Can you make yourself smarter with brain exercise? A question that many scientists in our current knowledge society are already awake at. The answer to this now seems to be ‘yes’. At least: if we can believe the results of ‘Hack my Brain’, the new documentary by Todd Sampson.
“Hack my brain” is a three-part documentary series in which presenter and guinea pig par excellence Todd Sampson examines the elasticity of the human brain. To what extent can you, through exercising, ensure that your brain remains completely up-to-date, that your memory continues to work optimally and that the capacities of your gray matter, instead of gradually deteriorating, are just going to increase? Those are the main questions that are thoroughly examined on the show.
The results of the television experiment are really astonishing: through good and regular brain exercise, it turns out that it is possible to boost the functions of your brain, and literally make yourself ‘smarter’.
Underwater escape tests “physical intelligence”
The show follows Chinese volunteer Sampson on a journey around the world. For three months, the camera records how the host learns to widen the attention span of his brain, how to optimize his thinking speed, and how he attempts to make his memory run more efficiently. In addition, there is plenty of experimentation with the speed and efficiency of creative and innovative thinking through brain exercise.
The final part of the documentary shows how Sampson is also testing his “physical intelligence”: in a spectacular underwater escape action, the vicarious Houdini learns to use biological feedback techniques to control his physical and emotional responses. In order not to subject it to his feelings, but to his reason.
52 cards in ten minutes
The results of the three-month brain exercise are startling. The speed with which Sampson was able to think in a problem-solving way actually doubled, and the extent to which his memory could store things – and occasionally recover them – improved considerably.
For example, after the experiment, Sampson managed to memorize a full card deck within ten minutes. Two hours later, he was also able to bring out the complete series of 52 cards entirely backward. And that while the man did not even manage to remember a series of six cards before the brain exercise.
Juggling for a better brain
A very playful way to improve your brain capacity is to juggle a few times a week only. “It’s a complex activity that requires the brain to focus on many things at the same time,” Sampson said.
Juggling ensures that your mind learns to focus; it optimizes your reaction speed, it sharpens your eyesight, and it tests your organ of balance. “For more fun and more effect, you can also try it with your eyes closed or on one leg,” Sampson laughs.
Test your brain: take a walk
Fortunately for the non-juggling mortals among us, there are also more straightforward ways to train your memory. For example, every day, a walk of around 25 minutes can already work wonders.
According to Sampson, the most important thing is to stimulate our brains more in everyday activities. “For example, don’t count on your mobile phone for remembering a new number, or try to put a name on all faces as soon as possible at the next party.”
Weapon in the fight against old age
However, the main result of Sampson’s experimental wandering remains that everyone, regardless of age, race, or sex, has the opportunity to improve the functioning of their gray matter. That thought is compelling and can change lives profoundly, says Sampson.
Especially in the medical battle against diseases like dementia or Alzheimer’s, the results of Sampson’s research can weigh through. Through proper brain exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, the symptoms of these diseases may not be stopped, but they can be suppressed for a while.
Rehearsal, rehearsal, whoever does his best will learn
As with all good things in life, it is imperative to repeat the ‘brain exercising activities’ regularly. “If you want to continue to see its long-term benefits, it comes down to doing the exercises regularly,” says Sampson. “Just like with fitness actually,” he laughs.
For those who do not want to wait until old age hits mercilessly, and want to start working with their brain, Sampson has already provided some helpful tests.