Scientists have found that there are many basic activities, such as taking a nap or eating certain foods, that can boost intelligence. A number of surprising personal qualities, such as having chest hair, have also been found to be indicators of an agile and lucid mind. On the other hand, some things that we have commonly associated with high brain capacity, such as the ability to perform multiple tasks at the same time, have actually been shown to undermine our performance and concentration levels during important tasks. This slideshow presents 10 things that can boost intelligence.
A recent study found that countries with the most Nobel prize winners throughout history are those with the highest per capita consumption of chocolate. The research, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, puts Switzerland at the top of the ranking, followed by fellow chocolate loving nations Sweden and Denmark. The authors associate this success with the benefits provided by flavonoids, antioxidants present in this food and wine. Author of the study Dr Franz Messerli, of St Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, acknowledges that the report’s conclusions may sound "absurd," but he argues that the data is legitimate.
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We are now not only urged to exercise the body on a regular basis but we also encouraged to give our mind a workout as well. It was once thought that the adult brain could not be changed once it had been fully formed but neurobiologists have now discovered that the organ continues to develop throughout our lives. Based on this premise, Professor Richard Restak, in his educational video "Optimising Brain Fitness," preaches that we can stimulate the mind no matter what our age and that we can improve performance to meet daily challenges, solve problems and learn new things. In fact, the more you learn, the more neural circuits you use.
A study conducted by Dr Aikarakudy Alias found a link between male body hair and intelligence. Specifically, his research showed that graduates and university students tended to have more chest hair than those working in less skilled jobs. He found that gifted students were hairier than those who achieved lesser grades.
Multitasking, the ability almost everyone includes on their CV, is actually a great enemy of concentration and intelligence. The more tasks you try to perform at the same time, the worse your concentration and overall performance becomes. Multitasking leads to you not being able to distinguish between important and trivial information. In fact, the whole concept of multitasking is a misnomer, since the brain can only efficiently perform two functions at the same time due to the fact that it is divided into two hemispheres.
Taking a nap
Scientific studies have found that sleep deprivation undermines intellectual performance. Indeed, lack of sleep decreases the efficiency and performance of our brain on a similar level to alcohol. When we take in new information into the brain, we need about six hours to fully incorporate it. Sleep is vital in the process of lodging new information in the inner workings of our mind. Short naps of about 20 minutes are a great way of reassembling brain circuitry, improving motor skills and enhancing memory and creativity. Naps will also help you relax and reduce stress levels.
The virtuoso musician Jimmy Hendrix, the writer Charles Dickens and scientist Albert Einstein are all said to have displayed symptoms of bipolar disorder. Indeed, some studies have pointed to a tendency for bipolar disorder to be more prevalent among the gifted. Some evidence suggests the gene DARPP-32, which is found in three quarters of human beings, plays a role in bipolar disorder. It is also believed that this gene could help improve the brain’s capacity to absorb and process information. Another study, which looked at the relationship between student achievement and mental health in adults, found that students with the highest test scores had more chances of developing the disorder.
Eccentricity is a difficult quality to define and measure. However, it can be said that strange behaviour has traditionally been seen as a sign of heightened intelligence and creativity. Famous eccentrics include 15th Century artist and scientist Leonardo Da Vinci, fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent and singer Lady Gaga.
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The brain is divided into two hemispheres that have different roles. While the left part of the brain processes analytical information, the right is responsible for overall perception. In humans, as in the brains of many mammals, one of the hemispheres always slightly dominates the other. Some studies suggest that left-handed people have a tendency to have a higher IQ, while other scientific research has highlighted that left-handers have better results in problem-solving tests.
Related: Facts about being left handed
A study that examined the relationship between intelligence and religious faith in 2008 showed that people with higher IQ levels tended to be atheists. Agnostics and people with liberal beliefs also scored highly but those with fundamentalist religious beliefs scored poorly. In fact, the link between IQ and religion has been extensively investigated, both in individuals and in societies. For example, countries with populations less likely to believe in God also had higher average IQ test scores.
One popular myth within many societies is that there is a link between high IQ and depression. Indeed, writer Ernest Hemingway was once quoted as saying: "Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know.” However, a recent study in the United Kingdom showed that people with lower IQs were more likely to be unhappy than people of higher intelligence. The research suggests that it is other characteristics normally associated with intelligence, and not intelligence itself, that contribute to depression.