10 things you can do right now to make your brain sharper
How can we keep our brains in top form? Here are some powerful activities you can do immediately.
What can you do to make your brain work better, especially as you age? Science has a lot to say on this topic. Here’s a list of some things you can do right now, after you finish reading this article (in itself a brain exercise):
1. Stop multi-tasking - it’s actually impossible for your brain to fully multitask, as show a number of studies, according to neuroscientist Daniel Levitin. If you do a number things at once, your brain will not keep them all fully in its attention. Instead, it will focus on one thing at a time, giving it a little bit of attention before moving on to another thing and so on. Multitasking will “fractionate” your concentration, deplete your neural resources, tire you out, and you probably won’t get any of those things done as well as if you just paid attention to them one at a time.
2. Read a book - not only is it a no-brainer that reading can increase your fluid and emotional intelligence, researchers also found that reading creates new white matter in the brain, which helps system-wide communication. This aids the brain in processing information with more efficiency.
3. Meditate - recent studies demonstrate that meditation not only relieves stress but actually changes your brain. And the kind of meditation you practice affects the kind of changes your brain experiences.
4. Do weightlifting - research shows that pumping iron at least twice a week can make your brain work better and prevent dementia, especially if you are older.
5. Start learning another language - scientists found that bilingual people have a specific “advantage” because they use less brain power to accomplish tasks, helping their brains age better. A Canadian study showed that people who spoke two languages processed information more economically, using up less brain circuitry. Plus, being multilingual will likely make you more open to other cultures, making travel more fun.
6. Play chess - studies show that chess players have improved pattern recognition, use both sides of the brain to make decisions and the brains of top players exhibit neural efficiency. Chess is also good for improving your memory skills as the game forces you to keep a lot of variables and possibilities in mind at all times.
7. Eat with chopsticks - if you are not doing it already, this simple switch of utensils can grow new dendrites - branches of nerve cells. This will improve communication between brain cells, says neurobiologist Lawrence Katz in his book “Keep Your Brain Alive” which has 83 brain exercises for improving mental fitness. Eating with chopsticks will force you to eat more mindfully - good not only for your brain, but digestion and calorie consumption.
8. Think positively - learning to think positively can literally rewire your brain. Scientists proved that if you consciously alter your thought processes through practices like mindfulness, you can make your brain shift from right-side thinking to the left. You will also be less anxious, have more energy and be happier overall.
9. Go dancing - research indicates that dancing might speed up the brain’s processing speed due to its unique combination of cognitive, physical and social activity. This might also slow the effects of aging and grow new white matter more than walking or stretching.
10. Get some sleep - numerous studies showed how the lack of sleep can lead to a host of illnesses like heart disease, diabetes, depression and trigger seizures. It will also negatively affect your memory and thinking. Not getting enough shut-eye can also lead to crucial mistakes. You will have “cognitive lapses,” says Dr. Fried, whose study demonstrated that neurons can’t function properly if you don’t sleep well.
Dominique Crenn, the only female chef in America with three Michelin stars, joins Big Think Live this Thursday at 1pm ET.
Scientists discover the inner workings of an effect that will lead to a new generation of devices.
- Researchers discover a method of extracting previously unavailable information from superconductors.
- The study builds on a 19th-century discovery by physicist Edward Hall.
- The research promises to lead to a new generation of semiconductor materials and devices.
Credit: Gunawan/Nature magazine
Students who think the world is just cheat less, but they need to experience justice to feel that way.
- Students in German and Turkish universities who believed the world is just cheated less than their pessimistic peers.
- The tendency to think the world is just is related to the occurence of experiences of justice.
- The findings may prove useful in helping students adjust to college life.
