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Last Updated on January 13, 2020

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

How to Increase Brain Power, Boost Memory and Become 10X Smarter

Have you ever relied on a mental grocery list, only to forget one or two items after you’ve left the supermarket? Or what about an idea or thought that came to mind while you were making your way to work, and you tell yourself you’ll write it down once you reach the office, only to forget about it soon after?

Our memory, no matter our age, will fail us every now and then. Whether it’s trying to recall something quickly, or remember something long term, we will encounter memory blanks or slips.

Sometimes, when we have too much information to absorb, we go through what is called memory overload, and that also causes our minds to go into a blank, or we’re simply not able to grasp more information. That’s why your teachers will advise against cramming for exams at the last minute!

So how to increase brain power, improve your memory and become smarter? I’ll reveal the secret to this in a minute.

The Harsh Truth About the Human Brain

If you’re looking for ways on how to train your brain to boost memory, this is something you should know:

The reality is, our human mind was never made to memorize, store or recall a ton of information.

Back in the Stone Age, our brain was designed to process the environment around us and to anticipate danger around us. It was all about survival then: hunting for food, finding for shelter and safety away from harm and danger.

Over time, with developments and discoveries, our brains had to develop and get accustomed to what is around us. The amount of information we now have access to has grown exponentially over the Ages.

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Now, in the Age of Information, the cost of getting new info is so low that it happens right at your fingertips–resulting in information explosion!

Since we have the capability of info at our fingertips, the amount of information we have to process is ever-increasing. As technology has advanced, we now have to perform more complicated tasks, which require us to quickly retrieve information from our memory (writing, operating a relatively complicated tool, delayed information such as trading goods, signing contracts, etc.).

These days, our brains are less like survival organs and more like pattern recognition machines. They are now required to process enormous amounts of information, to make decisions, and to make connections amongst a myriad of information.

The Brain’s New Challenge

With this change comes new limitations to our brains. Because we have limited brain capacity, the amount of information grows so much that everything just passes through our mind without solid retention (Information overload), and we can’t tell what is useful or not.

We’re facing an unprecedented number of tasks to handle on a daily basis–resulting in mental energy that has to be distributed among many different things at once.

When it comes to memorizing, decision making or learning a new skill, which is more valuable to you? Which skills would you rather improve and build on?

How to Upgrade Your Brain

Here is where I’m going to help you to upgrade your brain. Yes, that’s right.

Like a personal assistant or secretary, I’m going to show you how you can boost brain power and give your brain an aid that will help you to effortlessly sort through all the information that comes to you on a daily basis.

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This brilliant aid is called the Digital Brain.

In contrast to a human brain, computers are great at storing information. It’s reliable (thanks to cloud computing), accurate, and extremely detailed.

From a computing perspective, memory involves three key elements:

  1. Recording — storing the information
  2. Organization — archiving it in a logical manner
  3. Recall — retrieving it again when you need it

Like a computer, having a Digital Brain will work in the same way as this memory framework to manage how information flows into and out of your brain.

Here’s an example:

When setting up a new account on a website, due to strict security settings, many sites require you to come up with complicated passwords with special characters that you don’t usually use.

As a result, you now have to memorize this new password (Record), associate it with the other passwords that’s stored in your brain (Organize), and enter that password the next time you log in (Recall).

Even in this simple example, there are several parts in the process which will make it all too easy to forget. Because this new password is unique, we have a hard time recognizing it with our regular patterns. And if we don’t use the password everyday, it’s easy to forget it after a few days. One day you’ll try to recall the password but enter the incorrect one over and over again.

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Sound familiar? It’s one of the most common things that happen.

Is it because the information is complicated? Nope. A password is just a bunch of characters, numbers, and symbols.

It happens because our brains are not made to memorize. With a Digital Brain, you can delegate it to do the heavy lifting.  

Making Room for Learning and Creativity

Many people get confused with storing versus learning in this Digital Age.

Learning requires spaced repetition, applying different learning models and then applying those skills. Whereas storing means having information in a ‘library’.

When you go to a library, you borrow a book to find a specific piece of information. When you’re done with it, you put it back. With a Digital Brain, this becomes your personal library of knowledge.

