Everyone knows the expression, "a trivia question a day keeps the doctor away."
You don't know that one? Alright while the expression might be made up, its meaning is still true.
Regularly answering trivia questions provides your brain with some very positive benefits.
Your brain is a muscle.
Just as you exercise your body by lifting weights, you can exercise your brain by doing brain exercises. Trivia is one of the best mental exercises you can do.
The Importance of Trivia Questions for Your Brain
1. Trivia Enhances Memory
Memory is a crucial component of answering trivia questions. In fact, memorizing (often) useless information is basically what trivia is all about.
Thankfully, trivia is as good for memory as memory is good for trivia.
Why? One of the best ways to improve memory is through cognitive exercises. Trivia, as we'll see below, is one of the best cognitive exercises out there.
2. Trivia Improves Cognition
According to the Psychology section of About.com, cognition is, "the mental processes involved in gaining knowledge and comprehension."
If you want to learn something and retain that information, you need strong cognition. The better your cognition, the quicker you'll be able to learn new concepts and the better you'll be able to remember them.
So in short, for anyone who wants to learn and retain new information, cognition is really important.
There are a number of ways to build your cognition, most of which involve some sort of brain exercise. Trivia is one of the best exercises for your brain for a couple reasons.
1. It Stretches Your Brain
How often do you need to know that you’re 30 times more likely to be killed by lighting than you are a shark? What about the fact that worldwide, there are more than 3 chickens for every 1 person? Unless you’re trapped in shark infested waters or have an unnatural fear of chickens, you probably don’t have a burning need for those facts.
When you play trivia you’re asked to recall information that you don’t often use. The act of reaching for this information is a sort of mental stretching that is a great exercise for your brain.
2. It Is Mental Cross Training
Everyone has that one friend who does Crossfit. You know, the guy whose muscles have muscles?
Crossfit is a badass and intense version of cross training. In cross training, you exercise in multiple sports and/or styles. This diversity gives you more bang for your buck and helps to improve the overall benefit of the training.
Trivia is essentially cross training for our brains. When you answer trivia questions, you’re using your brain to answer questions on multiple topics, from language to sports or mathematics to history. In addition, our brains need not only to critically but creatively think to find answers.
Here's the bottom line:
The combination of the multiple topics and the different forms of thought work to significantly improve your cognition. This will in turn help you to learn and retain information more easily.
3. Trivia Helps Our Brains Perform Under Pressure
When you’re asked a trivia question, you don’t have a lot of time to think and come up with an answer.
Forcing your brain to work under the stress of a time constraint will help it perform when faced with other pressures.
The beauty of trivia is that each new round provides another chance for your brain the opportunity to perform under pressure.
If you play trivia semi regularly, not only will you brain get the exercise but you too will become more calm and confident thinking in stressful situations.
4. Trivia Reduces Stress
Many of us lead stressful lives.
We have high pressure jobs, people to take care of and bills to pay. This can often lead to a state of constant or frequent stress.
This stress wreaks havoc on our bodies and causes our brains, especially our memories, to function poorly.
The havoc is largely a result of the stress hormone our body produces known as cortisol. So why would our bodies even produce this hormone in the first place?
When you’re in a stressful or scary situation, such as when you hear gun shot, your body releases the hormones adrenaline and cortisol.
Both are designed to help us function in fight or flight situations. The adrenaline increases your heart rate and gives you more energy while the cortisol stops any functions that don’t help you perform in the stressful situation.
After the potential danger has passed our body's hormone levels of adrenaline and cortisol return to their normal levels.
The problem is that many of our lives are filled with constant stress. As a result, too much cortisol is produced and our bodies and memories suffer because of it.
The good news, trivia is a great way to reduce stress.
Playing trivia is a fun and relaxed way to learn new information. Also, when’s the last time you played trivia and didn’t laugh?
Trivia’s jovial and relaxed nature greatly help reduce your stress levels.
By playing trivia, not only will you learn a bunch of random stuff you'll probably never need, you'll get some serious mental benefits:
Enhanced memory, improved cognition, and brain performance under pressure aside, you'll considerably reduce your stress levels.
Oh and the best part?
Trivia is actually pretty damn fun. What other Tuesday night activity can give you all that?
So... next time you see the local having a bar trivia night, get your friends together and get in there!