Saturday, January 3, 2009

5 Steps to Boosting Brain Performance

My hope is to share informative articles that I find that are relative to children, with Parents who may be interested in being interactive with their child.
Whenever possible I will also quote the source.
I am in no way suggesting these articles originate from me.
They are for information purposes only.

5 Steps to Boosting Brain Performance

Sleep More
During sleep our brains release growth hormones essential to growth, development and alertness. We should aim for an optimum of between 8.2 and 8.5 hours of sleep each night according to Charles Czeisler, Professor of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School.

Getting a full night’s sleep will enhance your cognitive performance. But even quick power naps can help you with tasks that require sustained attention and concentration. Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Buckminster Fuller were all avid nappers?

Feed Your Brain
The brain relies on little biochemical messengers called neurotransmitters to make mental connections. Some foods help your neurotransmitters work better while others slow them down. Starting your day with a protein-packed breakfast full of vitamins is the key to powering up your brain. Try eggs and whole wheat toast or fruit and yogurt.

Did you know that the brain is almost 60 percent fat? This means that it can easily get clogged up with trans-fats that will slow you down. So stay away from processed foods, refined sugars, and alcohol. Keep your brain well-oiled with Omega 3 Fatty Acids and DHA such as those found in fish, flax oil, olive oil, avocados and almonds.

Get Physical
A recent UK study found that schoolchildren who exercise four times a week get higher grades on exams than those that don't. This is because aerobic activity boosts the flow of oxygen to the brain and this extra oxygen helps promote rapid growth of new brain cells. Scientists used to think that we were born with a finite set of brain cells that slowly decrease over our lifetime. But another recent study showed that even adults can grow new brain cells and that one of the best ways of doing so is exercising.

So when you tire of studying get out there and get your blood pumping. It’s not only good for your heart and your hips, but it’s also good for your brain!

Learn Something New
Seeking out new skills and experiences keeps your brain fit. Learning a new language or increasing your vocabulary will keep neurotransmitters functioning and growing at their best. Even immersing yourself in new experiences like engaging other cultures when traveling or meeting new friends is good for your noodle.

Challenging your mind may feel difficult, but the harder something is for the brain the better it is. Flex your mental muscles now and it will pay off in the long run.

Change a habit
If you normally brush your teeth with your right hand, change to your left for a few days. This may sound strange but it will make you smarter. This is because changing sensory input patterns helps activate new neural pathways in the brain. For example, a recent study showed that London taxi drivers have more developed areas of their brains due to their need to navigate a complex maze of city streets.

Try taking a different route to school or work and make your brain bigger. Or walk around your house or yard with a blindfold on and make yourself smarter—just be careful not to bump your head!

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