Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Cereal and Coffee: Be Happy and Learn

Last night I saw an interesting movie, "Limitless." Not great, but interesting. It was about a guy who used a pill that could unlock the brain. As they quoted in the movie, we only use about 10% of the brain's power, so they fictionalized what would happen if we could find a pill to unlock the whole brain. The concept was fascinating, even though the movie was just okay.

So this morning I was researching the optimal functioning of the brain (yep, I'm weird) and I discovered once again that my parents were right, breakfast is good for you. Specifically what I found is that two very simple items can enhance your mood and brain functioning significantly first thing in the morning. Maybe it's not the magic pill, but hey, any brain enhancement I can get is good.

Breakfast cereal (Honey Nut Cheerios is my favorite) puts you in a more positive mood and it enhances spacial capabilities. Many people I speak with yearn to be more positive, especially in the morning. Think about it. It's not a pill and it's good for  you. I'd love to have cereal in the car while driving in rush hour. I would jump out of the car and give it to the other drivers. These other drivers need to be happier and have better spacial capabilities; they drive too aggressively and too close to me.

Ah and my favorite morning beverage, coffee, along with waking me up I've now found that it enhances learning. Yep. The experiment that Adams and Smith did in 1999 showed that individuals who had coffee learned significantly faster than those who did not. So coffee gets my brain going early so that I can be open to new ideas and new concepts. Very cool.

Though it's not the magic pill fantisized in "Limitless," cereal and coffee provide enough stimulation for the brain to kick into gear. For most of us, that's what we need. If we long to think more clearly and be in a better mood, it's simple. Get out the bowl and the cup.

As for me, I'm having another cup of coffee. And honestly, I'd still like a pill that would unlock more of my brain's potential. Who know, maybe I'd get up to the 10%.

Smith, A.P. & Clark. R, (1999) Breakfast cereal and caffeinated coffee: effects on working memory, attention, mood and cardiovascular function. Physiology & Behavior.

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