Are you seeking new ways to boost your cognitive ability?
No matter your age, chances are that you want to get a more robust, brighter, and a sharper brain. It’s a great goal to work towards and can ensure lifelong cognitive health and strength. Your career and general performance will improve, and you’ll be at lower risk of neurodegenerative disorders.
It can be hard to find out exactly how your brainpower can be improved. After all, you can’t see what’s going on in your head, so you have to rely on what you know can work. To help you with that task, here are four positive ways to boost your cognitive ability.
1. Boost Your Cognitive Ability By Training Your Sense Of Direction
Many people claim to have a poor sense of direction, but that’s a skill that can be trained! Having a good sense of direction and using that sense will let you engage various brain regions. Being able to navigate easily is a sign of mental sharpness. Here are some ways to train that sense of direction for the sake of cognitive ability.
In our modern world, using a GPS to get everywhere is pretty standard. Not to sound old-fashioned, but what happened to the old days of remembering your commute without help? Turn the GPS off whenever you go to familiar places and rely on your memory. It’s okay if you get lost the first few times – you’ll get used to it, and your brain will be stronger for it! When going to new places, it’s okay to use a GPS first, but then try to find your way home without it later. It might also be better to try using a physical map, memorizing the route that way, and then going without a GPS. You can also do your best to figure out the right way without any help if that’s safe and feasible. Whatever difficulty level you prefer, you’ll be training your brain!
· Take New Routes To Old Places
Repetitive daily tasks and activities don’t have to be the same way each time. Try training yourself by switching up your commute. There are often many different ways to get to the same place, so take new roads and commit them to memory. Once you’ve learned all the possible routes, rotate between them and use a different one each time you go out. Studies have found that changing up these routes during your travel can provide tons of benefits to cognitive ability. You can also try changing your mode of transportation regularly. Regardless, variety is your friend!
· Draw Maps From Memory
Challenge yourself to draw maps of familiar places in detail. Don’t look up any information. Just grab a piece of paper and sketch them out! Try to make specific landmarks, and major streets are included and do your best to get them accurately. Then, after that, obtain an accurate map of the location and compare it to your rendition. You can continue doing this again and again whenever you go somewhere new. Start with more manageable tasks, like a map of your neighborhood, and work your way up. Eventually, you’ll be able to challenge yourself to draw maps of places you’ve only been to once or twice!
2. Boost Your Cognitive Ability By Playing Games and Solve Puzzles
Boosting cognitive ability doesn’t have to be all about severe and complex tasks. You can have fun while you do it! There are many ways to improve your mental capabilities through puzzles, games, and other fun things. Here are some suggestions backed by science:
Card games can increase the volume of different brain portions, says research. You may also improve your thinking skills and overall memory. So games like gin rummy, crazy eights, solitaires, hearts, bridge, and poker all work! Memory-based card games are also an excellent choice for even more memory-related boosts.
Playing checkers can help to increase brain volume! It’s a cognitively stimulating game, and research shows that it can boost cognitive health. Other similar board games, like chess, may have a similar effect, too.
· Jigsaw Puzzles
Studies say that these kinds of puddles help visuospatial cognitive abilities. This means that it allows you to challenge your brain by training it to visualize and connect pieces into a larger space. Puzzles that challenge you are ideal, but even 100-piece ones can have benefits! These positive effects include improved levels of mental rotation, reasoning, working memory, and perception.
· Video Games
Few people realize just how great video games can be for your brain! Strategy, action, and puzzle genres of video games can be great for cognitive ability, says research. These games can improve mental flexibility, attention and focus, and even the ability to solve problems. Tetris is a perfect option, improving gray matter in the brain shortly after you play it!
· Sudoku Puzzles
Sudoku is a great way to maintain sharpness and build on cognitive abilities. Number-based puzzles of any kind are ideal challenges, say studies.
· Crossword Puzzles
These puzzles are great for protecting memory and cognitive sharpness, especially as you age. This is according to studies on those with preclinical dementia, but it’s presumed to apply to all ages and health levels.
It’s easy to forget that physical health and brain health are directly linked. After all, the brain is an organ in your body! One of the most positive ways to boost cognitive ability is through exercise.
It Increases Brain Cells
It’s believed that exercise can promote neurogenesis, according to preliminary research. Neurogenesis is the formation of new brain cells, which is essential for cognitive ability.
