Posted: Tue, July 16, 2013 | By: Brain Health
by Hank Pellissier
Infectious Disease - Researchers at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, in 2010, examined the correlation between a nation’s average cognitive ability and it’s intensity of infectious disease. Testing their theory on the fifty United States, they found positive correlation. Internationally, they also discovered that nations with the lowest average national IQs have the highest burdens of infectious diseases. The four main infectious diseases that cause mental damage are listed below.
Malaria: The “brain insult” of malaria is horrendous. One international study defines cerebral malaria “as the presence of coma” leaving victims with neurophysiological impairment to brain regions associated with planning, decision-making, self-awareness, and social sensitivity. University of New Mexico researchers state, “From an energetics standpoint, a developing human will have difficulty building a brain and fighting off infectious diseases at the same time, as both are very metabolically costly tasks.” Bill Gates 2011 letter to his foundation included a graph showing that countries with a higher disease burden have lower average IQs.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea weakens the immune system and can quickly lead the sufferer to malnutrition, pneumonia, and a host of additional plagues. University of New Mexico researchers note that, “if exposed to diarrhoeal diseases during their first five years, individuals may experience lifelong detrimental effects to their brain development, and thus intelligence. Parasites may [also] negatively affect cognitive function in other ways, such as infecting the brain directly…” A 2011 study of 116 slum youngsters scrutinized by Christian Medical College in Tamil Nadu, India, concluded that children with a history of protozoan diarrhea (i.e., giardial) end up with a “significantly lower IQ,” University of Virginia School of Medicine determined in a report that “Diarrhoea in children from impoverished areas during their first 2 years might cause, on average, [a] 10 IQ point decrement by the time they are 7-9 years old.”
Tuberculosis: Tuberculosis - commonly associated with the lungs - has the potential to attack the brain, causing Tuberculosis Meningitis (TBM). Although this occurs in only 1% of TB cases in developed nations, reports indicate that TB leads to TBM in Nigeria between 7.8-14% of the time. The result? At least 20% of survivors are left with severe brain damage. This situation is duplicated in other developing nations. Tuberculosis also creates a severe toll on the immune system, retarding the cognitive development of young children.
Intestinal Worms (helminth infections): Intestinal worms have been associated with reduced IQ in many studies; one estimate is that “the average IQ loss for children left untreated is 3.75 points per worm infection.” A 1995 UC Davis article concludes that “there is evidence that high intensities of [hook]worms can affect mental performance, but not all dewormed children show improved performance.” The study discusses how the “mechanisms of worms “might affect the mind.”
NUTRITION AND EXERCISE
Breast-feeding - A 2010 Bristol, UK, study reported an increase of 5.49 IQ points in children who were breast-fed for three months. A 2006 Brown University study also recorded a 5.0 IQ rise, in low birth weight infants who received breast milk. In Maximixing Intelligence, by David J. Armor, the author claims: “there is a 7-point difference in IQ… between children who are breastfed and those who are not [however] when the effect of mother’s IQ is removed, the difference drops to two points.” Research by Oxford University and Essex University asserts that infants breastfed for just four weeks are granted a 3 point IQ boost. Arkansas Children’s Nutrition Center reported in 2012 that breast-fed infants scored “slightly higher” than formula-fed infants on cognitive tests. University of Toronto found “association of breastfeeding duration with full scale and performance IQ.” VU University (Amsterdam) says the advantage of breastfeeding is 1.6 IQ points. Brown University research indicates that “Breastfed children exhibited increased white matter development in several brain regions, that are anatomically consistent with observed improvements in cognitive and behavioral performance measures.” Umea University in Sweden associated breastfeeding with “beneficial effects on IQ and developmental scores of children.” Children’s Hospital in Rome concluded that, “breastfed healthy children may perform better on neuropsychological tests in the language domain at 10 to 12 years of age. However, the effect of breast milk on neuropsychological performance in healthy children may have a limited clinical relevance and is confounded by parental education.”
BreastFeeding on Demand - A University of Essex study reached the conclusion that “schedule-fed babies performed… 4 points lower in IQ tests at age 8 years” than their demand-fed counterparts.
Formula supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids. A University of Dundee (United Kingdom) study revealed that revealed that children who were fed formula supplemented with long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids “were faster at processing information compared with children who received unsupplemented formula.”
Early Weight Gain and Head Circumference - University of Adelaide (Australia) researchers determined “that babies who put on 40% of the birth weight in the first four weeks had an IQ 1.5 points higher by the time they were six.” Growth in head circumference was also linked to higher IQ.
