THE BLOG
11/15/2011 08:47 am ET Updated Jan 15, 2012

3 Keys to Boosting Your Brain Power and Improving Your Memory

Key 1: Expand Your Neural Network

Studies show that the brain feeds off novel experiences. Seek them out and you feed your super-genius brain. Each time that you experience something that's new to you, whether it's challenges, facts or situations, your neural network will expand. Remember, for this exact reason variety of diverse experience and travel are critical.

Throughout your lifetime, your neural networks will both reorganize and reinforce themselves according to new mental stimuli and learning experiences. This body-mind/mind-body interaction stimulates our brain cells to grow and connect with each other in complicated ways. This occurs by expanding the branches of nerve fibers (known as dendrites from the Latin word for "tree"). Think of dendrites as antennas through which brain neurons communicate with one another. The more dendrites, and the more complex the branches, the better the signal.

Healthy neurons that are well-functioning neurons can be directly linked to thousands of other neurons, thus creating a sum of more than a hundred trillion connections -- each competent of performing 200 calculations every second! Basically, the neuron is the structural basis of the brain's thinking ability.

Key 2: Learning Boosts Brain Power and Improves Memory


According to several neuroscientists, the fundamental process of learning and memory comprise transformations between neurons at the synapse level. These changes, termed long-term potentiation (LTP), provide an easy way for neurons to communicate with one another, thus laying the foundation of memory production.

Neuroscientists at Brown University conducted studies that have since provided further evidence that learning uses LTP in order to produce changes in the synaptic connections between brain cells that are needed to gain and store new information.

These researchers conducted studies that taught rats a new motor skill. At the end of the study, scientists discovered that the rats' brains had also changed -- they had enlarged, and grown more connections. The more you learn, the better your learning ability becomes. The mere act of focusing, and learning the tips is actually expanding your brain as you go along.

Key 3: Reduce Cortisol Release

Controlling cortisol release is essential (for reviews, see Andersen et al., 1994; Cohen and Williamson, 1991; Spiegel et al., 1998). When your heart is pumping and your body feels ready for action, your brain may be coming under attack by cortisol. This is a hormone you produce when stressed, and while stress can temporarily heighten your response, over time, too much cortisol can degenerate the brain and cause more rapid aging. In fact, memory problems and "brain fog" are a common side effect of excess cortisol release. Your brain's hippocampus hates excessive cortisol.

I believe that the future in cognitive enhancement and anti-aging will be centered to a great degree around reducing the release of cortisol in the body.  

I recommend a three-tier approach including a proper diet consisting of low carbohydrate foods and rich in omega-3 fatty acids. The second tier is proper heart pumping exercise and finally a carefully planned supplementation regime. Any brain boosting plan should be designed to dramatically reduce cortisol release and absolutely must address these three areas. Recent research is showing that reducing cortisol may help your body cope with stress more intelligently. It also may help to protect you from many degenerative and neurodegenerative diseases. With the right approach and simply by reducing cortisol release, you can get smarter faster and stay smarter longer. For those with fast, pressurized lives, this can literally be a lifesaver.

Shaahin Cheyene is an entrepreneur, speaker and author. He is founder of the brain nutrition start-ups Excelerol and Accelerated Intelligence Inc.