Friday, April 25, 2008

Get Smarter: 12 Hacks That Will Amp Up Your Brainpower (Wired)

Wired gives out an astonishing portion of its magazine for free online. Factor in the magazine's alliance with The Office (that link deserves a post of its own) and it's downright unbeatable. Last year's Jenna Fischer cover was kind of cruel to my geeky mind, though.

Wired's new list of twelve ways to improve brainpower is killer and practical. Among them:

  • Distract Yourself - "The trick is to distract yourself by studying stuff that's slightly different from whatever you're trying to learn. Your brain will then work harder to permanently store the original information."
  • Embrace Chaos - "Mix yourself up. That's advice from Robert Bjork, chair of UCLA's psychology department and a leading expert in memory and learning. Volunteers in his experiments exhibited superior recall when they learned information in randomly ordered chunks. . . When tested, the random group had much better recall."
  • Speed-Reading is a Myth - "It should take you two and a half seconds to read this sentence. Any faster and you won't absorb its meaning. The motor response of the retina, and the time it takes the image of a word to travel from the macula to the thalamus to the visual cortex for processing, limits the eye to about 500 words a minute. (That's peak efficiency; the average college student can expect a rate about half that.)"

This goes hand-in-hand with some neat rules of health that I've picked up over the years. Even five minutes of exercise will make you feel better for the rest of the day. Carbs in the morning will earn you a sluggish afternoon. A one-hour nap will leave you more tired than a twenty-minute nap. Don't stick razors under your fingernails. There's probably thousands more of them.

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