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Eat eggs and play Sudoku if you want to be brainier

EATING eggs, playing Sudoku and even listening to classical music can all boost IQ levels, according to scientists.

Switching off mobile telephones, which if rung can distract a brain that was in deep concentration for as long as 15 minutes, is another way to increase intellect.


Scientists were asked to come up with 11 methods to boost brain power which did not involve traditional education.

Among the recommendations were high-protein food, a good night's sleep and physical and mental workouts, as well as music, medicine and even puzzles such as Sudoku. But the stimuli have to be the correct sort according to the geneticists, mathematicians and other experts consulted by the journal New Scientist.

Fizzy drinks should be avoided, but high-protein food such as baked beans for breakfast or eggs at lunchtime are good for the brain. Having breakfast of some sort rather than skipping it altogether enhances mental performance.

Listening to Mozart in particular has been proved to improve the mind's mathematical capabilities, but even having music lessons can boost a child's IQ by two to three points, the scientists said.

Another simple trick is to get a good night's sleep after trying to learn something for a couple of hours, because that is when the brain stores memories for the long term.

Alternatively some drugs can be beneficial. Modafinil keeps the brain alert for 90 hours and a class of drugs called ampakines, currently on trial, are said to be able to restore brain activity which may be lost as people get older.

A spokesman for New Scientist said their suggestions could enhance IQ in people, whatever their education or brain power.

He said: "It doesn't matter how brainy you are or how much education you've had - there are still ways to boost your mental faculties.

"This is New Scientist's guide to getting smarter. Smart drugs could do the trick; classic sonatas seem to stimulate genes in the brain and some technological tricks could boost brain function."

Dr Cynthia McVey, a senior lecturer in psychology at Glasgow Caledonian University, said she agreed with many of the findings.

She said: "There has been evidence that certain types of music can aid learning and concentration. Classical music is thought to open certain pathways in the brain.

"Like a car engine needs petrol, the body needs fuel to get going at the beginning of the day and this includes the brain cells.

"Fizzy drinks can have a negative effect on concentration, too, because of fluctuating sugar levels."

CLEVER STUFF

THE eleven steps to getting smarter are:

  1. Smart drugs: These include modafinil which keeps the brain alert for 90 hours and a class of drugs called ampakines, currently on trial, which are said to be able to restore brain activity which may be lost as people get older.
  2. Food for thought: Certain foods are good for the brain, such as high-protein ones like beans at breakfast or eggs at lunchtime.
  3. Music: Listening to Mozart in particular has been shown to improve the mind's mathematical capabilities.
  4. Bionic brains: Though it sounds a bit scary, using electrodes to send small currents to the brain is thought to be able to help give it a boost. Alternatively, some even suggest the controversial option of having genetically engineered brain cells.
  5. Mental Workouts: Training the brain with a series of mathematical puzzles can improve it, according to researchers in Stockholm.
  6. Rain Man Memory: It is possible to teach the brain to remember, for instance, a whole pack of 52 playing cards in order by associating each card with, say, a character and then devising a story including all the characters in order.
  7. Sleep: Sleep is when the brain processes new memories and puts them into the equivalent of long-term storage.
  8. Walk: Walking, sedately, for half an hour, three times a week, can improve learning, concentration and reasoning by up to 15 per cent, particularly for older people.
  9. Sudoku: The latest puzzle craze helps stimulate brain activity.
  10. Attention: The brain works better when it pays attention to what is going on.
  11. Neurofeedback: It is a type of thought control. When a person relaxes, the brain's "alpha waves" perform better and this can help control epilepsy, depression, anxiety and other stresses.

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