Micronutrients - On the website nextbigfuture, Brian Wang asserts that “if everyone had optimal levels of of micronutrients the IQ of over half the world would be increased by up to 20 IQ points.” Three ingredients needed for optimal brain development are posted below:
Iodine Deficiency - Children who do not receive sufficient quantities of the 53rd element can suffer 12.2 point IQ drop, according to data compiled in 2002 by Tianjin Medical University. The website micronutrient.org suggests “the loss of intellectual capacity by as much as 10 to 15 percentage points.” Swiss Federal Institute of Technology suggests that “iodine-deficient populations experience a mean reduction in IQ of 12-13.5 points.” University of Surrey (United Kingdom) research asserts that children of women with an iodine deficiency were more likely to have “scores in the lowest quartile for verbal IQ, reading accuracy, and reading comprehension.” The World Health Organization labels iodine deficiency the “single greatest preventable cause of mental retardation,” and there are 1.5 billion at risk of contracting Iodine Deficiency Disorder.
Iron Deficiency - After anemic children in India were given iron supplementation, 88.6% of them experienced IQ gains, with 51.4% gaining more than 10 points. The 2010 study was by the Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, in Chandrigahr, India. Jintan People’s Hospital (China) reports that children in their study who had anemia had significantly lower scores in performance IQ, but not verbal IQ. Nextbigfuture.com notes that lack of iron affects IQ scores “by as much as 5 to 7 points.”
Zinc Deficiency - Children aged 6-11 with zinc deficiency showed “marked improvement in memory after supplementation,” claims a 2011 report from Madras Medical College in India. Max Hospital (Haryana, India) disagrees. It study claims that there is “no convincing evidence that zinc supplementation to infants or children results in improved motor or mental development.”
Severe Malnutrition - A 2003 UCLA study of 1,559 malnourished children on the island of Mauritius revealed that the subjects had a 15.3 IQ deficit at the age of 11. A 2012 study by University of York (United Kingdom) determined that “malnutrition, stunting and anemia at age 3 were associated with low IQ at age 11.” (Poor prenatal nutrition was also associated with schizophrenia spectrum disorders.) A 2013 essay in Nutrition Neuroscience reports that infant malnutrition was associated with “significantly elevated incidence of impaired IQ in adulthood [and] An episode of malnutrition during the first year of life carries risk for significant lifelong functional morbidity.”.
High Nutrition For Premies- A 2008 study by University College London Institute of Child Health reports that adolescents who were “assigned a high-nutrient diet in the postnatal weeks after pre-term birth… had significantly larger caudate nucleus volumes and higher Verbal IQ.” The study concludes that “human brain structure can be influenced by early nutrition.”
Healthy Diet - Data on the eating habits of 3,966 children was compiled in 2011 by University of Bristol (UK) researchers. The result was that a poor diet (high fat and sugar content) was 5 IQ points lower than a health-conscious diet (salad, rice, pasta, fish, fruit) - 101 points vs. 106 points. A diet rich in B Vitamins is also useful in optimizing IQ potential. Another study by researchers at University of Adelaide (Australia) determined that children who ate a lot of “biscuits, chocolate, sweets, soda, crisps) were associated with 1-2 point lower IQ, whereas children who ate a diet plentiful in “herbs, legumes, cheese, raw fruit and vegetables” has a 1-2 point higher IQ. Sugar - UCLA researcher Fernando Gomez-Pinella reported that “eating a high-fructose diet over the longterm alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information.” The study - published in the Journal of Physiology - suggested that omega-3 fatty acids can help protect or heal the brain from this damage.
Wheat - A 2011 study of 290 Japanese schoolchildren revealed that those who ate wheat everyday had IQs that averaged 4.0 points lower than non-wheat eaters (i.e., rice eaters). The Japanese children who ate white rice and avoided wheat had “significantly larger grey matter volumes in several regions, including left superior temporal gyrus.” Nutritionists believe a neurotoxin in wheat germ is to blame. The neurotoxin attaches itself to the protective coating on the neurons; it’s presence there injures the growth, health, and survival of brain cells. All grains contain “natural food toxins” to protect themselves from being eaten by mammals; the safest grain is white rice because it’s toxic substances are largely annihilated by cooking.
