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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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How to Fight Information Overload

How to Fight Information Overload

Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

What you need to do is focus on these 4 steps:

  1. Set your goals.
  2. Decide whether you really need the information.
  3. Consume only the minimal effective dose.
  4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming too much information.

But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

The Nature of the Problem

The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem. This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

When we see some half-baked blog post we don’t even consider reading it, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it. We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

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No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on. The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control. Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it. But first…

Why information overload is bad

It stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here. When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work, or enjoy your passion.

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So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with your goals.

1. Set your goals

If you don’t have your goals put in place you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

2. What to do when facing new information

Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans then skip it. You don’t need it.

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If it does then it’s time for another question. Will you be able to put this information into action immediately? Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks? Or is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away? If the information is not actionable in a day or two (!) then skip it. (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant. Self-control comes handy too … it’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future then SKIP IT.

3. Minimal Effective Dose

There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour Body,Tim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs. Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life. Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

4. Don’t procrastinate by consuming more information

Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

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Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

In Closing

As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance. I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over. I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

Feel free to shoot me a comment below and share your own story of fighting information overload. What are you doing to keep it from sabotaging your life?

(Photo credit: Businessman with a Lot of Discarded Paper via Shutterstock)

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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