5 Things You Didn't Know Could Make You Smarter

#2. Cigarettes


Apparently some "scientists" have decided that smoking doesn't have lots of benefits, at least if you're one of those folks opposed to cancer and offending people. But it seems that, in the process of destroying everything else, nicotine has some beneficial effect on the brain.

"Don't you be getting intelligent in this house, young lady!"

Researchers at the University of Amsterdam have actually discovered that the nicotine found in cigarettes enhances both learning and memory. Since learning and memory are key areas of loss in Alzheimer's patients, researchers tested nicotine patches on elderly people with Alzheimer's, and found that after regular doses, they were two times faster and significantly more consistent at answering memory-based questions than the control group.

The researchers found that the nicotine was able to do this by improving communication among the learning centers in the brain. But, chances are that, if you still remember the beginning of this sentence, you probably don't have Alzheimer's. So this doesn't apply to regular people, right?

Oh, wait, you forgot about stupid, stupid children!

Well, good news! Researchers pumped nicotine into adolescent mice, then tested them on spatial learning and memory later in their adult life and found that those who had received small, steady levels of nicotine learned faster and performed significantly better -- months later. Not only that, but they discovered that mice are adorable with a hacking cough.

"Hey, I think instead of finishing this, I'm just gonna grab a smoke and maybe take a short nap."

All of this is starting to make sense. Think about the smartest people you know: Weren't they always smoking, while dancing, while wearing a scowl on their face? While using electrodes and a car battery to shock the shit out of their heads? Oh, we guess we haven't gotten to that one yet ...

#1. Electricity to the Skull


If you're trying to actually improve your brain performance, then "Electrocute it!" probably only seems like a viable option if you're assuming your brain works just like the robots in Short Circuit. Nevertheless, Australian researchers have created what they're calling "transcranial direct current stimulation" (or you can go with the catchier shorthand, "thinking cap"), which delivers electric currents into the brains of brave and possibly crazy test subjects in order to test whether they can supercharge their minds.

First, you have to remove your brain ...

The researchers found that after admitting these weak electrical signals, participants were far more likely to solve complex riddles than the average person. If electricity was applied to the left brain in order to suppress its "linear" style of thinking, and a different kind of current sent to the right brain in order to increase cognitive flexibility, it caused the participants to solve these riddles at three times the rate of unstimulated participants.

"The dead body was a goldfish! How remedial."

If you're like most people, however, you probably don't want to walk around with sponges, metal caps and electrical currents running into your brain 24/7. The good news is, you wouldn't have to -- amazingly, after unhooking the caps, the participants retained their complex riddle-solving abilities for six months.

Of course, these won't be available in homes anytime soon, since it seems like the potential for accidentally fried brains is pretty high. Honestly now, how many of you didn't just say to yourself, "If a little electrical current helps me think better, then I bet a lot would give me telepathy!" Yes, here's to a future where many a roommate comes home to a tragic scene involving electrical outlets and the smell of charred hair.

Or even worse, a really hyper roommate, demanding, "Quick, ask me about some math!"

For other ways you can be more awesome, check out 5 Ways To Hack Your Brain Into Awesomeness and 5 Ways to Trick Your Body Into Being More Awesome.

If you're pressed for time and just looking for a quick fix, then check out 3 Racist Incidents That Weren't Actually Racist.

And stop by LinkSTORM to learn how radiation + human body = superpowers. (Cracked.com is not responsible for horrifyingly painful deaths.)

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