Saturday, March 6, 2010

Remember this!

I'm sure I don't have to convince anyone that memory and intelligence are life enhancing. It's obvious that the better your working memory and the greater your intelligence, the more you'll get out of life. By becoming smarter, you'll solve problems better, increase your chance of success and ultimately remember more of the wonderful experiences you have in life. Yes memory and intelligence are definitely life enhancing, and it's easy to see why.


Improving memory and intelligence

So I figure that if I could show you a scientifically proven method that is fun and freely available online to help increase both working memory and intelligence, you'd be interested? If so, read on...

Software that makes you smarter

Back in 2008, a group of Brain Researchers headed by Dr Susanne Jaeggi from the University of Michigan, found that both working memory and fluid intelligence - a measure of how people adapt to new situations and solve problems they've never seen before - could be markedly improved through regular training in a task called 'the Dual N-Back memory task'.

The Dual N-Back memory task involves two independent sequences that are presented simultaneously, typically using different sensory modalities, such as one auditory and one visual. Blocks are flashed on a grid, and letters are read out in sequence and you have to remember and indicate when a block location or letter is repeated. The N in 'N-Back' describes how many letters back in the sequence you need to remember. For 2-Back you need to remember two items back in the sequence. The higher the N-number the more challenging the game level.


Research results

The results from the various studies of the Dual N-Back task show a linear correlation between gain in measured fluid intelligence and the time spent practicing the task. In other words, the more you practice, the more your memory and intelligence will improve. The results suggest that approximately 20 - 25 minutes a day can lead to over 40% gain in measured fluid intelligence scores after only 19 days of daily practice. That's a huge intelligence and memory improvement in a short time.

Training intensively beyond the suggested daily 20 - 25 minutes is not recommended as the brain needs time to learn, adapt and reconfigure itself. It's also suggested that a training schedule of 4 - 5 days a week is optimal.

The idea is to keep pushing your limits by practicing the Dual N-Back task at the limit of your current ability. This is what increases fluid intelligence. The higher the N number, the more difficult and challenging the task.


Additional research

More recently, in an article published in 2009 in the prestigious journal Science, it was reported that 14 hours of training over a 5 week period led to measurable density changes for cortical dopamine neuroreceptors in the brain. So brain training really does modify the brain and increase your capacity for thinking and memory. The brain is like a muscle, if you want to strengthen it, you have to exercise it. And the more specifically you exercise it, the better it gets.

Enhancing your life

It's obvious, if you want to live an enhanced life, if you want to get and create more out of life, you need to take action and use every tool at your disposal to increase your skills and capacity for living. Brain training software, freely available online, will help increase your fluid intelligence and working memory. I really do think that is life enhancing!

Free brain training tools

Here's a free online version of the N-back game:




And here's a free downloadable software game and tutorial:



To read more: http://www.wired.com/science/discoveries/news/2008/04/smart_software

best wishes,
Grant



Some worthwhile books on brain training:

Brain Training: Boost memory, maximize mental agility, & awaken your inner genius by Tony Buzan

For people of all ages who want to improve their memory, hone learning skills, and boost mental performance in their daily lives, Brain Training is a vibrant collection of visual puzzles and tips to help exercise the brain and keep the cognitive faculties razor-sharp. Covering the key areas of brain function, including memory, perception, problem-solving, verbal reasoning, and the body (such as diet, exercise, and meditation), Brain Training is a dynamic resource that will boost everyone's brain power.



The Brain Training Revolution: A Proven Workout for Healthy Brain Aging

Repair, Retrain, and Maintain Your Brain - The Brain Training Revolution offers readers a unique three-part prescription for brain and memory health based on the latest scientific research. By focusing on certain aspects of nutrition, physical fitness, and mental exercise, The Brain Training Revolution outlines a plan to maintain brain health.

4 comments:

  1. Dear Life Enhancement Guru -- I took your training suggestion and now my short term memory is shot, and also my short term memory is shot. (Snicker) Okay, by "fluid intelligence" do you mean transferrable to other applications? If so, how was that measured? I mean, if the test was seeing how much you could improve by doing the same test and using that growth as the measure, maybe it's too specific an adaptation to have implications for actual intelligence gains in other areas of function. He said. And I'm worried that if my intelligence is fluid, something might drink it. :-)

    -- Sully

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  2. Hey Sully, fluid intelligence is defined as "a complex human ability that allows us to adapt our thinking to a new cognitive problem or situation". So yes, definitely transferable to other applications, and especially to those involving drinking (or not) :D

    And yes, the study controlled for retest effects, and the 40% increase in measured fluid intelligence was on top of the performance increase gained by a control group due to doing the same intelligence test.

    So good questions, and I think, good and robust results from the study. For me though, its more about the definite improvement in working or short term memory from doing memory training. As I get older, I realise the importance of keeping my memory sharp. And the fact that research shows that memory is like other parts of the body, you can get significant improvement through exercise and training, is a very useful piece of scientifically supported and life enhancing knowledge.

    So I thought it worthwhile to share :D

    smiles, Grant

    ReplyDelete
  3. Doing really well with the positivity for the world

    Great work.

    ReplyDelete
  4. What do I think is life enhancing?

    Reading your blog!

    ReplyDelete

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