Do You Ever Feel the Need for More Brain Power?
Do you sometimes feel like you could use just a bit more brain power to help you push through something that is mentally challenging?
Whether you’re trying to remember important information for a test you just got done studying for, or simply want to be able to focus better at work, strengthening your brain with prefrontal cortex exercises can help.
What is the Prefrontal Cortex?
First things first… What is the prefrontal cortex?
The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain responsible for many aspects of cognitive function, including memory, decision making, attention, planning, and the overall organization of thoughts.
A strong prefrontal cortex is associated with better cognitive abilities and improved mental focus.
Where is the Prefrontal Cortex Located?
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is part of the frontal lobe located at the front of the brain, just behind the forehead.
It is often referred to as the “executive” area of the brain, because it is responsible for executive function skills like planning, organization, and even paying attention (short term memory).
According to the Weill Institute for Neurosciences:
“The term ‟executive functions” refers to the higher-level cognitive skills you use to control and coordinate your other cognitive abilities and behaviors.”
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into the 19 brain boosting exercises that can use right away to help you improve your prefrontal cortex function.
You’ll be that much closer to obtaining that extra cognitive edge you’ve been looking for.
So, let’s dive in!
1. Practice Meditation or Mindfulness
This one is definitely at the top of the list for a reason.
Meditation has been shown to be an incredibly effective strengthening exercise for prefrontal cortex function.
Just a few minutes of mindfulness meditation each day for healthy adults can help you see improvements in things like working memory, focus, and task switching abilities.
If you’re new to meditation, there are plenty of great resources out there to help you get started.
Once you get the hang of it, it can be done anywhere, anytime – even in short breaks throughout your day giving you more mental focus.
2. Get Enough Sleep
You might be surprised to see this one on the list, but it’s true – getting enough sleep is crucial for prefrontal cortex optimization.
When you’re sleep deprived, your prefrontal cortex doesn’t work as well, and you’ll find it more difficult to focus, remember things, and make decisions.
Aim for around seven to eight hours of sleep each night, and you’ll give your prefrontal cortex a chance to rest and recharge.
3. Do Some Physical Exercise
Physical exercise is great for the brain in general, but aerobic exercise has been shown to be especially beneficial for prefrontal cortex function.
Just a few minutes of moderate to vigorous aerobic activity can help improve things like working memory and task flexibility.
So if you’re looking to give your prefrontal cortex a workout, hit the treadmill or go for a jog around the block.
You’ll not only feel better afterwards, but your prefrontal cortex will thank you too.
You’ll want to focus on an incremental exercise plan where you start out slow, but gradually ramp up your worouts over time.
Eventually you’ll want to consider partaking in some high intensity exercises like HIIT or (high intensity interval training), but that is a bit more advanced, and it’s better to not rush anyways!
Note: Anaerobic exercise is also beneficial for brain health, so don’t forget about strength training and other forms of exercise as well.
4. Get Social
It might not seem like it, but socializing is actually good for the prefrontal cortex.
Behavioral sciences studies have shown that interacting with others and receiving physical contact can help improve things like self-control and decision making.
In fact, lack of social interaction can actually be detrimental to your health, both mental and physical!
So if you’re looking to give your prefrontal cortex a boost, make sure to schedule some sort of physical activity time with friends or family.
By being able to receive physical contact from people you care about in your everyday life through social interaction, your cognitive functions improve a lot more than you’d think!
You’ll not only have fun, but you’ll be training your brain at the same time.
5. Eating a Healthy Diet is a Prefrontal Cortex Exercise Too!
Just like the rest of your body, your prefrontal cortex needs the right nutrients to function properly.
Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables, omega-3 fatty acids, and whole grains can help improve prefrontal cortex function.
So if you’re looking to give your prefrontal cortex a boost, make sure to eat plenty of healthy foods.
Your brain will thank you for it.
6. Manage Stress
Too much stress can actually have a negative impact on the functioning of your prefrontal cortex.
Having a lot of “What if’s” or fear based thoughts can negatively impact your cognitive functions.
That’s why it’s important to find ways to manage acute bouts of stress in your life.
Things like yoga, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce stress levels and improve prefrontal cortex function and bring a peaceful end to each day.
If you’re feeling stressed out, take a few minutes to do some deep breathing or other calming activities to slow down your brain activity.
