Scan at the supermarket
Stores are designed to have the most profitable items at eye level, and when you shop you don’t really see everything there. Brain exercise: Stop in any aisle and look at the shelves, top to bottom. If there’s something you’ve never seen before, pick it up, read the ingredients, and think about it. You don’t have to buy it to benefit; you’ve broken your routine and experienced something new. Check out these other 8 science-backed tricks for looking smarter.
Do an art project in a group
Art activates the nonverbal and emotional parts of the cerebral cortex. When you create art, you draw on parts of your brain interested in forms, colors, and textures, as well as thought processes very different from the logical, linear thinking that occupies most of your day. Brain exercise: Ask each person to draw something associated with a specific theme like a season, an emotion, or a current event. Check out these other 6 awesome ways doodling makes you smarter.
Make more social connections during your day
Scientific research has repeatedly proved that social deprivation has severe negative effects on overall cognitive abilities. Brain exercise: Thirsty? Buy a drink from a person rather than a vending machine. Need gas? Pay the clerk at the counter rather than just swiping your credit card at the pump. (Find out how video games—both solo and team versions—strengthen your brain.)
When we read aloud or listen to reading, we use very different brain circuits than when we read silently to ourselves. Brain exercise: Read aloud with your partner or a friend, alternating roles of reader and listener. It may be slow to get through a book, but as a bonus you'll spend quality time together. (Learn more about why your brain needs you to read every day.)
Eat unfamiliar foods
Your olfactory system can distinguish millions of odors by activating unique combinations of receptors in your nose. There's a direct link to the emotional center of your brain, so new odors may evoke unexpected feelings and associations. Brain exercise: Choose a cuisine unfamiliar to you, and browse the variety of novel vegetables, seasonings, and packaged goods. Ask storekeepers how to prepare some of the more unfamiliar items. Check out these other 5 everyday things that are making you smarter.
Get More Brain Workouts
brain exercises brain alive cover
Keep Your Brain Alive, by neurobiologist Lawrence C. Katz, PhD, and Manning Rubin, is packed with 83 neurobic exercises to increase mental fitness and help prevent memory loss. Learn more and buy the book here.