Increase intelligence used to mean pour words, knowledge, books, research, and more words into your head, and reach a tipping point where you leaped a level in terms of insight, inspiration, or creativity.
That spark might come in a dream, or a reverie, as it did for Thomas Edison, who used to court the alpha-theta dreamy state for ideas.
Now though, increasing intelligence means something a little different.
All those experts who went prior to us until about 12 or 15 years ago had no knowledge of a capacity of our brain called neurogenesis, which means the growth of new brain cells, and we have also made some stunning advances in understanding neuroplasticity, which is the brains capacity to rewire itself in moments, not decades, when I present it with a novel learning experience.
So increasing intelligence these days has much more to do with enhancing neurogenesis and neuroplasticity than it does with pouring words into my head in hopes for that insight that puts it all together.
And there is great news in the enhancement arena, we can work out the brain for increased neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, and that brain workout is available to all of us, if we want to put some effort into taking care of the pillars of brain fitness.
(Sharon Begley in her excellent book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain shows us how the practice of Buddhist meditation actually changes the brain, so there are folks out there working to measure the impact of regular effort on a discipline).
Those Buddhist monks that Begley talks about actually made a part of their brain associated with their meditative practice bigger, and I would suggest to you that when it comes to brains, bigger is better.
But back to increasing intelligence by working out your brain.
Simon Evans,Ph.D. and Paul Burghardt,Ph.D. have written a wonderful e-book called Brainfit for Life which is very clear presentation, written for the layperson actually, of what is required to increase intelligence.
It turns out that we need to attend to several brain fitness pillars frequently in order to increase neurogenesis and neuroplasticity, and those pillars are; physical/activity or exercise, nutrition, including getting lots of antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acid, sleep, stress management, and novel learning experience, which might include using a computerized brain fitness program to increase intelligence.
Almost all of the folks writing about brain fitness say that the novel learning experience pillar needs to be a kind of learning like what the brain does when it learns a new language or learns a new instrument, which involves an increasing level of complexity and an opportunity for an appropriate amount of positive feedback in each lesson.
Not sure about you, but I do not have a lot of free time available to learn a new language or a new instrument, and I am getting close to retirement age.
My fault though for being a late life parent, and now I am very interested in keeping my wits about me as I age.
So I am looking at computerized brain fitness programs to enhance neurogenesis and neuroplasticity because they fit into my schedule much more effectively, and interestingly enough, one of the online programs, based on the dual n back task, has been shown to improve IQ scores after 19 days of use.
I have tried that tool and found it addictive. It very quickly indicated to me how rapidly my attention wandered, and how that impacted my ability to solve problems.
Just the attentional training from the dual n back made a difference in my effectiveness, and there is a program available for the kids.
But the dual n back is not the only brain fitness program available for us to use to impact neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.
There are a number of programs developed for use by more mature brains, which exercise the neurons in the auditory circuits, and both anecdotal and research results indicate that memory can come back, and for those folks, the ability to remember a shopping list again is increased intelligence, or the use of the vision programs which help Senior Citizens keep driving means mobility, and less dependence.
There are online programs available too, which you can boot up on your computer, and do between phone calls and clients for example.
But say you are more of a traditionalist in the novel learning experience brain fitness pillar, and you prefer something other than computerized brain fitness programs.
Not a problem, just make sure the learning is novel. What that means is that as a counselor, I cannot read another counseling text and hope to increase neurogenesis and neuroplasticity because my brain knows how to do counseling already.
So I have tried some of the computerized brain fitness programs, since I do exercise regularly, get my omega 3 fatty acid, use Heartmath for stress management, and eat lots of veggies.
I have tried Lumosity, which is a great tool to keep booted up on your computer, for a quick brain brightener between clients, or phone calls, and Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, which is addictive. Mind Sparke will quickly help you learn about how quickly your attention wanders.
The last program I have tried, with wonderful results for my word recall issue, it the Posit Science Brain Program. Want research on the efficacy of this tool? Check out the IMPACT study.
There are links in the right sidebar. Hope you enjoy. Mike
Very early in my personal growth experience, a wise person taught me to use the phrase "gratitude is the attitude" when I was resentful or afraid and that phrase has helped me feel better tens of thousands of times.
Would you share your favorite gratitude story by clicking here? Your story may be just what another person needs to renew themselves.
Your story becomes part of this website (which shows the site's most recent pages) and a permanent part of Ask Mike the Counselor2 for others to read!
And I'll tweet your Web page at my Twitter account, too!