Many of us try to keep our minds sharp by doing puzzles and learning new things. But some of the other things we do might lower IQ. Read on to find out how you may be sabotaging your own intelligence.
Research has found that the following things and habits lower IQ and ruin cognitive functions. Some of these may surprise you while others make perfect sense.
1. Eating a fatty diet
A diet that is high in saturated fat can hamper our brain’s functioning and lower IQ. Studies have shown that fatty diets can impair our cognitive ability, reduce our reaction times, damage our memory and even cause feelings of depression. Saturated fat found in processed meat, cakes and biscuits is the worst culprit.
The University of Montreal study found that a high-fat diet can also affect our mood and that eating high-fat foods can be addictive and leave us to craving more.
So to keep your mind sharp, cut out the bacon!
Earl Miller is a neuroscientist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology who specialises in the area of multi-tasking and divided attention. He warns that:
“The brain is not wired to multitask. When people think they’re multitasking, they’re actually just switching from one task to another very rapidly and every time they do, there’s a cognitive cost.”
Just spotting an email mid-task is enough to lower IQ by 10 points! Our frontal lobes can only deal with a certain amount of information at one time. It’s a bit like when you open too many tabs on your browser and your computer freezes.
Multi-tasking means we are less efficient at everything we do. It also means that we do not get deep enough into the task to have real breakthroughs. So, if you want to do deep work, switch off the notifications.
3. Just Googling it
Being able to google information whenever we need it may be having an effect on our memory and cognitive abilities. When we can’t remember something, rather than thinking long and hard until we all the answer, we just ask Google.
Microsoft says our attention spans have suffered, falling from an average of 12 seconds 15 years ago to eight now. In addition, using Satnav may be affecting our spacial awareness as we no longer need to read maps.
4. Reality TV
Okay, this one is not so unexpected. An Austrian study has confirmed something that we’ve long suspected – TV may well be rotting our brains. Well, at least some reality TV.
In the study, some participants were shown a fake reality TV show about a football hooligan. After watching the show, the participants were given a general knowledge test. Those who had watched the show didn’t do as well the test as the participants who had not watched the show.
5. Disrupted Sleep
Studies on hamsters have shown that disruption to sleep patterns can affect our circadian rhythm – our day and night energy patterns. The effects can last for up to a month and can affect learning and cognitive function. Perhaps this is why so many new parents find it hard to concentrate!
Failing to get a good night’s sleep can have other negative health effects, including increased comfort eating and higher stress levels. Sticking to a regular routine can help to improve learning and cognitive function as well as general health.