Post-Natal Tea - A study from the University of Shizuoka, Japan (2011) discovered that theanine - an amino acid component in green tea - “facilitates neurogenesis in the developing hippocampus, followed by enhanced recognition memory” with researchers concluding that “theanine intake may be of benefit to the postnatal development of hippocampal function.
Exercise John Ratey, MD, author of Spark, says exercise is “Miracle-Gro for the brain” because it stimulates neuron growth. Swings, rocking toys, and spinning equipment are cognitive enhancers for toddlers because they stimulate different brain regions at the same time; building new pathways; and enhancing learning potential, spatial awareness, and rhythm.
Age of Attainment - NOT A RISK —The Centre for Child and Adolescent Health (Bangladesh) reports that the “age of attainment” of walking and standing alone was not “sensitive enough to be used as an indicator of later IQ.”
Poor Motor Performance - NOT A RISK - Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Belgium) noted that “individuals with a lower measured IQ more often showed poorer motor performance than those with a higher measured IQ, [but] motor skill at all levels of proficiency [were] seen in all IQ categories.”
Lead Poisoning - A 2011 University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey study of children in Chennai, India, reported a decrease of 4- 9 IQ points. Before Egypt eliminated leaded gasoline, the average child there lost 4.25 IQ points. A 2001 School of Public Health at Albany Rensselaer study estimated the cost of lead overexposure as a “permanent loss of IQ of approximately 5 to 7 points.” (Lead often lurks in old paint chips and many bright-colored toys). A CUNY School of Public Health at Hunter College study found that, in children exposed to hazardous waste sites in 7 Asian countries, the “decrements ranged from 4.94 to 14.96 IQ points.” University of Pennsylvania research determined that “blood lead concentrations in early childhood, have a long-term negative impact on cognitive development.” New York University researchers estimate the financial cost of lead poisoning in the developing world at a staggering $992 billion annually, due to “reductions in IQs and earning potential.” Lead in the developing world is often found in paint, batteries, and hazardous waste sites.
Leaded Gasoline in Taiwan - A National Health Research Institutes (Taiwan) study showed that exposure to lead particles in leaded gas will decrease children’s IQ and delay their neurodevelopment.
Gamebirds shot with lead ammunition - University of Cambridge study found the consumption of 1 meal of game birds a week associated with a 1 point IQ loss in children.
Manganese Poisoning - A ten-fold increase of the 25th element in children’s drinking water led to a 2.4 point IQ loss, notes a 2011 University of Quebec at Montreal study. Eulji University (South Korea) determined that excess manganese in children was associated with “lower scores of thinking, reading, calculation.” Andalusian School of Public Health (Spain) estimated that “a 50% increase of manganese levels… would be associated with a decrease of 0.7 points in the IQ of children aged 6-13 years.”
Phenobarbital Usage - Children treated for febrile seizures with phenobarbital had their IQs reduced by 3.71 points, reports a 1999 University of Washington study.
Cadmium - Karolinska Institutet (Sweden) research finds cadmium exposure linked to lower intelligence scores in children.
Fluoride Poisoning - A 2007 study of rural communities in Mexico by Universidad de San Luis Potosi asserts that 6-10 year-old children who had excessively high fluoride in their drinking water experienced a 10.2 point drop in IQ scores. A similar 10.0 IQ drop was evidenced by children aged 8-12 exposed to high-fluoride drinking water in Shanxi, China, notes a 2007 report from the Shanxi Institute for Prevention and Treatment of Endemic Disease. Twenty-four Studies have reported a correlation between fluoride exposure and lowered IQ, many of them in China. Fluoride and arsenic poisoning in China is generally caused by the burning of low-grade coal, and it’s affected more than 45 million people.
Pesticide Poisoning - A 2011 UC Berkeley study indicates that high postnatal (and postnatal) exposure to organophosphate pesticides caused a deficit of 7 IQ points.
Indoor Mold - A 2011 Jagiellonian University Medical College study, in Krakow, Poland, reports that young children living in mold-contaminated homes had “tripled the risk of low IQ scoring.”
Second-Hand Smoke - A 2010 Seoul National university College (South Korea) reported that “exposure to tobacco smoke in children is associated with poor neurocognitive performance.” A 2013 Northumbria University (United Kingdom) study opined that “Non-smokers exposed to second-hand smoke may suffer impairment in time-based prospective memory.”
Alcoholic Fathers - A McGill University study of alcohol consumption in former Soviet countries suggests that children whose fathers are moderate or heavy drinkers lose an average of 1.5 - 2.5 IQ points.
Measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccination (NO RISK) - University Medical College (Poland) says “there is no relationship between MMR exposure and children’s cognitive development.”
NeoNatal Morphine (NO RISK) - Researchers at Erasmus MC-Sophia Children’s Hospital ( Rotterdam, The Netherlands) report that morphine treatments of children during the neonatal period “does not harm general functioning.”
Shaken Baby Syndrome (SBS) - is a form of physical abuse that can cause severe traumatic brain injury. “Significant weaknesses” have been reported in IQ, working memory, and mental organization, with the greatest deficit “on the verbal sphere.”
Trauma and Spankings: A 2002 study from the Children’s Hospital of Michigan concludes that “a child experiencing both violence exposure and trauma-related distress… would be expected to have a 7.5-point decrement in IQ and a 9.8 decrement in reading achievement.” A Stanford Hospital study suggests that, “children’s risk for learning and behavior problems… rises in correlation to their level of trauma exposure….children experiencing four types of trauma were 30 times more likely to have behavior and learning problems than those not exposed to trauma.” Trauma releases toxic levels of the hormone cortisol, which can destroy neurons in the hippocampus, a region that supports factual and episodic memory. When University of Sheffield researchers surveyed 55 homeless adults, they discovered that 89% of them had experienced emotional abuse, emotional neglect, physical neglect and sexual abuse. The homeless adults also had an average IQ of 88. Children’s Hospital in Boston reported a similar 7.5 point decline, if children were exposed to trauma in the first two years of life. Chongqing Medical University (China) research claims juvenile violent offenders had both lower IQ and more childhood trauma. On the bright side? Michigan State University research suggests that trauma victims vary in their response - victims with lower IQ are more likely to experience PTSD.
Harsh Corporal Punishment - A 2009 Harvard Medical School study examined the neurobiological consequences of people who were exposed to HCP for a minimum of 3 years duration, “12 episodes a year, frequently involving objects.” The subjects suffered a reduction in their brain’s gray matter volume in three areas: 19.1% in the right medial frontal gyrus, 14.5% in the left medial frontal gyrus, and 16.9% in the right anterior cingulate gyrus. Your children might be your constant companions in the summertime, so make sure your behavior is brain-benign, not threatening. Studies show that spankings reduce IQ by 2.8 to 5.0 points. Child Abuse - King’s College (United Kingdom) research suggests a link “between child abuse and deficits in IQ, memory, working memory, attention… Structural neuroimaging studies provide evidence for deficits in brain volume, gray and white matter of several regions, most prominently the dorsolateral and ventromedial prefrontal cortex but also hippocampus, amygdala, and corpus callosum.”
Child Sexual Abuse: Multiple studies assert that children subjected to sexual abuse suffer parallel damage to their brain development. For example, a Yale University study has linked childhood sexual abuse to “long-term deficits in verbal short-term memory” - a result that resembles the damage observed in “patients with combat-related PTSD.”
Parental Verbal Abuse - A joint 2009 study between Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and Catholic University of South Korea revealed that the brain’s white matter was reduced in subjects who experienced maternal verbal abuse. The three areas were the arcuate fasciculus in left superior temporal gyrus, cingulum bundle by the posterior tail of the left hippocampus, and the left body of the fornix. Verbal IQ was subsequently reduced. Another Harvard 2011 study showed 14.1% reduction of gray matter volume in the left superior temporal gyrus. Yelling at your children can be detrimental as well. Harvard research suggests that “parental verbal abuse” damages a child’s verbal IQ.
Witnessing Domestic Violence - A 2003 Boston University study noted that “children exposed to high levels of domestic violence have IQs that are, on average, 8 points lower than unexposed children.” A 2011 report from Harvard Medical School/McLean Hospital and the Catholic University of Korea notes that “Witnessing domestic violence is a traumatic childhood experience associated with… reduced IQ scores.” Female Genital Mutilation: Although FGM is a “traditional ritual” it needs to also be regarded as a violent, traumatic episode that can likely damage the cognitive development of the victims, generally girls aged 4-12. The World Health Organization (WHO) agrees, asserting that FGM poses a “mental health risk.”
Maternal Depression - A 2001 Cardiff University study reported “the children of women who were depressed at three months postpartum had significantly lower IQ scores.” A 2004 University of Pittsburgh study noticed that an “increase in caregiver depression was related to decline in IQ scores.”
