IQ Enhancer

Aug 28, 2012 by

IQ EnhancerHarried students hoping for an edge in performance are often looking for the latest product that shows promise as an IQ enhancer, or so-called “smart drug”. Contrary to the way they’re often portrayed in the media, concentration-aiding drugs such as Ritalin or Adderall have nothing to do with raising intelligence or problem-solving ability. Although many people use these drugs off-label for study and work, these amphetamine salts just artificially amplify a person’s ability to focus on one task for long periods of time. They do not improve a person’s reasoning abilities, and may actually favor some kinds of thinking over others. One former user of Adderall attested in an interview that essays produced under pharmaceutical influence tended to be “wordy and convoluted”, and not as high quality as they might have been otherwise. However, our brains do require specific neurotransmitters to perform acts of reasoning and memorization, so herbs, supplements and other compounds that help the brain produce these chemicals could be considered potential IQ enhancers. Furthermore, some of the best ways you can enhance your IQ involve exercising and challenging your brain!

First of all, what is intelligence? Broadly speaking, intelligence is defined as a person’s ability to adapt to their environment by coming up with novel solutions to challenges in that environment. Most modern IQ tests use a specific set of problems that require analytical, spatial and logical reasoning to solve. In other words, IQ tests don’t measure how “smart” you are in a holistic sense; rather, they measure your relative problem-solving and analytical abilities within the parameters defined in the IQ test.

What this means is that you can actually change and enhance your IQ over your lifetime by keeping your brain active and continuing to learn throughout life. Since your IQ score is based partially on your general knowledge, it will increase as you learn more, whether in school or through continuing adult education. While in the past, researchers believed that genetics totally determined a person’s intelligence, we know now that a person’s environment is an equal and sometimes greater determining factor in their adaptability and problem-solving ability. An environment that provides you many opportunities for social interaction and stimulation will increase your mental flexibility, so a stimulating environment is a definite IQ enhancer! Clinical experiments have also demonstrated that it is possible for people to increase fluid intelligence, or their ability to adapt to a novel situation, with practice. Fluid intelligence relies on a well-developed short-term memory that can retain information for brief periods, so training your memory can improve this area of your intelligence.

So, given that intelligence seems to rest on your brain’s capacity to process and respond to new information, some good IQ enhancers would be supplements and mental practices that strengthen your ability to do this. Many of the best supplements are amino acid precursors to the neurotransmitters your brain uses to transmit and store information, or herbs that stimulate the production of these neurotransmitters. For instance, choline is an amino acid found in common foods like potatoes, eggs and bananas. It’s also a precursor to acetylcholine, one of the most important neurotransmitters when it comes to forming memories and learning. Many medications used to treat degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s act as cholinergics that increase the brain’s supply of this essential compound. Herbal memory enhancers such as Huperzine A, found in Chinese club moss, and Celastrus paniculatus seed, also help the brain maintain higher acetylcholine levels by inhibiting the enzyme that breaks down this neurotransmitter.

Furthermore, there is recent evidence that glutamic acid may be a very effective IQ enhancer. Glutamic acid is a common amino acid that we get from many different foods; the body can also synthesize it from smaller building blocks. Although the results are still provisional, the emerging picture is that glutamic acid may encourage the formation of new connections between neurons in brain tissue.

Other herbs can enhance your thinking and reasoning abilities indirectly by reducing mental stress and anxiety. Your ability to reason, concentrate and think clearly takes a big hit when you’re feeling stressed, anxious or depressed, so tackling the problem with calming and mood-elevating herbs and habits can act as a natural IQ enhancer. One way to enhance both your mood and the neural connections in your brain is through regular exercise, a proven stress-buster. Additionally, herbs like passionflower and valerian can be calming and anxiolytic without impairing your thinking the way alcohol or tranquilizers would. Although their exact mechanism of action is unclear, researchers believe that anxiolytic herbs may work by increasing calming neurotransmitters such as GABA (gamma amino butyric acid) in the brain.

These herbal IQ enhancers will probably work best if you combine them with activities that increase your brain’s plasticity and fluid intelligence. Great practices for increasing your mental alacrity include reading, writing, engaging in debate, and travel. Reading and writing will help you develop your language skills, exercise your imagination and logical faculties, and help you express yourself creatively. Likewise, by having spirited discussions with others (not arguments!) you can hone your ability to explain your opinions while encountering alternative viewpoints. Travel is another great way to encounter different perspectives in order to broaden your mind and sharpen your perceptual skills. Finally, there’s some truth to the idea that teaching something to others is the best way to learn: explaining a skill or concept to someone else can be most effective for clarifying it in your own mind.

Every day, we’re surrounded by opportunities to exercise our brains and increase our own knowledge. Engaging our brains with the environment through a few easy brain training practices and herbal allies may be the best IQ enhancer after all!

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