“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou
The great debate on intelligence is a long and complicated one and for centuries people have tried to discover how to increase their very own intellect. But now because of the great advances in neuroscience on intelligence, psychologists have discovered multiple ways to incur neurogenesis or the growing of one’s brain cells.
The History of Neurogenesis Explained Not long ago, scientists and the mass opinion of growing new brain cells was that it simply does not happen. Till this day, there is a common misconception that we are born with only a set number of neurons (brain cells) and from that point on we only lose neurons as we age.
This is true — to an extant, because we do lose neurons as we age and most parts of your brain don’t grow new cells. However a bold scientist discovered something truly miraculous, mammalian creatures can grow new brain cells.
During the 1970s Michael Kaplan was conducting research on baby rats and how they grew brain cells. But what he discovered after years of research into the neuroscience of their brains was that the rats were actually growing new brain cells. Now how could this happen?
For years scientists had a firm belief that mammalian animals could not reproduce their brain cells. But that’s where Michael Kaplan’s got interesting — he found out that it’s not the mature brain cells replicating. Instead it’s the neural stem cells in your brains that turn into new brain cells.
These special type of cells remain in your brain your entire life, meaning you are technically capable of forming new brain cells throughout your entire life.
So How Exactly Do We Increase Intellect?
After Michael Kaplan published 19 scientific papers into his findings, scientists didn’t agree on the fact that neurogenesis occurs into the 1990s.
During that time, the psychological world was asking how exactly do we get brain cells to grow and then stop them from dying off. Because one of the largest problems associated with aging is that our brain cells die off and they’re gone forever.
So if there’s a way to grow new brain cells and keep them alive — then intellect can theoretically be increased.
The long hidden answer to the grand question on how to become smarter was hidden in Michael Kaplan’s 19 scientific journals. In the journals, Michael Kaplan went on to explain that the answer to maintaining new brain cells lied in the environment. Specifically, a rich and nurturing environment where the brain can be stimulated for long amounts of time.
Michael Kaplan illustrated several different experiments involving caged animals where some had no toys and others had learning exercises and stimulating toys.
In every single one of his caged animal experiments, the results were always the same: the animals who participated in the learning tasks and consistently played with toys demonstrated increased brain cell growth and maintenance of their mature cells.
Meaning that our environment plays a much larger role in determining our intellect than our genes do. There is no doubt that both play an essential role in our intelligence but the lack of a stimulating environment will, without doubt, hamper your abilities to become smarter.
Practical Ways To Getting Smarter
Now that we know that a rich environment, filled with learning and stimulating tasks is the real path to getting smarter — how about we learn some basic tasks that will induce neurogenesis.
Meditation: Through advanced imaging and MRI’s of people during meditation, scientists discovered that even 10 minutes a day of quiet mindfulness induces the creation of new brain cells. The reason being because during our earlier forms in evolution, it was an essential skill to be mindfully present in the moment.
In fact, those who spent too much time “in their heads” were more likely to get attacked and ultimately die. So because of this, our brain evolved so that it not only likes being present in the moment but actually grows when you are focused and absolved in the present second.
Cardiovascular Exercise: Many of you may have noticed that people who regularly exercise tend to be happier and capable of computing at a higher speed. This is no coincidence and it has to do with the fact that working out your heart strengthens your nerve cells.
Which in case you didn’t notice, Neuro actually means nerves. Meaning that your brain cells are actually called nerve cells. And the reason that recent research now supports that doing at least 30 minutes of cardio a day, significantly boosts your brain’s ability to create new neurons.
Positive Flow of Thoughts: Yes, you heard me right, thinking positive thoughts can literally grow your brain cells. And a surpassingly large amounts of people don’t seem to understand how toxic thinking and feeling negatively actually is.
Let me explain stress for a second, when your body begins to go into fight or flight mode, your brain releases a chemical called cortisol.
Now this neurotransmitter is great when fighting off a tiger — but deadly when sitting at your office. The reason being because cortisol not only shuts down the parts of the brain that create new brain cells, but actually begins killing off matured neurons.
So stop the negative thinking and start thinking of the cup as half full. You brain literally delights in the feelings of warmth and assurance. That’s what allows your olfactory bulbs and hippocampus to create new brain cells, and ultimately increase your intellect so that you no longer get stumped at where your keys are or how to feel better after a break up.
By Luis R. Valadez, Learning Mind;
About author: As an Author and Life Coach, the two aspects in life I value most are: humanity and self-improvement. I make it my goal and life’s work to illuminate the secrets of the mind and our potential to every thirsty man and woman. For when given water to grow, we humans prosper. Aside from my love of moving the human spirit — I also research and rejoice in the fields of neuroscience, historical arts, and quantum mechanics.