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Brain Boosters To Test Your Brain

Having trouble remembering where you left your keys? Or where you even parked your car? If you’re feeling scatterbrained, you’re not alone. As we get older, our brains become more “noisy”, and are not as good at registering new information. When was the last time you spent time focusing on brain boosters to keep your grey matter in top condition?

For years, scientists believed that we were stuck with the brain we were born with. But this was proved wrong by neuroplasticity; a theory that proves our brains have the ability to change. The more you use and test your brain, the better it will perform.

Try something new

When you experience something ‘new’ that actually stimulates and changes the structure of your brain. It creates new neural pathways, increasing your intelligence level. Take a different route to the supermarket, read a section of the newspaper you usually skip, try a different recipe for dinner, learn a new language, or even try a new form of exercise. Speaking of exercise…

Get off the couch

It’s been proven that regular exercise helps to increase brain function and enhances neurogenesis. This means that every time you exercise you are creating new brain cells. Any form of exercise increases your heart rate, which gets blood flowing to your brain, thus keeping your memory sharp. That means a few exercise sessions will be highly beneficial as brain boosters as well as improving your physical health.

Train your memory

If you discipline yourself to memorise phone numbers and other important numbers (passport, credit card, insurance, driving license) you will start to see a marked improvement in your memory. Games such as scrabble and Sudoku puzzles are great brain boosters because they can assist cognitive function leading to better memory.

You are what you eat

Our diets have a huge impact on brain function. Our brains consume over 20% of all nutrients and oxygen that we consume – so remember to feed your brain with the healthy foods, such as fresh fruit and veg. It is also important to drink at least eight glasses of water a day, as dehydration can lead to memory loss and confusion.

Choose green leafy vegetables, low-fat protein sources like fish, whole grains, mushrooms, magnesium-rich nuts, seeds, eggs, antioxidant-rich berries, avocados and tomatoes. A study in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry suggests that blueberries’ wealth of anthocyanins (the antioxidants that create the blue tone) foster neuron-to-neuron communication in the brain. Fish oils contains DHA, an omega-3 fatty acid, which helps improve your brain power by encouraging the growth of neurons.

Keep your nose in a book

Reading provides a form of escapism which can be great for your mental health. Research has also shown that using your imagination is a great way to train your brain because you force your mind to ‘picture’ what you are reading. When you read, you also learn new words and process new information, which challenges and stimulates your brain.

Ditch the technology occasionally

Gone are the days of map reading. GPS devices may have made our lives easier, but it has also made our brains lazier and less efficient. Go back to the old school and use a map to navigate every now and then (this exercises the part of your brain responsible for understanding spatial relationships).

Aromatherapy

The next time you need to train your brain, consider using the practice of aromatherapy to increase your productivity. Rosemary is said to help mental clarity and alertness, or peppermint/ basil oil can help to reduce mental fatigue and enhance your mind’s innate ability to focus. You can use diffusers to aerate the oil or directly apply some essential oils to the skin to reap their benefits.

So what about those puzzles we mentioned?

Regardless where you fall on the mental fitness metre, you will stay sharper as you age by doing some basic brain-training – but there are some rules:

  • Challenge yourself. Be sure you’re solving puzzles at the right level. If you’re breezing through puzzles, you need to move up to a higher, more challenging level.
  • Use it or lose it.Your mind muscle needs a daily workout. Challenging your mind each day with puzzles helps to maintain your mental acuity.
  • Work a variety of puzzles.Try different types of puzzles. Experiment with crossword puzzles, Sudoku, brainteasers and word puzzles that can keep your mind working in different ways.

Try These Puzzles to Tickle Your Brain Cells

All answers are at the end of the page – no cheating!

What’s Missing?

A 3-letter-word has been taken out of each of the following words. Can you figure it out?

ECL_ _ _
F_ _ _Y
REP_ _ _
H_ _ _DO

Mental Pictures

For each item in the list below, close your eyes and try to get a mental picture of the object. Try to make it as clear as possible. Are there any sounds, smells or tastes associated with this item?

  • A red rose
  • Your father
  • A cow wearing pants
  • Elvis Presley
  • The world’s biggest sandwich

Once you are done, grade yourself on how clear each object appeared in your mind (clear, vague, nothing). The next time you see one of these items, pay special attention to it and try to memorise its features, then repeat this exercise and see if you’ve improved.

There are some items in the list that you are certain to have never seen before. These are designed to flex your ability to put several memories together into one image.

Opposite Hand

Try doing something that you don’t normally do with your non-dominant hand. Try brushing your teeth, eating lunch, dialling the telephone, or flipping a coin. By doing this exercise, you are giving the opposite side of your brain a chance to perform this activity. A right-handed person will always be using the left side of their brain and the other side will never get a chance to learn how to do certain activities. Allowing the non-dominate side of the brain to do activities it doesn’t normally do will quickly create all sorts of new associations in that part of the mind. This is an easy exercise and it has excellent results.

Hidden Words

Hidden below are eight, 7 letter words.
Each word begins with the central S and you can move one letter in any direction to the next letter.
All of the letters are each used exactly once.

What are the words?

G N L K R T E
E I E O X A E
K R N I H M N
E A Y S E A P
R E P P A W O
N E A G U E O
R N E S A D E

Answers:

What’s Missing?

  • AIR
  • ECLAIR
  • FAIRY
  • REPAIR
  • HAIRDO

Hidden Words

Sixteen, shampoo, seaweed, sausage, spanner, speaker, syringe, snorkel.

Puzzles sourced from: dummies.com/games/puzzles