brain hacks

Wish You Were Smarter? Check out These 4 Brain Hacks That Can Help You Get There.

Classical music, salmon for dinner and a technique that TV's 'Sherlock' uses are among the steps you can take towards greater brainpower.
Wish You Were Smarter? Check out These 4 Brain Hacks That Can Help You Get There.
Image credit: Roy Scott | Getty Images
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Entrepreneur, Growth Hacker and Marketer
5 min read
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All of us want to be smarter than we already are. So, many of us devote ourselves to a lifelong quest to learn more and expand our minds. Whether we’re reading the newspaper, picking up a new book, watching documentaries or learning a new skill by watching YouTube videos, our underlying purpose is generally to become smarter individuals.

Related: 13 Things You Can Do Daily to be Smarter, Healthier and Happier

But sometimes what we think we've learned just doesn’t stick. We might think we’re masters at a subject, only to realize we've forgotten everything we’ve learned. Other times, the distractions in our everyday lives make it difficult to absorb any new information at all. So, how can we become smarter about learning and become better at it, too? How do we train our brains to work better?

The answer is that there are ways to do that. Check out these four brain hacks -- vetted by research -- to make us smarter.

Listen to classical music.

We’ve all heard the idea that listening to classical music while you study will help you ace a test, or that playing classical music for babies in the womb makes them smarter; but is it true? According to research published in the science journal Learning and Individual Differences, it is -- at least for the purpose of studying.

University researchers from France found that students who listened to one hourlong lecture where classical music was played in the background scored significantly higher on a multiple-choice quiz about the lecture compared to the students who didn’t listen to the lecture with music. The researchers speculated that the music put the students into a heightened emotional state which made them more receptive to information.

Although listening to classical music might not turn you into an instant genius per se, it will help you better understand and retain the information you’ve learned. So, the next time you want to learn a new subject or skill, open up Spotify, find some classical music playlists and start listening.

Decorate your workspace with personal items.

Having a private space to work in is important for your concentration and productivity. But not everyone is lucky enough to have his or her own office with four walls and a door, especially now that open-space office concepts are so popular. So, if you’re someone who’s working in a cubicle in a busy office space with lots of distractions, how can you boost your brain and increase productivity? One answer, believe it or not, is by decorating your workspace with personal items.

Related: 12 Science-Backed Ways to Make Yourself Smarter

According to the Association for Psychological Science, data revealed that employees working in low-privacy spaces that were generic and undecorated reported the highest level of emotional exhaustion. The researchers speculated that when employees personalize their workspace, they consciously or subconsciously take comfort from the items they surround themselves with at work.

This in turn helps employees maintain emotional energy in the face of work stresses and distractions. So, hang up some family photos and post some of your favorite quotes; decorating your space with items you love will help you work more efficiently.

Eat omega-3 fatty acids.

Boosting your brainpower can be as simple as changing what you eat. Adding more foods that are high in omega-3 fatty acids to your diet is a simple -- and delicious -- hack to make you smarter. Foods that are high in these fatty acids include fish like mackerel and salmon, oysters, caviar and walnuts.

According to Dr. Scott McGinnis, assistant professor in neurology at Harvard Medical School, omega-3 fatty acids perform a number of jobs for our brains, including building cell membranes throughout the body and the brain as well as having anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that can promote healthier brain cells and less deterioration of the brain. So, if you want a smarter brain well into old age, adding some fish to your diet may be one of the ways to get there.

Create a "memory palace."

Be like BBC’s Sherlock and create your very own "memory palace" (alternately, "mind palace") to improve your memory. Creating a memory palace is a simple technique that dates back to ancient Rome and Greece. The memory palace technique, also known as the method of loci, is a method of memory enhancement which, according to Wikipedia, "uses visualizations, with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one's environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information."

It works like this: Create a layout of a building or a town in your mind. Choose a place that’s very familiar to you, like a shopping mall you frequent or your childhood home for instance. Visualize a route for your memory palace, so instead of just visualizing a house, you picture how you would walk through it.

Then identify specific locations to store information. You’ll store each piece of information you want to remember in a specific location such as the medicine cabinet in the upstairs bathroom, behind a picture frame above the bed and so on. After practicing, the idea is that you’ll be able to walk through your memory palace whenever you want and pluck information easily from wherever you’ve hidden it.

Related: Everybody Says to Work Smarter. Here Are 4 Ways to Do It.

Over to you.

Now that you’ve got some great brain hacks that will make you smarter, that subject or skill that you want to master will become easier than ever before. Whether you’re learning to improve your professional skills or to improve your personal life, you'll find that your brain will greatly benefit from implementing these methods.

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