10 Ways to Train Your Brain

woman on swing, training her brain

In recent years, scientists have realized that the brain isn’t set and fixed, but instead fluid and changing throughout life. This means that you can teach an old dog new tricks, and today is the perfect day to start.

“Learning, reading, engaging in daily cognitive challenges/tasks as simple as reading books, taking college courses and doing word puzzles confers a significant degree of protection against mental illness and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease,” said NCU Professor Patrick McNamara, Ph.D.

Think of the brain as a muscle, the more you use it and train it, the more in shape it’s going to be. Companies like Lumosity and apps like Fit Brains Trainer and Eidetic are capitalizing on the trend.

So how can you train your brain today to be smarter tomorrow?

Here are the Top 10 Ways to Train Your Brain:

1. Do Something Different: If you eat right-handed, try it left-handed or take a different route home from work. The point is that we do the majority of our daily tasks on autopilot. This means your brain doesn’t have to think much. Shake up your routine and you shake up your brain.

2. Learn Something New: It doesn’t matter what it is. If you want to take up piano, golf or knitting, the idea is that you’re forcing your brain to make new neural connections.

3. Mono-Task: A growing body of research is showing that our love of multi-tasking is actually hurting out brains. The brain wasn’t designed as a computer to have multiple windows open.

4. Exercise: Physical activity reduces risk for stroke and helps neurogenesis, the birth of new cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain attacked by Alzheimer’s.
5. Make Music: Learn a new instrument or pick up the one you played as a child. Research shows that making music works out many areas of your brain from listening, to refined movements and more.

6. Play Ball: Go out and toss the ball around with your kids or your grandkids because mastering sensory-guided movements hones your brains’ tactile, visual and coordination responses.

7. Laugh: It turns out it really is the best medicine. Laughing engages multiple parts of the brain and working out punch lines in your head sparks learning and creativity.

8. Listen: Most of us don’t really listen. It’s one reason we forget names so easily. It takes about eight seconds of intense focus to process information into memory.

9. Sense It: The more senses you involve the better your memory. Try and relate information to colors, smells, taste, textures and places.

10. Visualize: Make associations to remember things better. For example if you just met Joe visualize a coffee shop and cup of Joe will be easier to remember the next time you meet him.

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