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IQ stands for intelligence quotient and was the standard for measuring intelligence for decades. A person’s IQ is determined by a specific standardized test. A score of 100 is considered average with anything above or below 100 considered to be above or below average respectively.

For many years, scientists believed that a person’s IQ was genetically determined and that there was no way for a person to raise their IQ. Later, this was proven to be false when children were able to train their brains and reach a higher IQ. More recently still, research has shown that adults are capable of changing their IQ.

A person’s IQ is made up of several factors all of which influence a person’s reasoning ability. Both short-and long-term memory play a part in determining a person’s IQ as does how quickly a person can recall information. The ability to use logic and information to answer questions or make predictions influence a person’s IQ . Recognizing patterns and puzzle-solving skills form part of a person’s IQ as well.

The score that a person achieves on the IQ test is the result of a number of interrelated factors. Improving only one of these factors, such as memory or recall, will not raise a person’s IQ in any serious way. An increase in puzzle-solving skills might bring about a temporary jump in IQ but not a lasting one. Science has found, however, ways for a person to train all parts of their brain and raise their IQ in a way that will last. Here are five scientifically proven ways a person can permanently raise their IQ.

Keep Learning New Things

The brain is based on connections between different nerve cells called neurons. Every time a person takes an action or thinks a thought, electricity jumps across the connections between neurons. If something is done over and over, the connections for a pathway become natural and automatic. This is where the idea of “muscle memory” comes into play, however, muscles actually have nothing to do with it. When the brain repeatedly makes a specific series of connections, it becomes automatic. A major league pitcher’s neurons become extremely used to making the correct series of connections that correspond to him throwing a fastball. He no longer has to think about his movements, they happen automatically like adults no longer have to think about bending their knees when they walk. The motions, and the neural connections that create those motions, are automatic.

Overtime, these well-worn pathways become more and more efficient. It takes less and less brainpower to walk, throw a fastball or play a basic piece on a piano. When a person learns something new, however, the brain has no pre-created pathways to fall back on. The brain has to create an entirely new system of pathways and connections. For a person to raise their IQ, their brain needs to be constantly creating these new pathways. The person needs to study unfamiliar things and try new activities. Learning to speak a new language or play a new instrument are classic examples of brain-training activities. In fact, those two activities are so successful at creating new neural pathways that people with declining brain function are encourage to begin learning to speak a new language or play a new instrument. The sheer number of new pathways created can help slow or stop the deterioration of the mind. In a healthy brain, those new pathways increase a person’s brain function and can raise their IQ.

Do Things the Hard Way

Human beings love efficiency. From the first wheel to the iPhone X, technology is created almost entirely to make human tasks more efficient. That efficiency, however, lets the brain get lazy. The brain is like every other part of the human body. If it does not work hard, it deteriorates. Inventions such as the GPS, calculator and reminder apps make human lives much more convenient, but those inventions allow the brain to relax. Then, just like a muscle that never gets a workout, the brain atrophies. If a person never has to remember directions, their sense of direction deteriorates because the brain never has to grow in that area.

In order to raise a person’s IQ, they need to make their brain work even at everyday tasks. Instead of pulling out a calculator, a person who wants to raise their IQ should do the math either on a piece of paper or in their head. Rather than relying on a GPS, a person should force themselves to learn street names and find their way around a city or try and recreate where they went over the weekend on a map. The human body conserves energy wherever it can. If the brain is not forced to use energy and work, it will not, and a brain that does not work hard is a brain that does not grow.

Broadening Horizons

Brain growth is not just caused by more academic learning. Brains need to recall or practice what they have been learning. A person wanting to grow their IQ needs to work every aspect of their brain. That includes interacting with new people, cultures and ideas. A person who wants to grow their IQ needs to be exposed to new things. If possible, they should travel and see new cultures. If they are learning a new language, they should visit an area that speaks that language and put their new skills into practice.