With your brain now freed up from having to store information, it can focus on more crucial aspects like learning, decision making, problem solving and making meaning out of all the incoming information.

Wouldn’t this be much easier for you to get things done on a daily basis? Whether it be something as trivial as getting your groceries, or something more complex like planning out what’s needed for a project you’re working on. Your Digital Brain will help you effortlessly organize it.

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Here at Lifehack, we’ll teach you how to set up a system to record, organize and recall information effortlessly. You’ll also learn how to build a habit to rely on your Digital Brain like second nature, all in a step by step manner.

A Digital Brain for Everyone (No Matter How Old You Are)

I’m sure some of you might be wondering if this is really for you. You may be well into your 50’s or 60’s, and going digital isn’t something you’re keen to keep up with.

Well, the good news is that having a Digital Brain isn’t reserved for Millennials or the younger generation. There are many layers to the Digital Brain, and the interesting thing is that it’s constantly upgrading according to new advances in technology.

So, you get to pick how much of a Digital Brain you want to adopt into your existing lifestyle. Age need not be a barrier when it comes to adopting a Digital Brain! 

At Lifehack, we’ll go over how to make the most of your Digital Brain to think smarter and learn faster. Learn more in our FREE webinar: Spark Your Learning Genius (Fast Track Class)

More to Increase Your Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 30, 2020

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

How to Tap into Your Right Brain’s Potential

You may have heard someone say they are “totally right brained” or that they’re “a left brained person.”

There is a pervasive myth that’s been making its rounds for over a century: people have two hemispheres of their brains, and if they have a dominant left brain, they’re more analytical; and if they have a dominant right brain, they are more creative.

Before we go debunking this theory and then giving some tips for how people can access their creative brain centers, let’s first take a look at where the left brain/right brain lateralization theory comes from.

The Left Brain/Right Brain Lateralization Theory

In the 1800s, scientists discovered that when patients injured one side of their brains, certain skills were lost.[1] Scientists linked those different skills to one side of the brain or the other. Thus began the left brain/right brain myth that continues to this day.

Then, in the 1960s and 70s, Roger W. Sperry led 16 operations that cut the corpus callosum (the largest region that connects both brain hemispheres together) in order to try to treat patients’ epilepsy. Sperry wrote about the differences in the two hemispheres as a result of those surgeries.[2]

Sperry’s work was popularized in 1973 with a New York Times article about his lateralization theory—that people were either right brained (read: logical) or left brained (read: creative). From here, Sperry won the Nobel Prize for his work and numerous other publications spread the right brain/left brain myth.

Debunking the Right Brain/Left Brain Myth

If anything, the lateralization theory of the brain is a gross exaggeration. It is true that people have two hemispheres of their brains. It is also true that there are differences in the composition of those two hemispheres.

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However, the hemispheres are actually much more interconnected than Sperry’s work initially made it seem.

In a 2013 study,[3] scientists scanned over 1000 people’s brains, checking for lateralization. They confirmed that certain brain functions occur predominately in one hemisphere or the other but that, in reality, the brain is actually much more interconnected and complex than the right brain/left brain lateralization theory makes it seem.[4][5]

A New Metaphor for Right Brain/Left Brain

How do we get past this right brain/left brain myth?

First, let’s look at what contemporary cognitive science says about brain regions, and creative and logical modes of thinking.

My background is as an improviser and improv researcher. I wrote Theatrical Improvisation, Consciousness, and Cognition and think looking at improvisation and the brain can shed light on a new model for talking about unlocking the brain’s creative potential.

Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scans have shown that while trained improvisers improvise (musically on a keyboard, rapping, and comedic improvisation) an interesting shift happens in their brain activity. [6]

A region called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex decreases in activity and creative language centers such as the medial prefrontal cortex increase in activity. The dorsolateral prefrontal cortex is linked with conscious thoughts—that inner voice that tells you not to say something or criticizes you when you do.

