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Last Updated on December 11, 2020

This Is How You Can Raise Your IQ And Improve Your Memory

This Is How You Can Raise Your IQ And Improve Your Memory

Many traditional theorists on intelligence hold that there are limits set by biology on IQ and memory.  However, modern psychologists have shown with published research that IQ can be raised (see Cassidy, Roche & Hayes, 2011) and that these IQ rises are permanent (Roche, Cassidy &Stewart, 2013).  We also know that memory is an essential component of intellectual functioning and that this too can be improved (see Jaeggi et al., 2008).  These studies show that IQ score no longer has to refer to a number that limits us.  Rather, it can be seen simply as a starting point for us to continuously increase our intellectual skill sets for meaningful gains in all avenues of life. Below are 7 ways to raise your IQ and 5 ways to improve your memory.

7 Ways to Raise Your IQ

1. Improve your relational skills

Psychologists have also discovered that there is a strong correlation between relational skills and IQ scores (O’Hora, Pelaez & Barnes-Holmes; 2005, O’Toole & Barnes-Holmes;2009, Cassidy, Roche & Hayes; 2011, Roche, Cassidy & Stewart; 2013).  Importantly, we also know that relational skills can be taught.  So improving your relational skills will in turn increase your IQ score.  Relational skills are simply the understanding of a handful of mathematical relationships between concepts or objects such as things are the same as other things, more or less than other things, opposite to other things, and so on.  They also include relationships like before and after or that one thing is contained by another.  Moreover, having a strong handle on the relationships between and among other things has been shown to enhance thinking and problem solving skills. In fact, these relational skills are now being called the building blocks of intelligence by psychologists in the field of Relational Frame Theory.

2. Enrich your language

It is commonly accepted that coming from a language rich environment will increase a person’s intellectual acumen.  But I’ll bet you didn’t know that for those that do not come from such an environment, you can read widely to increase your vocabulary and make up for that “deficit” in your natural environment.  Research indicates that having a strong understanding of language will help you with many cognitive tasks and indeed with everyday life. Increasing your vocabulary by reading will increase your understanding of language in a more general sense. Also, keep a good dictionary. When you come across words that you do not know or are not familiar with, don’t be afraid to “look it up”.

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3. Eat healthy food and get regular vigorous exercise

It might seem like every self help guru today is telling us to exercise and eat right.  But did you know that this advice is now widely supported by scientific research?  Indeed there is an ever growing body of evidence suggesting that people who have healthy diets and those that engage in regular vigorous exercise have higher IQ scores and better memories. Researchers at Boston University School of Medicine have recently published that physical activity is highly beneficial for brain health and cognition (2013). There are also many specific foods that play a role in having a healthy diet and will in turn raise IQ.  For example, scientists know that vegetables, such as broccoli, spinach, tomatoes, some berries and the omega 3 oils found in oily fish improve memory and overall brain functioning (Roche, 2014) as do green teas and protein in general.  Protein contains high levels of amino acids, such as tyrosine, which in turn causes neurons to produce the very important neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine, which are associated with mental alertness.  (see, Roche, 2014 for more).  Diet and exercise are not just important for the health of your body. They are also vital for the health of your brain.

4. Appeal to the experts

Sometimes you cannot find the answers to the questions in your mind on the Internet or from reference books, When that happens, it’s time to ask the experts.  Just make sure that the experts you are asking are actually informed and knowledgeable sources.  There is a great deal of information out there that is simply incorrect, so always look for scientific evidence backing up any “facts”.

5. Have a growth mindset

It is a relatively recent discovery that your mindset matters not just on an emotional level, but also on a physiological level.  Believing that you can learn more will enhance your performance in any learning environment. Persisting with tasks even when they are difficult will help you to get to the finish line.

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6. Do brain training

While I always caution people to avoid pseudoscientists and charlatans, there are brain training programs and techniques on the market that have been shown in published scientific research to improve your memory (e.g., the n-back procedure) and to raise your IQ (e.g., relational skills training).

7. Step outside your comfort zone

Research shows that we can increase our brain’s functioning by pushing ourselves to learn things that are outside of our current skill set.  So learn to play music, to dance or try out a new language.  The important thing is that you are exercising your brain in a new way and thus expanding your brain’s neural networks.  Keeping your brain fit and active is especially important as you enter older adulthood.

5 Ways to Improve Your Memory

1. Practice

Once you have basic understanding of a topic in place, you will need to rehearse the information to “make it stick”. The old adage “practice makes perfect” still applies when you are trying to remember new things.  If you want to make information come to mind automatically, you need to rehearse it regularly.  Then you will be able to produce it quickly when you need to, whether that be for school, for your career or even for social reasons.

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2. Engage meaningfully with important content matter

In 1972, Psychologists Craik and Lockhart found that the more attention we pay to the meaning of what we see and hear, the better we will remember it.  In other words, memory is a function of how effortful and meaningful initial encoding was.  So if you process novel information at a deeper level, you will be better able to later recall that information.  Understanding aids memory and it will be harder to remember things if you are merely rote learning without fully comprehending the material.

3. Use visual imagery

There are many different ways that you can use visual imagery as a memory aid.  We’ve all heard of using mind maps where we imagine a map of the information or a tree with the branches that stem out each holding an important and relevant fact.  People might also find it useful to imagine a cloakroom with all of the pegs holding a piece of information.  So whichever method you prefer, the key point is that you visualize the information as you study it so that you can later recall it with greater ease.

4. Use acronyms

Back when we were all youngsters, a teacher or parent likely taught us to use acronyms and my guess is that most of us still remember some version of this, “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” (Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto). See??  It still works. You can also use this if you are trying to remember names at a conference (e.g., Black boots Brenda or Bushy eyebrows Earl).

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5. Pay attention to beginnings and endings

Research indicates that we remember more at the beginning and end of learning periods. This does not mean we zone out in the middle of a lecture, seminar or continuing professional development day, but be aware of your own optimal memory times.  Listen up for the introductions and conclusions and don’t be afraid to ask a teacher or a boss to summarize the main points again at the end of a lesson.

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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

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.

 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.

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.

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“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

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.

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.

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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]

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

Silence relieves stress and tension.

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.

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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.

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.

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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]

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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