This also includes inhibitory control, where you purposely ignore or control your regular or habitual responses to a specific distratcion or stimuli. (Such as stopping yourself from making an impulsive decision or blurting out something off the cuff).
People who suffer from ADHD or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder tend to have issues with inhibitory control (or poor inhibition).
If you’re having trouble managing stress on your own, there are some herbal supplements you can take to help you relieve stress like Onnit New Mood.
You can read my full review / breakdown of this stress relieving drink powder here.
7. Learn Something New
Studies have shown that learning something new can actually help improve prefrontal cortex capabilities.
So if you’re looking for a way to give your prefrontal cortex a workout, why not learn a new side hustle or take up a new hobby like breakdancing, martial arts, or even yo-yo tricks or juggling?
Things like a learning a new language or instrument can help improve prefrontal cortex function, improving your memory capacity in a positive way.
Not only will you be giving your prefrontal cortex a workout, but you’ll also have fun in the process.
Any of these things have the potential to significantly strengthen executive function of the brain.
The more you practice new things, the better you can strengthen your brain’s executive functions, even if you’re already well past your younger years in adulthood!
8. Brain Games
Challenging your brain with new activities can actually help improve prefrontal cortex function.
So if you’re looking to give your brain a workout, why not try some challenging brain games to challenge your mind?
There are plenty of great brain games out there that can help you improve prefrontal cortex function.
Things like Sudoku, Solitaire, and other logic puzzles can help improve your working memory and problem solving skills.
Not all brain games need to be super challenging however.
You can also try some less challenging games like making up silly sentences with a book of ad libs!
It’s not as hard as some of the others, but coming up with goofy words to fill in the blank does exercise your brain, and brings a lot of laughs in the process!
Plus, they are definitey one of the cheaper options!
So if you’re looking for a fun way to give your prefrontal cortex a workout, break out your favorite brain game and get to work.
9. Try Some Online Arithmetic Challenges or Math Quizzes
This prefrontal cortex exercise is designed to help improve your mathematical skills.
By solving complex math problems, you can give your prefrontal cortex a workout and improve your mathematical abilities.
There are plenty of great online resources that offer arithmetic challenges or math quizzes.
So if you’re looking for a challenging way to give your prefrontal cortex a workout and significantly strengthen executive function, try some online math quizzes or arithmetic challenges.
You may not realize it, but your prefrontal cortex is responsible for a lot of important brain functions.
From memory and focus to decision making and self-control, the prefrontal cortex plays a vital role in our daily lives, and believe it or not, practicing math equations can give you a slight edge,
Fortunately, if artithmatic isn’t your cup of tea, there are still plenty of things you can do to give your prefrontal cortex a workout and improve its overall executive function.
10. Jigsaw Puzzles are Amazing for Exercising the Prefrontal Cortex
This prefrontal cortex exercise is designed to help improve your problem solving skills.
By completing jigsaw puzzles, you can give your prefrontal cortex a workout and improve your ability to solve complex problems.
Plus, it involves a bit of hand eye coordination which also positively affects the human brain in healthy adults.
There are plenty of great jigsaw puzzles out there that can help you improve prefrontal cortex function.
So if you’re looking for a fun way to give your prefrontal cortex a workout, break out your favorite jigsaw puzzle and get to work.
Not only is it really cool, it’s a great brain exercise in itself!
How cool is that?
11. Use a Brain Sensing EEG Device Like The Muse 2 Headband
Muse 2 is a multi-sensor meditation device (or EEG Device) backed by science.
This device fits comfortably over your forehead, and provides real-time feedback on your brain activity to help improve focus during the day, and decrease stress response by helping you stay calm and relaxed through the night.
This device can improve prefrontal cortex function, as it helps you get more control of your brain activity and helps to create positive emotions and better self control.
You can read my full Muse 2 Headband Review Here to learn more.
12. Try the “N-Back” Prefrontal Cortex Exercises
The N-Back task is a classic prefrontal cortex exercise that has been used in research for many years.
In this task, you need to look at a series of letters and say whether each letter is the same as the one that appeared two letters ago.
For example, if the sequence of letters is “A-C-D-B,” you would say “yes” for the first letter (A), “no” for the second letter (C), “no” for the third letter (D), and “yes” for the fourth letter (B).
This prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it requires you to hold information in your working memory and compare it to new information.
13. Try the “Dual N-Back” Exercise to Improve Prefrontal Cortex Function
The dual n-back is a working memory task that is often used to measure prefrontal cortex function.
The task requires you to remember a sequence of auditory and visual stimuli, and then identify when the current stimulus match the one presented two steps back in the sequence.
This prefrontal cortex exercise is designed to help improve your working
14. Try the “Complex Span” Prefrontal Cortex Exercise
It involves two tasks: a memory task and a distractor task.
For the memory task, you’ll need to remember a list of words. The catch is that you can only look at the list for three seconds before it’s taken away. Then, you have to recite the words from memory.
For the distractor task, you have to do a simple math problem for each word on the list (e.g., if the word is “cat,” you would need to say what three plus four is).
This prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it requires you to hold information in your working memory while also doing a secondary task.
15. Try the “Attention Switching” Prefrontal Cortex Exercise
As far as prefrontal cortex exercises and cognitive training programs are concerned, this one from researcher Arthur Kramer and his colleagues called “attention switching” is quite helpful for improving your brain power.
For this exercise, you need to be able to switch your attention between two tasks very quickly.
You’ll start by looking at a computer screen with a dot in the center.
Every few seconds, the dot will change color (e.g., from red to green).
Your task is to press a button whenever the dot changes color.
Every so often, a letter will appear on the screen instead of the dot.
When this happens, you need to say aloud whether the letter is a vowel or a consonant.
This prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it requires you to quickly switch your attention between the two tasks.
16. Use a Simple Memory Game
One way to improve prefrontal cortex function is to use a memory game.
Memory games are designed to help improve your working memory, and they can be a lot of fun too.
There are many different types of memory games available, but one of my favorites is the “What’s Missing?” game.
In this game, you need to remember a list of items (e.g., a list of words or a sequence of numbers) and then recall the missing item from the list.
There are also popular board / card games like “Go Fish” and “Guess Who” that are also memory games.
This type of prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it requires you to hold information in your working memory and then manipulate it to find the missing piece.
17. Use a Brain Training Program Like Lumosity
There are many different brain training programs available that claim to improve prefrontal cortex function.
I have personally used the Lumosity program, and I found it to be helpful.
I would recommend giving it a try if you are looking for a prefrontal cortex exercise that is both fun and effective.
Not only is it a great brain booster for mentally fit adults, it’s also a great program for anyone who has dealt with any form of cognitive impairment at one point or another (such as having trouble concentrating or remembering things).
18. Do a Crossword Puzzle
Crossword puzzles aren’t just for grandmas and grandpas to fill out on their rocking chairs on a Sunday afternoon.
Nope, they’re actually one of the best prefrontal cortex exercises to help increase activity in the brain.
They require you to think about words in new ways and to remember a lot of information.
I like to do crossword puzzles when I need a break from work or when I want to give my brain a workout.
If you haven’t tried them before, I recommend giving it a go.
This prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it requires you to hold information in your working memory and to use executive function skills such as planning and problem-solving.
19. Take a Break from Technology & Give Your Prefrontal Cortex a Rest!
Although prefrontal cortex exercises are beneficial, it is important to take a break from technology occasionally.
Believe it or not, too much screen time can lead to information overload and can be detrimental to your cognitive abilities.
Taking a break from brain exercises is actually a brain exercise in itself!
I like to take a break from technology by disconnecting from the internet and spending time in nature.
You can spend some of this time performing some gratitude activities like sending some thank you cards, or even just writing down a list of everything you’re thankful for.
Activities like do require focus to some extent, but in a less stressful way.
Taking breaks from technology like this will help you to clear your mind and find ways to relax.
If you can, I recommend taking a break from technology at least once a week.
This prefrontal cortex exercise is effective because it allows you to focus on the present moment and to clear your mind of distractions.
About David Gracey
Founder of SuperMindHacker.com
In other words, I am completely obsessed with anything and everything related to cognitive brain enhancement!
Whether it's nootropics supplements, challenging brain puzzles, or even meditation techniques, chances are, I've tried it! This website is my outlet to give back and share what I've learned in the past 15+ years in this field of study.
You Can Read my Other Posts Here: David Gracey's Articles