In the modern world, a person does not need to get on a plane to encounter a new culture. A person who is working to broaden their horizons could visit immigrant friends and learn about the culture of their homeland. Many cities have a “Chinatown” or an area that is “Little Italy.” Visit these neighborhoods and speak with the people. A person looking to grow their IQ could also, with permission, join a friend of a different religion at for a service or discuss a hot button topic with someone of a different political ideology. Interacting with people of a different background will broaden a person’s horizons as long as they bring an open mind and a willingness to listen and learn. A closed mind will not help a person raise their IQ.

Take Care of the Body

Care of the body is as important as care of the mind. This is because the brain is part of the body. A person who does not take care of their body will find it more difficult than it needs to be to grow their brain. A person who wants to raise their IQ needs to eat right. Ditch the chips and canned “cheese-type food,” and cut up some green beans or roast a couple potatoes. Protein is essential to brain growth as are a wide variety of vitamins. Unfortunately, nutritional deficiencies are still common. The spread of vegetarianism and veganism has contributed to an increase in vitamin B12 deficiencies as this vitamin is only found in animal products. B12 is also one of the most essential vitamins for brain growth. A lack of B12 can cause “brain fog” and lead to memory issues, lost concentration or even lasting brain damage.

Exercise is also important to brain growth. The endorphins released by exercise help get more oxygen and glucose to the brain, both of which are essential for brain growth. Cardio workouts also help burn off the stress hormone cortisol and promote the growth of new connections between neurons. Spending half an hour on a treadmill is a wise choice for a person trying to increase their IQ.

In addition to healthy eating and exercise, sleep is essential to brain growth. Anyone who has gone to work the day after a sleepless night will remember having little energy, low motivation, trouble concentrating and difficulty recalling information, if they remember much of the day at all. A sleep debt will hurt a person’s ability to create new memories. There is a reason that 17 hours without sleep is comparable to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.05, more than half-way to the level of legal intoxication. In addition to its importance in forming memories, sleep is also the time when the body flushes naturally occurring toxins out of the brain. If a person does not go to sleep, those toxins build up and can cause brain inflammation and permanent damage.

Choose “Smart” Entertainment

Everyone needs time to relax, and a person trying to raise their IQ is no exception to this rule. A person who wants to promote brain growth, however, should have discriminating taste in their entertainment. A person trying to raise their IQ should spend their down time doing activities that require at least some manner of focus or thought. Rather than clicking mindlessly through Facebook, a person looking to encourage brain growth could play Sudoku, Scrabble or do a crossword puzzle. Instead of watching YouTube cat videos, pick up a book or factual magazine such as “BBC History” or “Science Magazine.” Read from a variety of genres, and make it a point to include some “serious” books such as classic fiction or commercial nonfiction. If a person trying to grow their IQ really needs to put their feet up on the couch and watch TV, they should turn to documentaries and informative channels such as National Geographic or Discovery Channel rather than watching two hours of reality TV. For those who want to spend their down time doing something challenging, playing the Duel n-back game has been proven to help grow a person’s IQ at least temporarily.

A high IQ is a commendable goal, and science has identified several ways to help people reach that goal. Even if a person’s score on their IQ test does not increase, the habits that help increase a person’s IQ encourage a healthier, more open-minded and creative lifestyle. Brain growth can also affect a person in ways other than increasing their performance on a standardized test. Increased brain growth can lead to a new outlook on life, the ability to take better advantage of new opportunities and a healthier brain.

Despite the desirability of a high IQ, the reality is that a person’s IQ is not the only measure of their intelligence or the best predictor of their success. Each person’s brain works in a slightly different way, and each person channels their intelligence differently. A low IQ does not necessarily mean that a person is unintelligent or destined for failure. The IQ test is just one way of measuring intelligence. A person’s drive, passion, ambition, creativity and perseverance are far more indicative of future success than the results of a standardized test.

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