Brace yourself. I’m going in to the vaults for some old school sayings from my nana - purely in the name of science. And to help you learn some new skills. You’ll thank me later - but apols in advance if you find yourself sounding like an old lady for the rest of the week.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT?
Taking regular rests could increase learning capacity.
Practice, practice, practice. Three cardinal rules for learning new skills, right? Maybe not. In a study by the National Institute of Health, it was found that the greatest change to the brain came during the rests between learning activities, not during the learning itself.
If at first you don’t succeed…
Here’s the science bit. Healthy volunteers were asked to type a series of numbers as many times as possible for ten seconds, take a ten-second break and repeat 35 times. Looking at the data, it was found that the volunteers’ performance improved primarily during the rest periods, not during typing; and the gains they recorded during rests added up to their overall performance gains throughout the exercise.
Good things come to those who wait
By looking at the pattern of brain waves, the researchers found patterns suggesting the volunteers’ brains were creating memories during the rest periods (if you want to get technical, the changes in beta rhythms correlated with the improvements in the volunteers performance). So, by waiting (or, having a rest), they were solidifying their learning into memory.
Have your cake, and eat it too
(The practice being the ‘cake’, and the rest being the ‘too’.)
So what am I really saying here? Essentially, if you’re trying to learn something new, or want to get better at a certain task, taking breaks is just as important as perseverance in order to solidify the information as a memory in your brain. Remember those tips we had about habit-making? (Of course you do, but in case you need a refresher, here they are again.) Try combining those with taking short breaks to develop new skills more quickly and easily.
FOR THE NERDY: Take a break. [Source: Neuroscience News]
Want More of This? Get Some Brain Food Every Week.
BRAIN FOOD - BERRY CHERRY SMOOTHIE
This week’s brain-healthy recipe is courtesy of our follow recco from last week, Lizzie Loves Healthy. As soon as June hits I’m firmly on the smoothies-for-breakfast train, and this one’s a corker.
Why is it good for my brain?
Berries are in season right now, so it’s awesome to be able to buy local. I quite often like to stock up and chuck them in the freezer (little Dan-hack there for you). Anyway berries (especially blueberries), are pumped with antioxidants and vitamin C, which improve immune function, cognitive function and protect from free radicals. Chia seeds give you some omega 3s, fibre and protein; and a sneaky half an avocado also provides you with all-important good fats, potassium and may help with the absorption of other nutrients in your smoothie.
What you’ll need: coconut milk, cherries, berries, avocado, banana, milled seeds (this recipe uses goji berries and linseeds but any will work), chia seeds, optional protein powder (check the package for sneaky sugar content). (You can click the button below to automatically add all these to your usual food shop. 🙌)
Cooking time: 3 minutes
Measure and place all ingredients in a blender. Whiz for a minute. Drink straight away, save for up to 10 hours in the fridge, or freeze into smoothie pops.
WHAT WE LOVE THIS WEEK
Watch: The man, the cube, the legend. How Mr Rubik figured out the code to his own invention. [youtube]
Read: Why is it that hot chocolate looks so much more delicious in a red mug? A super interesting read on why certain colours are more appealing to our appetites. [psychology today]
Listen: Is your mind in control of your brain? A pretty funny take on what our brains are doing without our knowledge from panel show podcast, The Infinite Monkey Cage. [acast]
Follow: Isa Robinson, a nutritionist in training with an interest in intuitive eating and gentle nutrition. We asked her to share her top brain health tip:
“I am intrigued by the growing body of literature on nutritional psychiatry and how what we eat may influence mood. One tip specifically I have with regard to supporting my brain health is including 2-3 portions of oily fish per week. I like to use the acronym SMASH to remember the types of oily fish which include sardines, mackerel, anchovies, salmon and herring.”
See her full blog post here, where she discusses the science behind omega 3 fatty acids.
Want to dine with me, my Co Founder Joel, learn about the brain and give to charity? Two of our Dawn subscribers (yup, people just like you) are hosting a dinner for Duchenne, a muscle wasting disease that typically affects young boys, and is usually fatal by age 20.
Duchenne has no public funding and yet researchers believe they are only five years away from a cure - so our goal is to help them get there by giving our time and talking all things brain.
Date: 31st July. Tickets are £50 and include 3 incredible plant based courses and wine to match. And just so you don’t get any surprises on the night - we are taking the conversation a little further afield than usual: "Mind Altering Compounds - from green tea to ayahuasca, omega 3 to DMT - A chat on the safe and sound to the out of body profound..."
Grab a ticket here - it all goes to charity. See you there?