Maternal Bonding - A 2010 study of 4 year-olds reports that close relationships between mother-child produced a higher IQ. Haceteppe University Faculty of Medicine, in Ankara, Turkey, conducted the research.
Mother’s Education - In Maximizing Intelligence, by David J. Armor, the author claims: “At age five, children whose mothers are high school dropouts have an average IQ of 93, while children whose mothers finished college have an average IQ of 108, a spread of 15 points.” Auckland University of Technology (New Zealand) studies also found that the education of the mother is “a consistent and key determinant of childhood IQ.”
Father’s Education - The Auckland University of Technology, in the same study noted above, found that “Father’s education a key driver for increasing IQ levels above the average.”
Mother’s IQ - In Maximizing Intelligence, by David J. Armor, the author claims: “Children whose mothers have IQs around 120 score about 10 points higher, on average, than those whose mothers have IQs around 70… Each 10-point increase in a mother’s IQ is associated with an increase of… two points in the child’s IQ.”
Mother’s Age - In Maximizing Intelligence, by David J. Armor, the author claims: “Children whose mothers were younger than 19 when they were born have average IQ scores of 96… those whose mothers were born in their late twenties have average scores of 101.” Studies also indicate that young mothers are more likely to physically and emotionally abuse their children. A 2009 University of Pittsburgh study noted that the offspring of adolescent mothers scored 4.0 points lower on IQ tests.
Emotional Support - In Maximizing Intelligence, author David J. Armor notes that a loving, nurturing home is beneficial for mental development. He claims, “An increase in parent’s emotional support is associated with a 5-point increase in child’s IQ.”
Family Status - In Maximizing Intelligence, author David J. Armor claims, after looking at data in the same socio-economic group, “children with never-wed mothers have IQ scores of 94, those with father absent score 99. and those with both parents at home score 100.”
Family Poverty, Socio-Economic Class - In Maximizing Intelligence, author David J. Armor claims: “Children from families who were below the poverty line… had average IQs of only 93 - children in the highest income bracket had average IQs of 106.” The difference in IQ between the lower and the upper-middle economic classes in the United States is 12-18 points, notes Op-Ed columnist Nicholas D. Kristof in The New York Times. Dominant social classes around the world have higher IQs: Catholics in North Ireland have an average IQ 15 points less than Protestants, Maori IQ in New Zealand is less than European, Roma (Gypsy) IQ is low throughout Europe, and Sephardic Jews have a lower IQ than Ashkenazi in Israel. Richard Nisbett, and the University of Michigan, has written about “the 12-point to 18-point increase in IQ when children are adopted from working-class to middle-class homes.”
Keep Families Small - Children in small families (three kids or fewer) have a higher average IQ than children in families of four or more children. Oldest children also generally have the highest IQ, claims a 2008 report [pdf] by researchers from UCLA and University College Dublin, compiled from data from the Norwegian School of Economics. In Maximizing Intelligence, author David J. Armor claims: “Due to ‘dilution of resources’ the larger the number of children born to a mother the lower the IQ of her children. Children from a one-child family score 104, children from a four child family have IQs of 97, children in families with five or more children have average IQs of 92. After adjusting for mother’s IQ, the children IQ gap is still 10 points with one versus five or more children.” Urban Upgrade – Moving from a pastoral environment into cities implements an IQ boost, due to urbanism’s increased complexity, literacy, and technology. A Hanoi National University study in 2006 showed a whopping 19.4 IQ difference between city and country students. A 1970 survey in Greece recorded a difference of 10-13 points. Other studies note smaller discrepancies of only 2-6 points, but unanimously, urban residents always score higher.
Sleep? - Research at Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals (United Kingdom) claimed that “associations between infant/child sleep characteristics and IQ were… limited.” Disagreeing with this is a University of Pennsylvania study of Chinese kindergarteners that reports, “children with difficulty maintaining sleep, sleep talking, sleep resistance, or nightmares scored 2-3 points lower in full IQ than children without sleep problems.”
Psychosocial and Cognitive Stimulation - The University of the West Indies conducted research in 2005 of stunted Jamaican children aged 9-24 months. The study concluded that psychosocial stimulation of the subjects produced “higher full scale IQ scores.” Similarly, deprived children removed from Romanian institutions experienced gains in IQ, notes a 2011 article published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In Maximizing Intelligence, author David J. Armor claims: “Children need a wide variety of intellectual stimuli in their lives, relationships, and environment. Using a survey that listed ten contributing factors that aid mental development, it was determined that the gap between children with the highest cognitive stimulation, and children with the lowest, was 12 IQ points.”
