Researchers tested how the mere presence of a smartphone affected cognitive capacity.
The mere presence of your smartphone makes you more dumb, even when it is on silent, new research finds.
It doesn’t even matter if it is turned off!
So, leaving your smartphone in another room actually makes you smarter.
The study found that when people had their smartphones with them, their cognitive capacity was reduced.
Cognitive capacity is the ability to hold and process information in the mind.
Dr Adrian Ward, the study’s first author, said:
“We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases.
Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process — the process of requiring yourself to not think about something — uses up some of your limited cognitive resources.
It’s a brain drain.”
People who left their smartphones in another room performed the best on cognitive tests, the study found.
The researchers tried all sorts of variations to check the effects.
Some people had their smartphones:
and turned off.
It didn’t matter, as long as the smartphone was near them, it decreased their brain power.
The only way to get rid of the smartphone disadvantage was put it in your pocket or, better yet, to put it in another room.
Dr Ward said:
“It’s not that participants were distracted because they were getting notifications on their phones.
The mere presence of their smartphone was enough to reduce their cognitive capacity.”
The researchers also tested how dependent people were on their phones.
How strongly, they were asked, did they feel they needed their smartphone to get through a typical day?
The researchers found that the most dependent people were the most put off when their phone was in the same room with them.
Once it was totally out of the room, then it didn’t have the same negative effect.
The study was published in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research (Ward et al., 2017).
A healthy diet as you’re growing up may help you have a higher IQ, while a diet high in processed foods, fat and sugar may result in a lower IQ, according to a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health in February 2011. Many of the same foods typically recommended for a healthy diet may also be good for your IQ.
Fish and Omega-3 Sources
Omega-3 fats, found in many types of fish and seafood, walnuts and flaxseeds, are important for infant brain development. An article published on the Association for Psychological Science website notes that children given omega-3 fats have higher IQs than those who don’t consume much of these essential polyunsaturated fats. These healthy fats may also help protect against dementia as you get older. Oysters are also a good seafood choice, because they’re rich in zinc. Zinc deficiency may adversely affect brain development, according to a review article published in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience in 2013.
Children and pregnant women are particularly sensitive to contaminants in fish, so choose those that are high in omega-3 fats but low in contaminants, such as wild salmon, sardines, Atlantic mackerel, mussels and rainbow trout for the recommended two servings per week of seafood to maximize benefits while minimizing risks.
Fruits and Vegetables
Antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, such as leafy greens and orange and red fruits and vegetables, may help protect your brain function and your memory as you age because of the beta-carotene and vitamin C they contain.
A diet rich in herbs, legumes, raw fruits and vegetables and cheese resulted in a higher IQ in children than a diet that included higher amounts of sweet and salty snacks, according to a study published in the European Journal of Epidemiology in July 2012.
Another study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry in 2009, came to a similar conclusion, showing that children who ate higher amounts of fruits, vegetables and home-prepared foods had higher IQs.
Iron-deficiency anemia may impair your attention span, IQ and ability to concentrate, so eat plenty of iron-rich foods. Increasing iron intake only appears to help IQ when children are deficient in iron, however, according to the Frontiers in Human Neuroscience article. Iron-rich foods include lean meats, oysters, beans, tofu, spinach, sardines and fortified breakfast cereals.
Other Protein-Rich Foods
Diets higher in protein and lower in fat may help improve your concentration because of the dopamine your body releases with protein consumption. Soy protein may be particularly helpful, since it also contains lecithin, which may improve memory and brain function. Lowfat dairy products, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are all nutritious sources of protein.
Get Plenty of B Vitamins and Choline
Foods containing folate, vitamin B-12 and choline may also help keep your brain healthy, limiting your risk for dementia, depression and neurological disorders. They are also important for cognitive development, so if children don’t get enough of these vitamins they may have a lower IQ. Folate is available in fortified breakfast cereals, spinach, beef liver, rice, asparagus, black-eyed peas, Brussels sprouts and avocado, and most animal-based foods contain vitamin B-12. Good sources of choline include beef, eggs, scallops, salmon, chicken breast, cod, shrimp, Brussels sprouts and broccoli.
A high-fat, high-sugar diet causes significant damage to cognitive flexibility, a new study finds.
Cognitive flexibility is the ability to adjust and adapt to changing situations.
The research was carried out on laboratory mice.
They were given either a normal diet, a high-fat diet or a high-sugar diet.
After four weeks the mental and physical performance of mice on the high-fat or high-sugar diet began to suffer.
2. Multimedia multitasking shrinks the brain
Using laptops, phones and other media devices at the same time could shrink important structures in the brain, a new study indicates.
For the first time, neuroscientists have found that people who use multiple devices simultaneously have lower gray-matter density in an area of the brain associated with cognitive and emotional control.
Multitasking might include listening to music while playing a video game or watching TV while making a phone call or even reading the newspaper with the TV on.
3. Googling it makes you feel cleverer than you are
Searching the internet makes people feel they know more than they really do, a new study finds.
And it doesn’t seem to matter much that people don’t actually find the information for which they were searching.
Matthew Fisher, who led the research, said:
“The Internet is such a powerful environment, where you can enter any question, and you basically have access to the world’s knowledge at your fingertips.
It becomes easier to confuse your own knowledge with this external source.
When people are truly on their own, they may be wildly inaccurate about how much they know and how dependent they are on the Internet.”
