How to Improve Your Brain’s Processing Speed up to 100X and Recall What You’ve Learned Better.

Recall What You've Learned Better

You know what you are doing now? Of course you are reading. You are reading this article. Maybe, you are interested in finding out how reading improves the quality of your life. Maybe, you know about the good things reading will do for you. Maybe, you are here to find out how you can boost the returns from investing time in reading. Whatever the reason, welcome. You are doing the right thing for your brain and body.

You know what you are doing? You are improving the quality of your life, without having to make a conscious blink.

What Really Happens When You Read?

A Stanford University research concludes that when you read, you are actually working out your brain. Like you are in a brain gym. By using the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) researchers were able to trace blood flow to the different regions of the brain beyond those used to think and make decisions. When you read, it is found that many regions across your brain are lighted up. Natalie Phillips, lead of the Stanford research suggests that reading’s effect on the brain is more complex than just work and play.

What does this find mean to you? Plenty. Plenty important. Have you heard about the use it or lose it axiom? Neuroscientists found that neural pathways to regions of your brain you are not lighting up often enough will lose its speed and power.

Instant Insight Built Over Years

The brain will reprioritize the more frequently used connections over the unused ones. If you do not use the neural connection, you lose it. That brain region will slow down. You will slowly lose the skills and capabilities associated with that part of the brain.

Whereas, the more frequently used neural pathway will get stronger with it insulation thickening with use. This is important. The neural network in our brain communicate by electric signals.

Thicker insulation means less electric current leak. With thicker insulation, the neural pathway gains power and speed in communication. Researchers find that well insulated neural pathways promote communication up to 100X the speed over the poorly insulated ones. In one science publication a visual metaphor is used to illustrate the point. The difference in the speed of information processing is like jogging versus speeding in a race car.
Poor insulation is caused by lack of use. In essence, by just reading, you would have enhanced the fitness of your brain. Save your money on ginseng, folic acid and the B’s. Buy more books and extend reading subscriptions.

The connection between reading and brain health is electric.

Why Do Other People Read?

Like any muscle in your body, the brain needs exercise to keep it supple and healthy. That reading a book is like working out is not a new discovery.
By science or common sense, they knew this in the 17th century. English playwright, poet, essayist and politician, Joseph Addison (1672-1719) is credited to have said this; “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.”

Keeping your brain engaged and active can slow down, and possibly prevent the onset of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Reading also improves your memory. Each time a new idea pops from a book, you think about it, new synapses are formed. If it is something you recognize, something that is already stored in your brain, old pathway will be strengthen, thus the improvement in short term memory.
In the Stanford research, it is found that when you read, blood flows into brain regions associated with paying close attention to the task, confirming that reading improves your focus and concentration.

Learn to recall Better

Life enhancing as these benefits of reading are, it seems that very few are aware or are purposefully in pursuit of them. From a research by Pew Research Centre, only 3% said they like to be mentally challenged by (reading) books. The bulk of participants said they read to learn, gain knowledge, discover information, escape reality, immerse in another world, use their imagination, be entertained, find spiritual enrichment (close) and to expand their worldview. About 2%, likely kinesthetic in their modality, like the smell feel and smell of physical books.

The 12% who said they enjoyed being relaxed while reading and having a quiet time, were close to identifying a significant health benefit from reading.

University of Sussex reported that a research found significant evidence that reading reduces stress. More effective than even listening to music, have a cuppa or taking a walk.

I am going to assume it is soothing music, and I am going to assume you will never discount flipping pages as the poor alternative again.

Cognitive neuropsychologist, Dr. David Lewis claimed that reading reduces stress by 68% whilst listening to music by 61%, having a cup of coffee or tea by 54% and taking a walk by 42%.  He found that reading silently for six minutes can slow down heart rate and ease muscle tension.
The next time you feel angst building, you’ll know what to do. Keep calm and carry on reading.

“Losing yourself in a book is the ultimate relaxation,” said Dr. Lewis.
Kurt Vonnegut, the prolific American writer agrees, “I believe that reading and writing are the most nourishing forms of meditation anyone has so far found. By reading the writings of the most interesting minds in history, we meditate with our own minds and theirs as well. This to me is a miracle.”
Of course, reading will make you a better writer. You will subconsciously adopt a style and the techniques that resonate with you. You will also improve your spelling as you grow your vocabulary. Mental Floss, a knowledge magazine, shared a finding that avid readers can improve their vocabulary and fact-based knowledge by 50%.

Instant Insight Built Over Years

In that same article, Mental Floss reported that a team at Yale University found that a daily dose of reading, for just 30 minutes at a go, may lengthen your lifespan by as much as two years. This conclusion is distilled from a study of 3600 adults over the age of 50 for 12 years.

So far, so good. The ‘brainergizing’ effect of reading and its life enhancing power are a zillion times worth the price on the cover of the book or a magazine subscription. From the Pew report, and as a human being yourself with human friends who read, you will appreciate that these benefits are unexpected bonuses. These are not the quo we expected. When we switched on our reading mode, it is not our intention to seek immortality nor to think faster than the peregrine falcon can fly.

What then is your intention when you pick up a book or sign in to Medium? If you are having a hard time, want to distract yourself and get lost, go ahead and get lost. Start that novel or that Medium article. You’ll still enjoy the brainergizing bonuses from reading. You may even get to get lost two years more than others, according to Mental Floss.

Learn to recall better

What if you want to remember what you read? What if you are serious about self-improvement? What if you want to apply what you’ve read to your life? Then, you’ve to be an active reader.

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