Preschool and “Preschool Intervention” - A 2010 study at the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Health in Maharashtra, India, indicated that children aged 4-6 advanced 10.2 IQ points if they were placed in preschool education programs. The Milwaukee Project, conducted in Wisconsin in the late 1960’s to early 1970’s - provided intense intervention to 6 month old children who were at high risk of mental retardation. The result, for children exiting the program at 5 years of age and receiving testing at age 13, was an IQ gain of 10 points. Three other early childcare intervention programs also significantly elevated IQ. They are, with the IQ gain noted adjacently: NC Abecedarian (4.7), NC Project CARE (13.2), and Infant Health IHDP (4.4).
Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention for Autistics - Autistic children who received one-on-one tutoring for two years when they were young experienced a average gain of 21 IQ points in the Wisconsin Early Autism Project., with one toddler jumping up 45 IQ points. The tutoring program is the Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention (EIBI).
Multi-Lingual Gains: Neurologists today recognize that multiple language learning enhances memory, mental flexibility, problem solving, abstract thinking, and creative hypothesis formulation. Explanations of the benefits abound; I recommend listening to the video, “Bilingualism Will Supercharge Your Baby’s Brain.”
National Wealth - Developing nations have a far higher rate of mental retardation. A 2008 Rush University Medical College (Chicago) report observed that “Surveys in high-income countries show 3 to 5 per 1,000 with severe intellectual disability… Estimates from developing countries, however, have found prevalence rates from 5 to as much as 22 per 1,000.”
Acupuncture - Acupuncture has been used in China to increase the intelligence of infants with mental retardation. A four-week course offered in 2010 at the Affiliated Hospital of Gansu College reported significant gains. This mirrored the result of a 1994 study conducted by the Second People’s Hospital of Yangquan, in Shanxi, that claimed an IQ increase of 15 points in 41 cases out of 80 after six months of acupuncture, and other treatments.
Helping Lefthanders - Southpaw toddlers - 11% of the population - often need special help in letter formation.
Cognitive-Training Cartoons With Music - A 2011 study at York University, Canada, discovered that 90% of preschoolers improved their verbal IQ after four weeks of classroom instruction with “interactive music-based cognitive training cartoons.” MRI data confirmed that brain changes had occurred.
Cognitive-Damaging Cartoons - “SpongeBob SquarePants” is the mind-numbing villain in a study published by the University of VIrginia in the October 2011 issue of Pediatrics. The cartoon “may immediately impair young children’s executive function,” notes the authors, who saw 4-year-olds perform “significantly worse” on tests after watching the sponge’s frantic antics for nine minutes. Specific cartoons are especially debilitating.
Limit “Screen Time” - An article published in the journal Pediatrics by University of Washington researchers concluded, “early television exposure is associated with attentional problems . . . efforts to limit television viewing in early childhood may be warranted.” Excessive viewing over-stimulates young children’s still-developing neurological systems, resulting in hyperactivity and abbreviated attention spans. Why? Some researchers believe viewing wastefully releases high quantities of the neurotransmitter dopamine, a key regulator for focus. Advice: Young children should watch no more than one or two hours per day and don’t enroll children in preschools that place kids in front of a screen.
Music - Toronto scientists at York University found evidence that pre-schoolers can strikingly improve their verbal IQ after only 20 days of classroom instruction using interactive, music-based cognitive training cartoons. The study was posted in Psychological Science. (More info,and references on music’s benefits in an upcoming chapter)
Concentration Games - Recommended are checkers, tic-tac-toe, Candy Land, Chutes ‘N’ Ladders, age-appropriate puzzles, and concentration — the card game in which you flip over face-down cards and try to match pairs. The attention required for these activities builds brain regions. Other good games with brain-boosting potential are Scrabble and backgammon.
Gum-Chewing - If children demand a fun food, let them chew on sugarless gum. The chomping motion stimulates the brain stem, sending blood to the brain, increasing our attention level and ability to learn, reports Siegfried Lehrl, head of the Society of Brain Training and a scientist at the University of Erlangen (Germany). A 2002 study from the University of Northumbria (United Kingdom) found that gum-chewers had 35% improvement in word-recall ability to recall words. US military soldiers have received free gum since World War I, to boost concentration and relieve stress.
References are available in Hank’s book, Brighter Brains - 225 ways to elevate or injure IQ