The world is just? That’s news to a lot of people.<p>The study is the most recent addition to a long line of work focusing on the belief in justice, our behavior, and our reactions to evidence that might suggest injustice occasionally occurs. This study focuses on a personal belief in a just world, (PBJW) rather than a general belief in a just world (GBJW). The difference between them must be highlighted.</p><p>GBJW is the stance that justice prevails all over the world and that people tend to get what they deserve. PBJW is more focused on the individual's social environment and their belief that they tend to be treated justly. While several studies show PBJW correlates with a higher sense of well-being and a variety of other positive effects, a high GBJW is associated with less life satisfaction, negative behavior, and callousness towards the suffering of <a href="https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2F978-1-4939-3216-0" target="_blank">others</a>. This study controlled for GBJW, and focused on PBJW as much as possible. </p><p>To assure that culture was not a factor, the study included students at universities in both Germany and Turkey. </p><p>The researchers gave students at the four participating universities a series of questionnaires that asked if they ever cheated in class, if they perceived the world to be just, if they though that justice always prevailed everywhere, their tendencies towards socially appropriate behavior, their life satisfaction, and if they felt like they were treated justly by their teachers and fellow students. </p><p>The answers were statistically analyzed for relationships. While some of the connections seem trivially true, others were surprising. <strong></strong></p><p>PBJW turned out to only be an indirect predictor of if a student was likely to cheat. Both a belief in a just world and a lower likelihood of cheating were mediated by the justice experiences of the students, with more of these positive experiences lowering the rate of cheating and improving their belief in justice. This was also associated with higher levels of life satisfaction. </p><p>These effects existed across all demographics in both countries. </p>
What does this mean? Is a belief in justice a self-fulfilling prophecy?<iframe width="730" height="430" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6oMv-azHNCA" frameborder="0" allow="accelerometer; autoplay; clipboard-write; encrypted-media; gyroscope; picture-in-picture" allowfullscreen></iframe><p>In a way, it seems to be. People who have reason to think the world is just to them tend to interpret events in a way to sustain that belief and behave in a just manner. In a larger sense, the take away from this study is that experiences of justice, both from peers and instructors, is vital to student's wellbeing and understanding that the rules that exist about cheating are part of a larger, legitimate, system. </p><p>The researchers, citing previous studies on the perception of justice, note that "justice experiences (1) signal that university students are esteemed members of their social group, which in turn conveys feelings of belonging and social inclusion and (2) motivate them to accept and observe university rules and norms. These cognitive processes may thus strengthen their well-being and decrease the likelihood that they cheat."</p><p>The authors also suggest that if you want people (not only students) to act justly; consider treating them with "civility, respect, and dignity."</p><p>Sometimes, all it can take to help somebody act virtuously is to treat them well. Likewise, people treated harshly can rarely find reason to play by rules that don't protect them. The findings of this study will certainly add to the literature on how we perceive justice in the world around us, but might also help us remember that there are real consequences to our actions which can be much larger than we imagine. <strong></strong></p>
This could change how researchers approach vaccine development.
- The reason children suffer less from the novel coronavirus has remained mysterious.
- Researchers identified a cytokine, IL-17A, which appears to protect children from the ravages of COVID-19.
- This cytokine response could change how researchers approach vaccine development.
A member of staff wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) takes a child's temperature at the Harris Academy's Shortland's school on June 04, 2020 in London, England.
Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images<p>Experts don't want to place kids at the back of the line, regardless of how strong their immune systems appear. At least one company, Moderna, <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/coronavirus-vaccine-for-kids-moderna-plans-pediatric-trial-2020-9" target="_blank">hopes to begin testing</a> vaccines in pediatric volunteers by year's end.</p><p>Innate immune response is especially high during childhood (compared to adaptive immunity). This makes evolutionary sense: nature wants an animal to survive until its ready to procreate. Turns out the children in the study possessed high levels of cytokines that boost their immune response. The biggest impact is made by IL-17A, which appears to protect the youngest cohort from the ravages of the coronavirus. </p><p>While both age groups produced antibodies to fight off the infamous spike protein, adults that produce neutralizing antibodies actually suffer a <em>worse</em> fate. Herold says this "over-vigorous adaptive immune response" might promote inflammation, triggering acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). </p><p>This matters for vaccine development. As Herold says, </p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Our adult COVID-19 patients who fared poorly had high levels of neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that convalescent plasma—which is rich in neutralizing antibodies—may not help adults who have already developed signs of ARDS. By contrast, therapies that boost innate immune responses early in the course of the disease may be especially beneficial."</p><p>Herold says current vaccine trials are focused on boosting neutralizing-antibody levels. With this new information, researchers may want to work on vaccines that boost the innate immune response instead. </p><p>With <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/science/coronavirus-vaccine-tracker.html" target="_blank">at least 55 vaccine trials</a> underway, every piece of data matters. </p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>
Researchers from the University of Toronto published a new map of cancer cells' genetic defenses against treatment.