This archived article was written by: CJ Evans
Tell people that their diets or habits are making them fat or out of shape and they shrug it off, after all its stuff they hear every day, and in all honesty, already know. Tell them that their habits make them stupider and it’s time to roll up your sleeves and defend yourself. We know that our brain is a part of our body, but no one likes to think of intelligence as something that gets weak and flabby because of things out of our control.
Unfortunately, scientific studies have proven…
#3) Meetings (and group projects in general)
slow down your brain
Everyone has had classes where the teachers insist on having a class group project and claim that it is the best way for students to learn. The idea is that by forcing people into a group and giving each individual a portion of responsibility, they will all rise to the occasion and learn the subject material in order to provide the best experience for their group mates.
The problem is that every time you’re put in that situation (and not just a group project but in work meetings as well) it seems that everyone who, up until now, was at least moderately smart, suddenly drops 60 IQ points. No, it’s not that you just hate everyone you’re working with, it’s science.
In a study done by researchers who were probably wishing that they were alone the entire time, they found that when people are made to work together in small groups, their brains start freezing on them like a frantic writer struggling to come up with an analogy. Thankfully the scientists were kind enough to provide us with an explanation for this phenomenon.
For one, they have to focus more on interaction and behavior (think of all the brainpower that goes into not saying all those incredibly inappropriate thoughts that come into your mind whenever someone else talks) instead of the task at hand.
A second point revolves around a person’s status in the group, because no matter how many episodes of Sponge Bob will try to convince you otherwise, confidence matters. So the more competitive the group is, the dumber some of its members will be. For the study, people of similar IQ’s were put into groups of five and ranked for their performance on mental tests. When the results were shown to the entire group, those who came out last, started performing significantly worse for their next tests: they felt dumb compared to the rest, so they screwed up more than they would have if they had been alone. The researchers believe that the same thing happens in more subtle ways in everyday life.
#2) Junk food
ruins your brain
We’ve learned that junk food rots your teeth on top of helping you gain a more pear-shaped body than anyone would ever prefer to have, but as long as you’re smart enough to eat in moderation and exercise right after, you should be fine, that is if eating that stuff hadn’t been knocking those precious IQ points from your head since you were in kindergarten.
A five-year study (yes we checked, people actually do have the patience for that) found that the more junk food a person eats at the ripe age of 3, the higher the chance that they will have a lower IQ at the age 8.
At the same time, kids who managed to eat healthier at 3 weren’t just more fit later on, but were also smarter than their counter parts who had survived on a diet of Cheese Puffs and Slim Jims. The children who held a more balanced diet had greater behavioral, social and cognitive skills than the others thanks to the amount of minerals, fats and vitamins needed to develop properly.
Now I know that you’re saying “But CJ, I’m an adult now. My brain is maxed out and it’s not going to develop anymore. I may not be an Einstein, but I don’t have to worry about food making me any dumber!” Well, tough luck and poor choice of words there, because scientists, in their constant struggle to ruin everything we ever love or care about, have proven just the opposite.
This research comes from a test where scientists taught rats how to navigate their way through a maze. Once they could go through the maze in an acceptable period of time on a consistent basis so as to prove it wasn’t all just raw luck, they were put on a strict diet of sugary beverages (we’re thinking kool-aid) and water. Six weeks later the rats were put in the maze again to see if the change in diet had changed anything. Turns out that the rats that had been drinking sugar had a much harder time navigating through the maze, and not just because it was harder to squeeze through; they were slower, their memories had been affected and their cognitive abilities had pretty much been shattered. All this because their continued sugar overdose had rendered their bodies more resilient to insulin, which, as it turns out, isn’t just good for your blood sugar level, but also for helping your brain cells work.
#1) Living in a city
makes you dumber
Ask almost anyone in a major city what they think of the country and you’ll get a leer and some smart comment about how living in the country makes you the equivalent of that kid in elementary whose idea of recess was to chew on rocks. And while the majority of us asphalt dwellers love feeling superior to those country folk, turns out that maybe they should be the ones making fun of us. See, not only does living in a city “majorly” stress you out, but it also screws with your intelligence.
Researchers conducted an experiment that required half of the subjects to walk through a park and the other to walk through a busy city. Afterward, the researchers performed tests and found that those who had gone through the city had worse memory, poor attention span and learning problems. But the absolute worst, most bizarre part of their findings? Even seeing pictures of a city brings out these symptoms.
The reasoning is actually simple. Walking through a city is pretty taxing for your brain, even if you don’t realize it. In a city, your brain keeps track of every piece of ambient noise, every flash of light and those bizarre smells that you can only find in a city, while at the same time trying to put one foot in front of the other and not get run over by cars. After a while of this intense multi-tasking, your brain is so tired that you’re left with memory problems and poor self control. This would explain why you are more likely to make impulse buys and indulge yourself after just an hour in a crowded supermarket. Meanwhile, walking through, or just looking at vegetation, relaxes people and makes their brain work more efficiently and, no, we’re not talking about an empty field where there’s nothing to distract you. The same researchers have found that the more diverse the vegetation, the more benefits your brain will see. Much like a city, nature can grab your attention in any number of ways but in a more helpful, brain restoring way than the city.