizing and evaluating information during silence

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      A 2001 study defined a “default mode” of brain function that showed that even when the brain was “resting” it was perpetually active internalizing and evaluating information.

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      Follow-up research found that the default mode is also used during the process of self-reflection. In 2013, in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, Joseph Moran et al. wrote, the brain’s default mode network “is observed most closely during the psychological task of reflecting on one’s personalities and characteristics (self-reflection), rather than during self-recognition, thinking of the self-concept, or thinking about self-esteem, for example.

      “When the brain rests it is able to integrate internal and external information into “a conscious workspace,” said Moran and colleagues.

      When you are not distracted by noise or goal-orientated tasks, there appears to be a quiet time that allows your conscious workspace to process things. During these periods of silence, your brain has the freedom it needs to discover its place in your internal and external world.

      The default mode helps you think about profound things in an imaginative way.

      As Herman Melville once wrote,[2]

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      “All profound things and emotions of things are preceded and attended by silence.”

      Silence relieves stress and tension.

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        It has been found that noise can have a pronounced physical effect on our brains resulting in elevated levels of stress hormones. The sound waves reach the brain as electrical signals via the ear. The body reacts to these signals even if it is sleeping. It is thought that the amygdalae (located in the temporal lobes of the brain) which is associated with memory formation and emotion is activated and this causes a release of stress hormones. If you live in a consistently noisy environment that you are likely to experience chronically elevated levels of stress hormones.

        A study that was published in 2002 in Psychological Science (Vol. 13, No. 9) examined the effects that the relocation of Munich’s airport had on children’s health and cognition. Gary W. Evans, a professor of human ecology at Cornell University notes that children who are exposed to noise develop a stress response that causes them to ignore the noise. What is of interest is that these children not only ignored harmful stimuli they also ignored stimuli that they should be paying attention to such as speech. 

        “This study is among the strongest, probably the most definitive proof that noise – even at levels that do not produce any hearing damage – causes stress and is harmful to humans,” Evans says.[3]

        Silence seems to have the opposite effect of the brain to noise. While noise may cause stress and tension silence releases tension in the brain and body. A study published in the journal Heart discovered that two minutes of silence can prove to be even more relaxing than listening to “relaxing” music. They based these findings of changes they noticed in blood pressure and blood circulation in the brain.[4]

        Silence replenishes our cognitive resources.

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          The effect that noise pollution can have on cognitive task performance has been extensively studied. It has been found that noise harms task performance at work and school. It can also be the cause of decreased motivation and an increase in error making.  The cognitive functions most strongly affected by noise are reading attention, memory and problem solving.

          Studies have also concluded that children exposed to households or classrooms near airplane flight paths, railways or highways have lower reading scores and are slower in their development of cognitive and language skills.

          But it is not all bad news. It is possible for the brain to restore its finite cognitive resources. According to the attention restoration theory when you are in an environment with lower levels of sensory input the brain can ‘recover’ some of its cognitive abilities. In silence the brain is able to let down its sensory guard and restore some of what has been ‘lost’ through excess noise.[5]

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          Summation

          Traveling to Finland may just well be on your list of things to do. There you may find the silence you need to help your brain. Or, if Finland is a bit out of reach for now, you could simply take a quiet walk in a peaceful place in your neighborhood. This might prove to do you and your brain a world of good.

          Featured photo credit: Angelina Litvin via unsplash.com

          Reference

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