How to be smarter: 10 science-backed tips

How to be smarter: 10 science-backed tips

Intelligence is not a monolithic ability but it varies over the years. In fact, when we are young we have a more fluid intelligence and with the passing of the years, in adulthood and in the third age, we develop a crystallized intelligence, which is fundamentally based on the experience we have accumulated and the training we have acquired.

This means that intelligence can be developed. Although it includes a genetic component, its development is also influenced by the environment, an environment rich in stimuli, which constantly presents us with new challenges, will help to improve intelligence. Of course, our attitude is also very important: to solve a problem it is not enough to persevere but it is essential to remain open to different perspectives.

Science shows how to be smarter

If you are wondering how to be smarter you must know that the first step is to expand the concept of intelligence. Intelligence is basically the ability to solve problems, this means that it can be appreciated in different areas of life and is not limited to science, as is commonly thought. An intelligent person is one who finds a good solution in interpersonal conflict, is able to understand why he is feeling badly emotionally or can express a powerful message through the written word or images.

1. Open yourself to new ideas

Intelligence often goes hand in hand with creativity. Therefore, to develop it it is essential to remain open to new ideas, and the further they move away from conventional thinking, the better. This is confirmed by a study carried out by the London School of Economics and Political Science, according to which conservative people showed an average IQ of 95 points, while those who declared themselves very liberal showed an IQ of 106 points. Of course, political orientation has nothing to do with it, the key is openness to experiences. A mind open to novelty is a more active mind.

2. Learn another language

Learning is a stimulus for the brain and a kind of fertilizer for intelligence. In fact, a study conducted at Georgetown University Medical Center revealed that bilingual people have a greater volume of gray matter in the frontal and parietal lobes, the areas of the brain involved in executive control. Gray matter is made up of cells whose function is to process information and facilitate reasoning, which is why it has been related to intelligence and the ability to solve problems.

3. Read more

There are infinite types of reading, but not all of them are effective for stimulating intelligence. In fact, “light” contents do not contribute anything. On the contrary, the readings that promote reflection or a good novel that allows us to identify with the characters, guarantee many benefits. A study conducted at Emory University revealed that a good novel acts as a kind of "massage" for neurons and the effect continues even when the book is closed. Indeed, deep reading activates different brain areas, not only those related to word processing, but also the default neural network, which is exactly the one that has been related to ingenious solutions and intuition.

4. Meditate

Meditation is extremely beneficial for the brain. This practice not only promotes relaxation, but also improves attention, memory and enhances intelligence. A study conducted at the University of California found that people who practiced meditation one hour a week for 3 months showed significant improvement in cognitive tests, far more than those who had undergone a brain training program. Neuroscientists also found that people who meditated showed a better level of communication between different areas of the brain, especially those related to memory, attention and communication.

5. Change your habits

Habits save time, but they play against us if the goal is to improve intelligence. Habits make the brain work automatically and strengthen existing neural connections. But some mental flexibility is needed to solve problems, and this is achieved by creating new connections. In fact, research carried out at the University of Sydney found that there is a relationship between neural plasticity and intelligence. To improve neural plasticity it is necessary to look for new stimuli. For example, you can change your way to work, brush your teeth with the opposite hand, or just try new flavors. The idea is to challenge ourselves to find new ways of doing things, and thus to expand our mind.

6. Get the apprentice mentality

If you want to be smarter, don't deny yourself any idea, however absurd it may seem. In fact, the most ingenious solutions have emerged precisely by combining apparently unrelated ideas. Therefore, it is essential not to entrench oneself in the role of an expert. In this regard, a study conducted at Cornell University revealed that when people consider themselves to be experts in a certain field, they are more likely to be closed-minded in that area. This is because they think they can't learn anything new about it. But in this way they do nothing but close to new discoveries and the most up-to-date perspectives, which are precisely those that represent a challenge for intelligence.

7. Get enough sleep

Sleep is essential for your brain. In fact, recently neuroscience has discovered that during sleep the brain gets rid of metabolic waste products. Therefore, lack of sleep affects memory, attention and thinking. In fact, it has been found that when a person goes through a sleepless night it is as if his brain desperately “pumped” energy towards the prefrontal cortex, in order to be able to think. Furthermore, a study conducted at the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine-4 in Germany found that the brains of people who sleep little change, and these changes produce cognitive instability. As if that weren't enough, adequate sleep removes emotional impact from problems, so that the next day the mind will be fresher and the solution will be found more easily.

8. Speak out loud

If you need to solve a problem, a good strategy is to speak for yourself. Psychologists at the University of Illinois asked a group of people to try to motivate themselves while solving some anagrams, some having to do it mentally and others by speaking out loud. People who spoke loudly alone not only solved more anagrams, but were also more satisfied with their performance. This is due to the fact that when a task is difficult it is easier to find a solution if the thought is translated into words. This is why children often speak loudly when doing homework or trying to solve a problem.

9. Go out for a run

How to be smarter? Going out for a run! Harvard University neuroscientists ran some people for about 30 minutes while others did some stretching exercises. In this way they found that running increases blood flow to the frontal lobes, which are involved not only in problem solving and decision making, but also help to better control emotions, which is why running clears the mind.

10. Rest

Both mental stress and physical fatigue affect the ability to solve problems and find good solutions. In fact, research carried out by the University of Texas revealed that when a person is exhausted the prefrontal cortex functions at half its normal capacity because it significantly decreases blood flow to these areas of the brain. This means that your ideas will become confused and it will be more difficult to pay attention to things and make good decisions. Therefore, a good strategy for developing intelligence is to get enough rest before running out of energy.


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