Several discoveries made by science over the past few years suggest that humans have the ability to increase the brain size. This can change life in many ways, from memory development to stimulating the brain to create new neurons. Here are the best 10 methods to develop your brain, literally.
- Practice yoga postures.
Yoga combines breathing, body posture, and meditation, a trio that protects the brain’s integrity and also increases the thickness of the brain cortex.
Brain scans have shown that yoga can change brain chemistry in a positive way. It contributes to better levels of gray matter in brain areas involved in modulation of pain.
The neuroprotective properties of yoga not only prevent the loss of gray matter in the brain, but also seem to increase its volume in certain areas of the brain.
This is important because lower levels of gray matter can lead to memory loss, emotional problems, less pain tolerance, and less cognitive functioning.
In 2015, researchers at McGill University and the National Institutes of Health have found it’s important to practice yoga as frequent as possible.
The longer the practice has been, the more positive changes have been observed in the left hemisphere, namely the increase of some gray matter in the left part of the brain, the left frontal lobe, the right temporal, and the left front orbital cortex.
These areas of the brain are responsible for:
- Movement control
- Cognitive functioning
- Interpersonal experience
- Impulse control
- Social Behavior
- Memory processing
- The decision-making process based on reward and emotion
If you have not practiced yoga for years, do not worry. The brain is constantly changing. The same study revealed that weekly practice hours is correlated with gray matter increase in various areas of the brain, including hippocampus, primary visual cortex, primary somatic parietal lobe, and posterior precune cingulate cortex.
These areas of the brain include functions related to:
- State of consciousness
- The limbic system (emotion adjustment)
It is obvious that juggling increases coordination between hand and eyes, but what happens in the brain during juggling is quite astounding. Juggling increases the volume of gray matter, that part of the brain that contains the body of the nerve cells, but not only that.
Juggle develops that part of the brain that increases cellular connections. In 2009, researchers at the University of Oxford found that juggling increases the white matter of the brain. White matter is made up of parts of the brain that contain especially axons. These are the prolongations of the nerves that serve as cellular connectors.
Study participants practiced juggling half an hour a day for six weeks. Before and after, DTI (tensor diffusion) scans of the brain showed that while the white matter in the brains of those who did not juggle did not change, the jugglers increased their white matter in the parietal lobe of the brain.
Interesting is one thing. The accumulation of white matter has been observed in all jugglers, no matter what degree of mastery. The parietal lobe helps spatial awareness, self-perception, and tactile processing.
Numerous studies show that this practice changes the structure of the brain in a positive way.
In 2011, researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard published a pivotal study which showed that guided meditation and stress reduction via practice awareness of this meditation led to measurable changes in brain areas involved in memory, compassion, and stress.
In fact, the practice of mindfulness meditation for eight weeks to make changes to the brain in a way that MRI scans can detect it. Mindfulness meditation means to become aware of pure reality of each moment, to be present and pay attention to what is happening at a time without judgment.
- Learn to play an instrument (preferably at an early age).
Studying a musical instrument actually increases the size of the brain, with the greatest impact being seen in children who began learning before the age of 7.
Researchers also use music as a method for treating learning disabilities. The results are amazing. Long-term and high-level musical education has created a greater ability for musicians to integrate sensory information from hearing, touch, and vision.
How does it work? As the researchers explain, brain circuits involved in musical improvisations are modeled through systematic exercises, resulting in less dependence on active memory and greater connectivity within the brain.
Some brain changes that occur during musical exercise reflect the automatism of tasks (as when a person repeats the multiplication chart), and the development of cognitive and sensory skills necessary for various aspects of musical expertise.
- Learn something new.
Similar to learning to play an instrument, learning something new is also beneficial for brain’s functions, increasing the brain’s activity.
You can learn a foreign language, a new game (chess, for example), DIY (do it yourself) kind of stuff, or anything you want.
When learning something new, your brain will improve in areas correlated with memory, and if what your learning also involves doing something with your hands (DIY kind of stuff), then the brain will also develop more in areas correlated with the coordination between mind and movements.
- Consume Omega-3 fatty acids.
A 2014 study published in the Journal of Neurology found that the presence of Omega-3 fatty acids in the body is associated with a larger brain.
People with dual levels of Omega-3, DHA and EPA, also had a brain volume of 0.7% higher than those with lower levels of fatty acids.
The high-level of Omega-3 fatty acid also showed a higher hippocampus of 2.7% (the hippocampus responds to memory).
Omega-3 sources of the people who participated in the study were fish oil, like salmon and mackerel, plus supplements.
Fish oil must come from a safe source for consumption.
- Be sexually active.
This evidence will make you think how you can increase your sexual appetite. In an animal study, researchers at the University of Maryland found that sex promotes the formation of new neurons and improves cognitive function. This phenomenon is called neurogenesis.
Other studies show that sex can maintain long-term memory, protecting it during periods of intense stress.
- Do not give up cardio exercises.
Older adults can increase their brain volume in areas that may be affected by aging.
A 2006 baseline study found that regular aerobic exercise significantly increased both white matter and gray matter in the brain. Groups that did stretching and toning exercises did not have the same results.
An animal study has shown that moderate jogging, made daily, generates new neurons.
- Practice the intermittent food abstinence.
Results from previous animal studies have suggested that the intermittent, regularly practiced, food abstinence can thicken certain parts of the brain by stimulating its functions.
The intermittent food abstinence in females becomes an increasingly popular method due to the ability to remove the fog from the brain. This type of abstinence involves abstinence of eating foods for 12, 16 hours, or more, during which nothing is consumed except water (with some exceptions).
Medical studies show that the intermittent food abstinence has several advantages, besides increasing the energy:
- Reduces insulin resistance, relieving insulin and fat diseases by lowering IGF-1. levels and increasing insulin sensitivity without reducing the metabolic rate.
- Improves immunity, reduces the risk of diabetes, and improves cardiac health
- Increases neurotrophic growth factor production in the brain – a protein that promotes the growth and protection of neurons, increasing resistance to neurological stress and fighting neurodegenerative diseases.
- Learn about psilocybin mushrooms.
Psilocybin mushrooms are known under the scientific name of Psilocybe cubensis.
Psylocybin mushrooms is a name designated for over 100 species of mushrooms containing psilocybin and psilocin.
These two compounds are responsible for hallucinogenic effects and dizziness caused by the consumption of these fungi.
Even if they are not legal, some scientists investigate the compounds of these ‘magic mushrooms’ to discover new ways they could benefit for the brain.
In a surprising breakthrough, researchers at the University of South Florida have noticed that reduced doses of this psychedelic drug have eliminated conditioned fear response in mice, helping the brain to generate to new neurons.
In this study, published in Experimental Brain Studies in 2013, the researchers suggest that these compounds in the mushroom could be the treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder.
These are the 10 methods to develop your brain, literally, and are methods which have been studied by specialists during various medical studies.