3 Ways to Maximize Your Brain Power

Researchers around the world are studying the human brain to find out what makes it tick. If nothing else, their findings are great conversation starters and this alone could make you smarter.

Check out these three interesting discoveries about how brain activity gets increased

1. It’s smart to socialize. Experiments have revealed that talking with others exercises your mind. “Short-term social interactions lasting just ten minutes boosted participants’ intellectual performance as much as engaging in ‘intellectual’ activities,” says Oscar Ybarra, a psychologist at the University of Michigan. Ybarra’s research shows that talking can improve our memory and thinking skills—which might mean that having a conversation is as helpful as doing a crossword puzzle. (Check out these intriguing conversation starters.)

2. Yawning is cool. University at Albany researchers Andrew C. Gallup and Gordon G. Gallup, Jr., say our brains burn up to 33 per cent of the calories we consume—and generate heat. Yawning cools brain cells, thus making them more efficient. The researchers also found that yawning increases blood flow and helps maintain optimum levels of functioning. And they suggest we’re biologically hard-wired to yawn to stay alert and protect ourselves from danger.

3. Use it or lose it. Scientists at the Queensland Brain Institute (QBI) in Australia have discovered that brain cells that aren’t stimulated destroy themselves. Neuroscientist Elizabeth Coulson suggests this self-destruction mechanism is a factor in brain conditions such as strokes and Alzheimer’s disease. Professor Perry Bartlett, director of the QBI, says understanding this process allows us to devise “new mechanisms for the treatment of diseases from depression to dementia.”

Plus: 8 Genius Habits Your 80-Year-Old Brain Will Thank You for Doing Today

Originally Published in Reader's Digest