Food for thought
You are what you eat, and that includes your brain. So what is the ultimate mastermind diet?
First, go to the top of the class by eating breakfast. The brain is best fuelled by a
Beans are also a good source of fibre, and other research has shown a link A smart choice for lunch is omelette and salad. Eggs are rich in choline, which your A salad packed full of antioxidants, including beta-carotene and vitamins C and E, should also help keep an ageing brain in tip-top condition by helping to mop up damaging free radicals.
The Mozart effect
Music may tune up your thinking, but you can’t just crank up the volume and expect to become a genius
Put your mind to work in the right way and it could repay you with an impressive bonus
Working memory is the brain’s short-term information storage system. It’s a workbench for solving mental problems. For example if you calculate 73 – 6 + 7, your working memory will store the intermediate steps necessary to work out the answer. And the amount of information that the working memory can hold is strongly related to general intelligence.
“Working memory training could be the key to unlocking brain power”
Mind like a sieve? Don’t worry. The difference between mere mortals and memory champs is more method than mental capacity
First, learn a trick from the “mnemonists” who routinely memorise strings of thousands of digits, entire epic poems, or hundreds of unrelated words. When
Sleep on it
Never underestimate the power of a good night’s rest
Say you’re trying to master a new video game. Instead of grinding away into the small hours, you would be better off playing for a couple of hours, then going to bed. While you are asleep your brain will reactivate the circuits it was using as you learned the game, rehearse them, and then shunt the new memories into long-term storage.
When you wake up, hey presto! You will be a better player. The same applies to other skills such as playing the piano, driving a car and, some researchers claim, memorising facts and figures. Even taking a nap after training can help, says Carlyle Smith of Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario.
Body and mind
Physical exercise can boost brain as well as brawn
And the effect works both ways. Just as physical exercise can boost the brain, mental exercise can boost the body. In 2001, researchers at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation in Ohio asked volunteers to spend just 15 minutes a day thinking about exercising their biceps. After 12 weeks, their arms were 13 per cent stronger.
Nuns on a run
If you don’t want senility to interfere with your old age, perhaps you should seek some sisterly guidance
To avoid dementia, your general health may be vital: metabolic problems, small strokes and head injuries seem to be common triggers of Alzheimer’s dementia.
Obviously, you don’t have to become a nun to stay mentally agile. We can all aspire to these kinds of improvements. As one of the sisters put it, “Think no evil, do no evil, hear no evil, and you will never write a best-selling novel.”
You can be smart, well-read, creative and knowledgeable, but none of it is any use if your mind isn’t on the job
One way to do this is with drugs such as amphetamines and the ADHD drug methylphenidate, better known as Ritalin. Caffeine also works. But if you prefer the drug-free approach, the best strategy is to sleep well, eat foods packed with slow-release sugars, and take lots of exercise. It also helps if you are trying to focus on something that you find interesting.
The second step is to cut down on distractions. Workplace studies have found that it takes up to 15 minutes to regain a deep state of concentration after a distraction such as a phone call. Just a few such interruptions and half the day is wasted.
Music can help as long as you listen to something familiar and soothing that serves primarily to drown out background noise. Psychologists also recommend that you avoid working near potential diversions, such as the fridge.
Thought control is easier than you might imagine