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13 Ways To Shake Up Your Brain In 2015

Don't stagnate in 2015: try these brain boosting tips brought to you by The Open University.

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1. Meditate to increase your concentration span.

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A university study found that meditating can train your brain to increase your concentration span. It's also an amazing de-stresser, so will leave you feeling recharged and less mentally cluttered.

Try the Headspace meditation app if you need a helping hand.

3. Boost your brainpower by brushing your teeth "wrong".

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Shocking your brain by doing something you normally do, but "wrong", gives you a mental flossing, and could boost brain power by up to 40%.

If you don't want to jab yourself in the gums with a wobbly brush, try showering with your eyes closed, swapping which hand you hold your mouse, or switching places at the dinner table.

6. Train your brain – but in the right way.

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Unless you want to be really good at complex maths problems, trade in the Sudoku for something else.

In the same way that doing 100 sit-ups isn't going to make you brilliant at throwing a javelin, you need to use brain-training apps that will help you learn how to do the brain skill you want to master.

For example: memory games to improve your memory and word association games to improve your vocab.

8. Teach yourself to never forget a name again.

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Apparently, the biggest barrier to remembering someone's name isn't your bad memory – it's because you don't care enough.

Everyone is good at remembering stuff that interests them. So the key to retaining any information, from someone's name to your revision plan, is to make it interesting to you. Whether that's mentally tagging someone "Amanda-With-the-Cats" or revising from a cat-themed notepad.

10. Use coloured sticky notes.

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According to studies colours give us an extra "tag" of information when we're learning. Like, an extra little hook that helps it stick into your brain. The same thing works with smells and tastes.

Utilise this by colour-coding each subject and even wearing a special perfume, aftershave, or essential oil, and give it a sniff when you're studying. Wear this again in your exam.

11. Learn when you sleep.

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Record your study notes and play them to yourself before bed. A 2011 Michigan State University study found that it's possible to learn in your sleep, while a 2012 University of Notre Dame said that sleeping after learning new info helps your brain to process and memorise it.

Or if you're studying English lit, download the audiobooks in addition to buying the paper kind.

12. If you want to get more work done, look at pictures of cute animals.

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A study from Hiroshima University found looking at pictures of cute animals makes you more productive. This is because their cute little faces bring out protective feelings in you, so your brain makes you extra-active in order to protect and feed the little blighter.