Have you ever been speechless because you are running out of words to speak your mind? Or have you ever read a word that you are familiar with but suddenly cannot recognize its meaning? Sometimes, there also might be the case that you have a word in mind but you forget how to spell it right. These situations do not prove you are not intelligent enough but somehow show that your brain needs some more training.
Workouts aren’t just for your body, your brain needs them too.
The brain, anatomically speaking, cannot be called a muscle, though it is partly composed of muscle tissues.
There’s a very good reason though why experts use the analogy of exercising your brain as if it is a muscle — if you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Evidence suggests that mental stimulation improves brain function and reduces the risk of cognitive decline and related diseases.
So what kind of workout does a brain need? Probably learning more words.
Your body needs exercise, your brain needs new words.
We learn words by simulating how they sound and visualizing the concepts of the words. Instead of verbalizing the words, the brain is trained to recognize the words that frequently go together. That’s why sometimes when a word is misspelled, you can still recognize it easily.
Whenever we read, the visual cortex of the brain is stimulated to recognize the words. With continuous practice, our brains get used to connecting images and concepts. This process improves our memory as it helps our brains to recall our learned concepts and connect them with the existing stimuli.
Research also suggests that the brain is a dynamic organism.
“The brain changes as we learn more vocabulary, no matter the age, as vocabulary is learned at all ages.”
When we try to acquire a new word, the gray matter density increases as a result of learning, despite the age.
Researchers have performed a brain image analysis to show that people with similar verbal IQs can have different verbal knowledge levels when they try to increase the gray matter density through vocabulary acquisition. In other words, learning a new word is a practice to grow our brains and improve our intelligence.
Learning a new word is good. Taking up a new language is great!
Learning a new language can help you acquire a huge amount of vocabularies in a short time. A new language also teaches us new concepts and new realities.
Jay Rubin, the English translator to famous Japanese author Haruki Murakami, has illustrated this point finely:
“It’s still fascinating to sit back and realize that my brain is working in a totally different way when I’m functioning in Japanese. I very often feel I’m writing original -almost original- fiction. What’s on the page is Murakami’s prose, not his language.”
Japanese and English are vastly different; aside from containing very different sounds, they have completely different grammatical structures. According to Rubin, there’re also “intangibles” words in Japanese that explain concepts that don’t exist in other languages.
Apart from the foreign concepts, new words in our own language can also teach us new concepts. Going to learn something new? It’s very likely that you will learn a whole new list of vocabularies!
Kickstart with your brain workout schedule!
There are some easy ways to learn new vocabulary. You can try daily crossword puzzles on newspaper, or word-learning sites like Dictionary.com and Thesaurus.com. Just one click and you can learn a new word with all its meaning and usage explained.
For those who like to take on challenges, learning an entirely new language might also be a good option. Apps like Duolingo and HelloTalk help you keep track of your learning progress and provide quizzes and games to keep you motivated. Of course, you can also take a language class and interact with your fellow classmates often.
But my favorite way of learning new words and phrases is always from watching movies and listening to different types of songs. When I see or hear any words or phrases I’ve never come across before, I’d immediately put them down on my notes (well it’s handy because I’m just jotting the new words down on my phone’s notes app.)
One single new word every day will eventually make up a big list of words. Start small and you’ll end up big!
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
|||^||Havard Medical School: Can brain stimulation aid memory and brain health?|
|||^||Time: Your Brain Learns New Words By Seeing Them Not Hearing Them|
|||^||Academia.edu: Vocabulary and the Brain: Evidence from Neuroimaging Studies|
|||^||The Rumpus: THE RUMPUS INTERVIEW WITH JAY RUBIN|