Do you want to improve your mind in 2018? We have compiled the best methods to boost brain power, improve memory, build new neural connections, ignite learning, and enhance cognitive function.

man sitting on a stack of books
If you would like to improve your mind in 2018, we have five tips to help you.
Humans have brain plasticity, or neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change for better or worse at any age.
This flexibility of the brain plays a significant role in the development or decline of our brains, and how our distinct personalities are shaped.
Neural connections can be forged or severed, and gray matter can thicken or shrink. These changes reflect transformations in our abilities.
For example, learning a new skill can wire new neural pathways in our brains, while aging may weaken certain neural pathways that once existed and result in our memories not performing as well as they once did.
The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association have recently developedseven steps that aim to help individuals keep their brains healthy, from childhood into old age. They advise people to:
  1. get regular exercise
  2. eat a healthful diet
  3. maintain a healthy weight
  4. control cholesterol
  5. regulate blood sugar levels
  6. manage blood pressure
  7. quit smoking
In addition to following these guidelines, Medical News Todayprovide five steps to reach optimal brain health and improve your mind for the year ahead.

1. Get physically active

From childhood through adulthood and into old age, physical activity has been shown time and time again to benefit brain health.
man walking his dog in the park
Taking a brisk walk before an exam or test could enhance your performance.
Physical activity affects children's brain structure from an early age, which, in turn, affects their academic performance.
Researchers discovered that children who are physically fit tend to have more gray matter in the frontal, subcortical, and temporal brain regions, as well as in the calcarine cortex.
These areas are all essential for executive function and motor, learning, and visual processes.
Exercise has been demonstrated to improve memory and thinking ability among older adults with mild cognitive impairment. Aerobic exercise, in particular, was shown to increase brain volume in most gray matter regions, including those that support short-term memory and improve cognitive function.
Scientists have indicated that even short bouts of physical activity may have a positive effect on the brain.
Taking part in 20 minutes of high-intensity interval training for 6 weeks has been associated with improvements in high-interference memory, which allows us to differentiate between our car and one of the same make, model, and color, for example.
The research also found that levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor — a protein involved in the function, growth, and survival of brain cells — was greater in individuals who experienced greater fitness gains from interval training.
Other research revealed that a one-time 10-minute burst of exercise temporarily boosts areas of the brain responsible for focus, decision-making, and problem-solving. This suggests that right before a cognitively demanding task such as an exam, test, or interview, performance may be improved by a brisk walk or cycle.
And, if you happen to prefer a more gentle form of exercise, practicing 25 minutes of Hatha yoga or mindfulness meditation each day has beenassociated with improvements in the brain's executive functions and cognitive abilities, as well as the ability to regulate knee-jerk emotional responses.

2. Eat a brain-boosting Mediterranean diet

The Mediterranean is the home to sun, sea, and foods known to have brain-boosting properties.
A bowl of pistachios on a cloth
Eating pistachios could improve cognitive processing and learning.
The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
It also includes moderate amounts of dairy, fish, and wine, while red meat, poultry, and processed foods are limited.
Research discovered that people who follow a Mediterranean diet might have long-term brain protection. Study participants who consumed a Mediterranean diet retained more brain volume over 3 years than those not following the diet.
Eating a Mediterranean diet has also been shown to slow down the rate of cognitive decline and is linked withimproved brain function in older adults.
study that focused on the impact of eating nuts on the brain found that regular nut consumption strengthens brainwave frequencies that are related to cognition, learning, memory, healing, and other vital brain functions.

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