4. Too much sugar damages memory
Otherwise healthy people with high blood sugar levels are more likely to have memory problems, according to a recent study published in the journal Neurology.
One of the study’s authors, Dr. Agnes Flöel, said:
“…even for people within the normal range of blood sugar, lowering their blood sugar levels could be a promising strategy for preventing memory problems and cognitive decline as they age.
5. Experts know less than they think
‘Know-it-alls’ don’t know as much as they think, new research finds.
The more people think they know about a topic, the more likely they are to claim that totally made-up facts are true, psychologists have found.
Ms Stav Atir, the study’s first author, explained:
“The more people believed they knew about finances in general, the more likely they were to overclaim knowledge of the fictitious financial terms.
The same pattern emerged for other domains, including biology, literature, philosophy, and geography.
For instance, people’s assessment of how much they know about a particular biological term will depend in part on how much they think they know about biology in general.”
6. Poor sleep ruins thinking skills
The damage that poor sleep does to your thinking skills is mammoth.
Sleepy brains have to work harder while short-term and long-term memory is worse.
Attention and planning are worse and it’s easier to follow habits and difficult to create new strategies.
Sleep deprivation even damages the ability to read other people’s facial emotions.
7. Physical exhaustion hits mental performance
Both mental and physical stress can interact to cause fatigue, a new study finds.
The brain’s resources in the prefrontal cortex — an area used for planning and control — are divided during physical and mental activity, the research found.
The research is one of the first to show how mental and physical tasks can interact to fatigue the brain.
About the author Dr Jeremy Dean is a psychologist and the author of PsyBlog and HealthiestBlog.com. His latest book is “Making Habits, Breaking Habits: How to Make Changes That Stick”.
By Maia Szalavitz May 24, 2013 A new study suggests that intelligence is more about what the brain chooses to ignore than simply its ability to process information rapidly. The research, which was published in the journal Current Biology, suggests new ways of testing intelligence that may be less biased by cultural knowledge— as many have claimed other IQ tests are. It may also help to explain the profound intellectual talents of some autistic people. “It’s a really interesting potential new paradigm,” says Scott Barry Kaufman, adjunct assistant professor of psychology at New York University, who was not associated with the research. Scientists led by Duje Tadin, assistant professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, studied 67 people in two similar experiments. Before beginning, all participants took IQ tests: the first twelve took short versions, the rest sat for the full battery of testing. Then they watched videos of both small and large objects that moved, very slightly, either to the right or to the left of a screen and tried to identify the direction of motion. The scientists knew that tracking larger objects is actually more challenging, possibly because in the natural world, large background movements like those of trees rustling in the wind are typically irrelevant to human activity— so the brain automatically dismisses or ignores them. “What you want to see is if there’s an animal hiding in the tree about to jump you,” says Tadin. The researchers found that the difference between an individual’s ability to correctly identify the direction of motion between the small and large objects was strongly linked to their IQ. “The more they struggled with the big ones and the better they were at the small ones, the better their IQ was,” Tadin explains. In other words, intelligence may require a trade-off between being good at identifying motion in small objects at the cost of not being able to do so with large ones. Tadin and his colleagues called the measure of this skill the “suppression index.” “This is the first study I’ve ever seen that shows that the exact same ability to inhibit irrelevant and distracting information [on low levels] is correlated with higher order functions,” says Kaufman.
Although people have been trying to connect intelligence with perceptual speed and accuracy since smartness was first studied, prior research found only small correlations with measures of sensory information processing speed. “For intelligence, you need to be able process relevant information fast, but you also need to focus on the most relevant information and filter out what’s irrelevant,” says Tadin. That type of skill can be both disturbed in some ways and enhanced in others in autism. In previous research, Tadin examined sensory processing in autistic people, and found that autistic children were twice as effective in detecting motion of high contrast objects as typically developing kids. This heightened sensitivity may explain why autistic people frequently find themselves overwhelmed by strong sensory experiences like bright lights and loud noises that most of us register, but ignore. Such a sensitivity, however, may be linked to autistic individuals’ intellectual talents— and testing for this kind of sensory skill might reveal intelligence that is not captured by traditional IQ testing. “People with high functioning autism are really good at focusing on the local aspects of perception and totally ignoring the bigger picture,” says Kaufman. “This new paradigm might [offer a way] to measure the intelligence of autistic people, which is often underestimated because the tests are verbally loaded.” But while it might seem that the suppression index would be more strongly correlated with visual and spatial aspects of IQ, the measure actually showed a tighter connection with verbal intelligence. “That took us by surprise,” says Tadin. He says that verbal IQ has the strongest association to the overall score, but it is not clear why the connection appeared with this skill. Neither Tadin nor Kaufman sees the new test as a replacement for IQ testing, but if further research confirms the strength of the correlation between the suppression index and IQ, and determines how it changes with age, it could help provide additional information on intelligence. For example, it might be useful for children from disadvantaged backgrounds whose intelligence on current IQ tests may appear artificially low because they haven’t received the right type of intellectual stimulation or been exposed to the same cultural environments reflected in the test questions. The research also shows how intellectual ability may rely on the ability to avoid distraction. And that raises interesting questions about the impact that the constant diversions of the digital world could have on the intellect of future generations. “It’s getting worse and worse,” Tadin says of the technology that surrounds us and divides our attention. To maintain our intelligence, he adds, “We need to filter out some of this stuff.”