Training Your Brain: Positive Ways to Increase Your Cognitive Abilities
Nowadays, with everything we could ever want to know in the palm of our hands in seconds, we would love to be able to learn with that same speed. Unfortunately, it’s not possible—at least not yet. But by training your brain, you can significantly improve your cognitive abilities without waiting for technology to allow us to learn without doing anything.
When we talk about “building up” our brains, we should understand it metaphorically. Because the brain is not a muscle. On the other hand, it is an organ that has a certain plasticity. That is, it is capable of learning new skills—hard or soft—by creating new neuronal connections.
The False Good Ideas
To really learn new skills, you need to properly train your brain. Generally, the brain becomes efficient at a task it has been trained for. This is how memory champions can temporarily retain lists of 500 phone numbers and recite them almost immediately, but they can also forget their best friend’s birthday. In this example, the first exercise requires only working memory, whereas remembering a birthday requires both working memories to commit it to memory, and semantic memory to remember it in the long term.
Getting our brains used to clicking as quickly as possible on colored shapes or spelling out words does not make us any better at doing arithmetic or crosswords. Repeatedly training your brain to do a particular task does not, therefore, improve our memory skills in general, our intellectual abilities, or our IQ. Games and language learning can be a great way to increase cognitive abilities.
5 Ways to Increase Your Cognitive Abilities
Puzzles or Riddles
As well as intriguing and entertaining you, they will train your cognitive functions in a very effective way. While training your brain, puzzles improve short-term and long-term memory, cognitive flexibility, mental rotation, and visual-spatial perception. When we do a puzzle, we significantly improve our cerebral, visual, and spatial skills while relaxing.
Chess or Checkers
This is a very complete game that mobilizes both hemispheres of our brain. Like checkers, chess helps develop spatial reasoning, problem solving, anticipation, and deduction. Games of chance, such as poker and roulette, have the same benefits. You can find them on live casino sites, and you can easily find checkers and chess games on the internet if you don’t have a partner.
Crosswords or Sudokus
Crosswords improve our verbal skills by working on spelling, verbal reasoning, and writing, while sudokus allow us to work on our logic, spatial and numerical reasoning.
Juggling and Magic Tricks
To improve procedural memory, i.e. the implicit long-term memory that allows automatic motor skills (automaticity of certain gestures in particular), certain types of games can be very interesting. This is the case of juggling, for example.
Whether you’re learning Spanish, German, or Mandarin, you’re using many skills:
- Your inhibitory abilities to mute your native language when speaking the new language.
- Your long-term semantic memory;
- Inferential and analogical reasoning – that is, the ability to solve a never-before-posed problem by deduction or by using solutions to a similar problem;
- Verbal skills, active listening skills, and even social skills in contexts where the new language is used
It has been shown that people who speak several languages are more resistant to Alzheimer’s disease.
To keep your brain healthy, you need a certain amount of complexity. The more intellectually challenging the activity, the more beneficial it is for your neurons in the long run. And therefore, the more efficiently you become at training your brain.