If you are seeking to increase how smart you are there are two broad approaches you can take for the most effect.
Intelligence increasing activities
Dual n back – If you are looking for a fun and free way to improve your intelligence dual n back is a great tool. The best part is it is totally free. In a recent study it was shown that dual n back memory training increased the following:
- Fluid intelligence – this is the ability to learn new information without utilizing previous knowledge. In other words, a very important marker of overall intelligence.
- Working Memory – this is basically your short term memory.
The bottom line is that this definitely works, I use it a few times per week for fun. I have seen an increase in both problem solving skills, especially the ease with which I can get into the “flow” as well as simple things like names, numbers and grocery items. Even better, unlike various memory techniques, I don’t really have to try…it just works.
Sleep – I harp on this one all the time and for good reason. If you aren’t getting enough sleep, no matter how good your diet, or memory training or supplements and vitamins, you will be under performing. Sleep is when our body resets our hormonal processes, repairs itself and forms memories.
One example of this hormonal process involves cortisol. Cortisol is a stress hormone. Chronic stress has been shown to negatively impact the Hippocampus an extremely important part of the brain associated with converting short term memory into long term memory. The good new is that sleep helps regulate and lower cortisol levels. So get your sleep, regulate the bodily hormones and give your brain a break.
Crosswords, Puzzles & Sudoku – Working out your brain with challenging but fun games consistently is a great way to stay mentally sharp. Do you have a great aunt or grandparents that are still very sharp despite being very old? I bet you they regularly exercise their minds with games. It’s fun, it’s cheap and it works. Don’t be mentally lazy.
Intelligence increasing drugs/supplements
There are a lot of so called “smart drugs” or “nootropics” that have been shown to be extremely helpful to increase intelligence, learning ability, cognitive function, verbal skills and much more. Many of these drugs are extremely safe, well studied, effective and inexpensive.
So why then haven’t you heard of them?
A few reasons:
- Expired patents – Once a drug or supplement patent expires the price drops dramatically. As a result they are no longer heavily marketed, studied or promoted to doctors or other health care information providers. There is little financial incentive to get these substances to the people that need them most.
- Drugs approved for disease – When a drug is being studied to determine whether or not it is effective it is almost never done on a healthy population. Drugs are intended to treat disease. Smart drugs, while they have been shown to work extremely well for cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s, also work extremely well for healthy individuals and it is not within the standard medical paradigm to promote drugs to healthy individuals seeking to enhance their cognitive function.
Some of the most popular, safest and widely used smart drugs include Piracetam and Choline. The exact mechanism of action is unknown but both of these smart drugs have been widely studied, used and tested with very little toxicity.