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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.

2. Increase your brain size with video games.

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The wonderfully titled study "Playing Super Mario induces structural brain plasticity: grey matter changes resulting from training with a commercial video game" found that computer game playing improves your cognitive function and performance.

The best games to play: ones that replicate another world, with ever-changing landscapes, because those are the most challenging.

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.

4. Go for a walk to boost your memory and problem-solving skills.

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A University of Illinois study found that a short walk can boost recall. It'll also make you TWICE as creative, a Stanford University study found.

5. Go to the gym if you need to boost your memory.

A Georgia Institute of Technology study has shown that just 20 minutes of weightlifting can improve your episodic memory (long-term memory) by 10%.
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A Georgia Institute of Technology study has shown that just 20 minutes of weightlifting can improve your episodic memory (long-term memory) by 10%.

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.

7. Stand on one leg to boost your memory.

Standing on one leg for five seconds at a time can help improve your memory and problem-solving abilities. And it can even make you more creative. The reason: the extra effort causes your brain to bulk up its grey and white matter in order to cope with and learn this new challenge.
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Standing on one leg for five seconds at a time can help improve your memory and problem-solving abilities. And it can even make you more creative. The reason: the extra effort causes your brain to bulk up its grey and white matter in order to cope with and learn this new challenge.

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.

9. Chewing gum can help your test scores.

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Studies have shown that chewing gum can make you smarter.

How? It helps oxygenate the brain by increasing blood flow up there.

10. Use coloured sticky notes.

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.
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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.

13. Take a language class to boost your brain.

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A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that learning a second language after the age of 10 "restructures the brain", making it more efficient in other areas too.

Hungry for more knowledge? Broaden your horizons in 2015 with The Open University!