5 at-home tips to boost your brainpower

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1. Stay Social 

In a time where face-to-face social interaction is at its lowest, it’s important to remain social, not only for fun, but for your brain. Whether it’s having a household games night or catching up with friends on a video chat, being social has been shown to improve and help preserve memory functions. Conducted between 1998 and 2004, subjects who were more ‘socially integrated’ showed higher scores on memory tests conducted every two years.

2. Get lost in fiction 

Burying your head in a textbook will help grow your crystalline intelligence and gain knowledge. However, poking your nose into a work of fiction is believed to improve your emotional intelligence. Immersing yourself in books filled with detail, allusion and metaphors activates the same regions of the brain that would be simulated in real-life situations. Reading moral dilemmas in fiction, for example, is known to exercise the brain and increase our capacity for empathy.

3. Drink green tea

How much difference can a cup of green tea make to the brain? Well, a long-term study published in the science journal Experimental Gerontology has found that a chemical compound found in green tea called catechin might be able to reduce cerebral atrophy – loss of brain cells – and function. The study used mouse subjects over 12 months and discovered that green tea catechin effectively suppressed atrophy, along with improving brain function in the brains of older mice subjects.

4. Stay Active

Keeping up with regular exercise can keep your mind sharp as well as helping you stay fit. Studies have found that those that regularly exercise have bigger thinking and memory regions of their brains. Regular exercise has also been found to reduce the body’s level of insulin resistance, stress and inflammation, along with promoting the release of chemicals that promote the growth of new blood vessels in the brain. However, one of the most immediate ways exercise can help the brain is by reducing stress. This is achieved by regulating your body’s stress hormone, called cortisol. High levels of cortisol in the body have been found to negatively impact the way we think and our memory.

5. Learn to play an instrument

It might be time to dust off that guitar that’s tucked away in the attic or pick up that recorder for the first time since school to help improve your cognitive function. Other than acquiring a new skill, learning to play an instrument has been found to engage almost all parts of the brain and improves language and cognitive skills.

This article was originally published in How It Works issue 139

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