The Science of Cognitive Performance – Cognitive performance might not be something you think about all that often, but it’s something that should become a bigger priority as you get older. For example, you might wish to improve your professional or academic cognitive abilities or keep your mind sharp as the brain ages. Either way, it’s a good idea to start thinking about cognitive performance and the factors that could impact it.
What is Cognitive Performance?
So, what exactly is cognitive performance by definition? Essentially, if you have high cognitive performance, you’re achieving optimal function of your cognitive abilities. You’re operating at peak performance, which is something most of us strive for!
If you’re eager to improve your cognitive skills, then you’re likely looking to improve things like your processing speed, decision-making, and your memory. All of these things should be kept in tip top shape, which means it’s good news there are so many ways to improve each of them.
Factors that Affect Cognitive Performance
Next, you may be wondering what factors could potentially impact your cognitive performance. That way, you can take control of these factors and remove any barriers in the way of optimal cognition. For example, do different people really have different things that affect how their brain functions? You bet they do!
Here are some of the factors that can influence cognitive performance.
1. Neglecting practice
Think of the brain as a muscle that needs to be flexed and exercised to function at its best—much like a bicep. So if you’re not exercising your brain, it’s not very likely it’s being used to its highest performance capability.
Instead of neglecting opportunities to challenge the brain, work on exercising it often and ensure it’s not deprived of practice. This will help ensure it doesn’t under perform in the different scenarios you face in your daily life.
2. Task difficulty
This one might come as a surprise, but even if you flex that brain muscle every so often, the tasks are not difficult enough to achieve maximum cognitive performance. This is because your brain relies on challenges in order to perform.
You might involve problem solving challenges as a part of your daily tasks to ensure your brain is being challenged efficiently. This will help with the longevity of your cognitive performance.
3. Cognitive load
Your cognitive load involves the number of tasks you can take on. If you need to divide your cognition between tasks then it’s likely to become more difficult for you to focus on the main task you have to deal with. That can mean you’ll be underproductive when it comes to that task and therefore under perform.
It’s always a good idea to dedicate your full attention to your main task and ensure you prioritize what you need to accomplish most.
4. The body
The mind and body are connected. In fact, metabolic factors in the body can influence the brain and how it functions. That means your heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver can each impact how the brain works.
If you’re struggling with something physically, it will likely affect things like your memory and processing speed. A virus in the body can rob the healthy function of the brain. Taking care of your body and mind is sure to benefit as well!
5. Thoughts and emotions
Your cognitive skills help you get through life and organize your day. It’s what determines how you’ll recall information or complete tasks like writing and communicating. But what you might not think about right away is how our thoughts and emotions can also influence those skills.
Thoughts and emotions affect our confidence in our ability to do things like remember information. In addition, they can bring on self-criticism and even undermine our ability to focus on important tasks.
The environment you function in daily can affect our cognitive skills and our ability to achieve goals. For example, if you’re distracted by a TV show while trying to get work done, you’re a lot less likely to get your work done efficiently.
That’s why putting yourself in an environment that sets you up to thrive is essential. For example, working in an organized space versus one full of clutter can significantly affect cognitive performance.
How to Improve Cognitive Function
Now that you know what can influence cognitive function, how exactly do you go about improving it? Here are some of our best tips!
Prioritize your physical health
As we mentioned, your body can influence how your brain functions. So get regular check ups, limit your use of substances like alcohol, and maintain a healthy and well-rounded diet. The better you take care of yourself physically, the better off you’ll be mentally.
Keep your mind active
Just like how you should keep your body active, you should also make an effort to keep your mind busy. Be sure to engage in meaningful activities that keep you stimulated and work to learn new skills. For example, you might read books, play challenging games, or take a class to learn something new.
Your social connections can help your brain to stay stimulated. Conversations with others and enjoying their company will help you feel engaged and can do wonders when it comes to boosting your mood.
Keep up with friends and try to see family when you can to keep your mind active.
While stress is normal, too much can influence the brain negatively. So work on managing your stress daily, whether relaxing in a bath or listening to music with the Xen by Neuvana headphones that stimulate your vagus nerve. The more you can keep your stress to a minimum the better your brain will perform.
We hope the above tips and information we’ve shared will prove helpful as you begin your journey in understanding cognitive performance and the many factors that can influence it. Use these tips to help you improve it and you’ll be that much closer to reaching optimal cognitive performance.