It Makes You Smarter
Suppose you’re looking for ways to boost your intelligence, exercise! Studies show that it can prevent the shrinkage of the brain, keeping you sharp and cognitively capable.
It Improves All Neuropsychiatric Function
The various cognitive functions you have can all be improved by exercise, say studies. Physical activity boosts motor coordination, memory, and even cognition!
While typical exercise, like jogging or lifting weights, can be an excellent physical activity, you can opt for many other choices. There are even some specific forms of interesting exercise that have additional benefits to cognitive ability. Here are some of them:
The benefits of sports span beyond just the ones that come from physical activity. Some sports are additionally cognitively challenging, requiring multitasking and sustained attention. They may also require constant adaptability or the ability to plan on the fly. Research shows that elite athletes in sports that are high-demand have better cognitive processing speed and higher attention rates.
Dance is an excellent option for those looking to exercise in a more fun way. The parts of your brain involved in balance and rhythm will be engaged and kept sharp. In fact, you can improve your memory, organization, and planning skills when you follow choreographed dances.
· Tai Chi
Have you ever heard of tai chi? This Chinese form of exercise involves the use of rhythmic breathing, gentle motion, and meditation. It’s fantastic for mental health, sleep, stress levels, and positive thinking, but it has other effects. Studies show that practicing this exercise leads to long-term brain volume increase by restructuring the brain entirely. Additional research indicates that tai chi practitioners form connectivity in enhanced ways between brain regions. Indeed, some theorize that this boosts cognitive ability and can also help memory.
4. Continually Challenge Yourself To Boost Your Cognitive Ability
Novel experiences and new challenges are the cruces of cognitive strength. Your abilities in that department only degrade when you stop engaging them. The brain requires regular challenges to continue getting stronger. This means you have to seek novel and challenging things to try regularly. Studies have shown that novel challenges:
· Increase Plasticity
Plasticity is the brain’s ability to form connections quickly between different regions through neurons. The amount of information that you’re capable of taking in is determined by plasticity. To retain new information, your brain has to be used to regular novel challenges.
· Form New Connections
The synaptic connections formed by novel challenges are intense! The references are capable of boosting cognitive activity by building up on top of each other. So the more connections you have, the more new relationships you form. This is how people learn things and take in additional information when faced with a novel challenge.
· Boost Positive Hormones
Dopamine is a feel-good hormone that boosts your motivation and makes you feel great. When you seek novel challenges, your body releases this hormone in abundance. On top of that, the dopamine released increases new brain cell growth or neurogenesis, so your cognitive ability gets more substantial.
So, how can you challenge yourself in novel ways that will best improve cognitive ability? The trick is to simply never stop learning with positive thinking. Research proves that learning new skills is central to maintaining and building cognitive ability. Here are some suggestions for methods that have additional positive mental effects!
· Build Vocabulary
Learning to develop a more extensive lexicon via vocabulary tasks can provide additional benefits, say studies. You’ll be better at auditory and visual processing and will gain many new words to commit to memory. Besides, if you want to sound smart in addition to being cognitively strong, vocabulary is a great way to do it. Try keeping a notebook with you while you read and writing down unfamiliar words. Then, try to actively use that word according to its definition five times that day!
· Learn A Language
Done with building your vocabulary? Kick it up a notch by learning a whole new language. Tons of research has shown that being able to speak more than one language fluently is highly beneficial to your cognition! You’ll enjoy improved memory, creativity, visual-spatial skills, task-switching ability, and general cognitive function. Already bilingual? Nothing wrong with adding a new language to that list!
· Learn A Musical Instrument
When you play musical instruments, you train your brain in coordination and cognitive development. Research shows that people of all ages can reap mental rewards from playing instruments!
You’ll gain the most benefits from these new, novel challenges by remaining open to various experiences. Studies show that being engaged with these challenges and genuinely wanting to participate in them is key to improving the brain. This challenge provides way more benefits than just doing something challenging for the sake of it. Being engaged and choosing something that challenges you is central to the boost you seek!
Cognitive ability is something that can be trained and honed. However, by training your sense of direction, playing puzzles and games, exercising, and performing novel challenges, your brain will gain sharpness and strength. The best thing you can do for your brain is to keep improving it, so get to it!