By Ian Wooldridge–
I’m sure many of you have seen “Limitless”: the movie starring Bradley Cooper, where his dead-end life and struggling writing career is instantly revived with the discovery of a new pill, called an NZT. The NZT allows him to access 100 percent of his brain, all at the same time. Just imagine being able to access 100 percent of your brain all at once, on the fly. Let’s just say you would not have any problem doing your homework anymore. While such a pill, like the one depicted in “Limitless,” is simply fiction, it is still possible to make your brain sharper; and you may just be amazed at how simple it can be, and how important it is.
The brain stops growing in size we reach adulthood. But it is important to know, that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the brain stops developing. As curiosity.discover.com states, “our brains might not continue growing in terms of mass or size after we reach adulthood, but they continue reorganizing and developing throughout most of our lives.” The brain is a constantly used organ, and whether we realize it or not, it can be affected in a vast amount of ways. Thus, it is very important to take care of it.
There are many, many ways to protect against cognitive decline and to make your brain a highly functional force to be reckoned with. The brain is constantly being used, and tons of information is being thrown at it at almost every possible moment. As Diane Ackerman, author of “An Alchemy of Mind: The Marvel and Mystery of the Brain,” writes, “our brain is a crowded chemistry lab, bustling with nonstop neural conversations.”
What are ways that we can train and help develop new conversations to be had between our neurons? Let’s look at a few practical measures. First and foremost, I have to mention sleep—and lots of it. Dr. Paul Nussbaum, from readersdigest.com writes, “Sleep is a highly active time for brain development and brain function.” He goes on to write that, “When considering lifestyle changes for brain health, one of the most important aspects to consider is sleep.” For some of us, finding time to sleep can be a real challenge; especially for students, who seem to not have enough time in the day to get our tasks completed. But, try making it a priority to at least get in eight hours a night. During sleep, concentration and memory functions of the brain can be developed.
Next up: exercise. Physical activity is a wonderful way to improve cognitive performance. A study conducted by the Department of Exercise Science at the University of Georgia showed that even 20 minutes of physical activity could help sharpen information processing and memory functions in the brain. So get out there and run or take up yoga. It will pay off physically and mentally.
Lastly, a very fun and invigorating way to sharpen the brain can be done through cognitive training. Crossword puzzles, math games, and other resources available—such as web-based programs, like Lumosity—are all easily accessible ways to train your brain. According to Lumosity, a simple 3-5 days a week of training is all that is recommended for cognitive growth.
While we all can’t be the fictitious character Eddie Morra, from “Limitless”—who can teach himself how to play the piano at a mastery level in just 45 minutes—we can sharpen our brains and continue to develop them through practical measures, such as sleep, exercise and cognitive training. Exercising the brain is a worthwhile pursuit and can reap benefits for you, as you grow older and take on the ever-changing world we live in.
Photo courtesy of Sebastian Kaulitzki/Shutterstock