Who would have thought that the “gift of the gab” could make you smarter? The University of Michigan did a study and that is exactly what they found! According to their research, talking to a friend for only ten minutes can give your brain a quick boost and make it easier for you to problem solve!
Psychologist at the U of M Institute for Social Research and the lead author of the study, Oscar Ybarra, states, "In our study, socializing was just as effective as more traditional kinds of mental exercise in boosting memory and intellectual performance”.
The study included over 3,600 people between the ages of 24 and 96. The level of each participant’s social interactions was measured by tracking how many times each week they spoke to friends, neighbours and relatives by phone and how often they got together. The researchers found that in every age group “the higher the level of participants' social interaction, the better their cognitive functioning”.
The researchers also found that being isolated from others and spending a great deal of time alone may actually have a negative effect on intellectual abilities and on one’s emotional well-being. This is definitely food for thought in this day and age of video games and computers, which are mostly used in isolation. We adults and our children spend a lot of time sitting alone in front of a computer. It’s important to remember to get out once in a while and spend time with family and friends. Perhaps it is even more important that we thought.
A second part of the study measured the performance of 76 undergraduates between the ages of 18 and 21 years of age, on cognitive tasks after ten-minute conversations with each other. The study found that friendly conversation boosted memory, self-awareness and problem-solving skills! Interestingly, the study also found that students who conversed in a competitive tone did not receive this boost and did not benefit cognitively. Dr. Ybarra said, “To our knowledge, this experiment represents the only causal evidence showing that social interaction directly affects memory and mental performance in a positive way” and that “visiting with a friend or neighbour may be just as helpful in staying sharp as doing a daily crossword puzzle”.
We have always known that social interaction and having good friends and close family members contributes to physical well-being. Because of this study, it appears that it is also beneficial to mental well-being.
So, spend time speaking with a friend or loved one, even for as little as ten minute, and you could become s m a r t e r because of it!