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The medial prefrontal cortex is among the brain regions linked with creativity. So, instead of thinking about right brain and left brain, perhaps it’s more current and correct to think about more specific brain regions instead of hemispheres. Perhaps, it’s more useful to think about which activities and strategies will allow us to inhibit our dorsolateral prefrontal cortexes and allow our medial prefrontal cortexes to flourish.

How to Enhance Your “Right Brain” — Creativity

Whether we’re talking about right brain versus left brain, creative versus logical, or medial prefrontal cortex versus dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, we still know enough to talk about strategies to tap into your creative brain’s full potential.

So, now that we’ve dispelled the right brain/left brain myth and looked at a more contemporary, cognitive neuroscience theory of brain regions and creativity centers, let’s look at how to tap into the potential of your creative brain.

1. Performing Arts

One way to tap into your creative brain centers is to participate in the performing arts. Whether you improvise, act, or dance, the performing arts allow you an embodied experience that will help you snap out of your habitual, logical thoughts.

Another benefit of the performing arts is that it changes your attention. Attention and creativity are inextricably linked. When we improvise, act, or dance, we have to focus intently on our fellow performers. This means we are forced to focus less on our conscious, logical thoughts. This frees us up for more creative thinking and expression.[7]

One of the conclusions of my research on improvisation is that focusing intensely on fellow improvisers and the task at hand makes it more likely that we experience a flow state. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi,[8] a Professor of Psychology and Management defines flow as an optimal psychological state when our skills match the difficulty of the task at hand. Our perception of time is altered as we get into the zone and become more present and in the moment during our chosen activity.[9]

A flow state is a creative state. It’s the opposite of crunching numbers and forcing ourselves to work out a problem with the conscious regions of our brain. So, get up, improvise, act, or dance to access your creativity.

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2. Visual Art

Art teacher Betty Edwards[10] wrote a book called Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Here again, we see that a shift in our attention can lead us to an increase in our creative thinking.

Edwards’ book gives art students tricks to shift the way they see the world. For example, one exercise encourages students to literally flip whatever it is they’re drawing upside down before they draw it. This forces budding artists to literally see the object in a new way. This shift allows them to focus more on the individual components and patterns of the object, which allows them to draw it better.

Shifting how we see things is another way we can access our creative brain centers. Take an art class to shut off your conscious, critical thoughts and start seeing things from a new, more creative perspective.

3. Zone Out

If there’s one thing creativity doesn’t like, it’s being coerced.

I think we’ve all felt that awful feeling of trying to force ourselves to be creative. When we force it, we’re really trying to force our logical brain regions to be creative. It’s like asking your gardener to perform your appendix surgery. It’s just not what she does.

Instead, stop forcing it. Take a break. Take a long walk or a relaxing bath or shower. Let your mind wander.

Whatever you do, stop forcing it. This break lets your creative centers rise to the surface of your attention and get heard.

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4. Practice Mindfulness

The final trick to start accessing your so-called right brain is to practice mindfulness.

Now, there’s a lot of different ways to go about mindfulness. You can take a more physical approach with a yoga class. Or you can try meditating to become more aware and in tune with your thoughts and feelings: Meditation for Beginners: How to Meditate Deeply and Quickly

You could also try to incorporate fun mindfulness exercises[11] into your everyday routine like forcing yourself to go on detours or pretending you’re a detective who needs to examine people and places closely.

Any way you do it, mindfulness exercises and training can help you become better versed in how your brain works and what your normal thought process is like on a day-to-day basis. If we’re ever going to reach our optimal creativity, we have to become an expert in how our individual brain functions. Mindfulness is one way to become your very own brain expert.

Mindfulness also has added benefits like calming us, slowing our breathing, and helping us become more observant, which are also great ways to start tapping into our creative potential.

Final Thoughts

So, it may not be correct to say that our right brain is our creative brain, but it is still a valid pursuit to try to optimize our creative brain centers.

The key to do so is to relax, become observant, shift your perspective, move your body, try something new, and, whatever you do, don’t force it.

Creativity can feel slippery. It can abandon us when we need it most, but by slowing down and looking at things from a new perspective, we can give ourselves a better chance of tapping into our ultimate creativity, even if that doesn’t exactly mean our “right brain.”

More Tips on Boosting Creativity

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

Reference

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