Other exercises for mind as effective as N-back

1066 views
Skip to first unread message

David Jiménez

unread,
Mar 16, 2009, 3:10:48 PM3/16/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
I am very surprised with the effectiveness of N-back exercise for my mind, I feel I've improved my short-term memory, but I can't avoid wondering if, apart from N-back, there are other mind-stimulating exercises as good as N-back in order to improve intelligence and memory.

Also to feed my curiosity, what part of the brain does N-back exercises?

Greetings

--
David Jiménez
Blog: http://davigettux.blogspot.com

MR

unread,
Mar 16, 2009, 4:09:03 PM3/16/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
Read the McNab paper (first on the list) at http://www.klingberglab.se/pub.html

M

David Jiménez

unread,
Mar 16, 2009, 6:26:50 PM3/16/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
Interesting article, of course.

Apart from n-back, you recommend another brain training exercise?

Thanks

kahreez...@hotmail.com

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 3:53:10 AM3/17/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
Teaching yourself some math isn't probably what you are looking for,
but man... when I get stuck on a word problem it makes me think. Not
to mention, it's amazing how "easy" you think the questions are, and
after you've gone to check your answers there are bunch of little bits
and pieces of "stupid" mistakes. These stupid mistakes seem like
"memory leaks"... is what I like to call them.

Iron

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 10:55:38 AM3/17/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
I don't think that there is anything that has been as effective as
dual n-back. I've been wondering about this for a while as well.

What I can come up with is meditation, image streaming, chess, and
learning an instrument.

I think meditation and image streaming seem the most promising. Chess
and learning an instrument have been shown to be effective in
children, but I have no idea whether or not adults would experience
any benefit from them.

Curtis Warren

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 11:41:09 AM3/17/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
There's also tetris.

Ashirgo

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 12:40:27 PM3/17/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
I would also list reading aloud (it helps to an extent) and physical
exercises (essential!).

You may also try to learn some foreign languages.

And as to the chess... It is an excellent training, but try to play
the blindfold version (or such in which there is no visual distinction
between figures save their colour, that is, brown&white).

David Jiménez

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 2:14:05 PM3/17/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
When you say "meditation", you mean achieving Alpha state?

Dennis Peterson

unread,
Mar 17, 2009, 3:55:25 PM3/17/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
For alpha, the exercises from openfocus.com are very effective.

LSaul

unread,
Mar 18, 2009, 10:44:50 PM3/18/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
I think the most important element of intelligence is attention; and
the ability to focus it for extended periods of time. There are great
exercises (besides DNB) you can do to increase your awareness, yet
maintain focused attention. Here is an incredible blog post that
defines how to go about getting into an "Alpha" state. It's simple and
those of you who have tried various methods of meditation may be
familiar with something similar.

However, this is one of the most descriptive and straight-forward
articles which I've been able to find on the topic. I hope you all can
benefit and enjoy this :)

Try it here:
http://blog.coach-companion.com/creativity/


On Mar 17, 3:55 pm, Dennis Peterson <dennisbpeter...@gmail.com> wrote:
> For alpha, the exercises from openfocus.com are very effective.
>
> On Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 2:14 PM, David Jiménez <davige...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > When you say "meditation", you mean achieving Alpha state?
>
Message has been deleted

Vlado

unread,
Mar 19, 2009, 8:38:26 AM3/19/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
hello blank, we learned about mental rotation in school, for example
that it works similar as physical rotation of objects (bigger angel
means bigger delay of recognition etc.). But this is an interesting
study, and definitely very nice implementation of it.

Regarding topic, I use different brain training software occasionaly
(I can recommend brain trainer 2, brain train, brain challenge), but
for me dual-n-back is by far the most effective tool.

On 19. Mar., 07:49 h., blank <peisistrat...@gmail.com> wrote:
> "Psychon Bull Rev. 2008 Aug;15(4):763-71.Links
> Training generalized spatial skills.
> Wright R, Thompson WL, Ganis G, Newcombe NS, Kosslyn SM.
>
> ...The present study investigated whether intensive long-term practice
> leads to change that transcends stimulus and task parameters. Thirty-
> one participants (14 male, 17 female) were tested on three cognitive
> tasks: a computerized version of the Shepard-Metzler (1971) mental
> rotation task (MRT), a mental paper-folding task (MPFT), and a verbal
> analogies task (VAT). Each individual then participated in daily
> practice sessions with the MRT or the MPFT over 21 days. Postpractice
> comparisons revealed transfer of practice gains to novel stimuli for
> the practiced task, as well as transfer to the other, nonpracticed
> spatial task. Thus, practice effects were process based, not instance
> based. Improvement in the nonpracticed spatial task was greater than
> that in the VAT; thus, improvement was not merely due to greater ease
> with computerized testing."
>
> A decent 3D rotation task is found here:http://psych.hanover.edu/JavaTest/CLE/Cognition/Cognition/mentalrotat...

Paul

unread,
Mar 21, 2009, 11:22:35 PM3/21/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On the subject of other brain exercises, I found an interesting puzzle
game the other day. It's called "Einstein Puzzle" from
http://games.flowix.com/ . My best time so far is 10 minutes. It
probably doesn't have the same type of benefits as the n-back task,
but it's a good test of logic and working memory.

kishjeff

unread,
Mar 22, 2009, 9:45:17 PM3/22/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
As far as what to do, this n-back seems very good 'so far'.
I believe, via the research I've done (and listening to the brain
science podcast) that the following will definitely help:

Listen to music occasionally to light up your brain
exercise 30 minutes 5x a week with 3 - 4 periods in the 30 minutes of
getting out of breath/anaerobic
10 to 30 minutes of meditation
eat properly (include blueberries and walnuts if you are not alergic)
drink some stimulant drink with caffeine
get at LEAST 7 hrs of good sleep a night
Play video games once in a while
Use n-back regulary.. I'm currently trying about 30 minutes a day

I'd like to add attitude.. you remember what you care/give a heck
about.

Please note that this means you'll be spending about 1+ hrs a day not
really interfacing
with the rest of the universe every day.. this might be tough if you
have a family.

Also you might want to add spending time with people that care about
you, and finally
reaching out somehow to help the world/community/neighborhood at
large.

oh... to stay on track.. I was doing this for a while, but the
advertisments got really annoying.
http://www.onlinegamingzone.com/memory4.html

I have a feeling it has similar but not quite as good benefits as
nback.
Does anyone know of a non ad version that isn't costly? I could right
one myself, but
I"m so busy trying to make myself less errr challenged, that I don't
have time to !!!!!!
Jeff

On Mar 21, 11:22 pm, Paul <plh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On the subject of other brain exercises, I found an interesting puzzle
> game the other day. It's called "Einstein Puzzle" fromhttp://games.flowix.com/. My best time so far is 10 minutes. It

kishjeff

unread,
Mar 22, 2009, 9:48:55 PM3/22/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence

OH.. I almost forgot the donationcoder website had a contest and one
of the entries was called tpcube.
It is a very difficult test of visualization. Unfortunately it isn't
complete in that it does not have all the dlls
with it that it needs, but I have collected them if anyone is
interested.

Jeff

On Mar 21, 11:22 pm, Paul <plh...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On the subject of other brain exercises, I found an interesting puzzle
> game the other day. It's called "Einstein Puzzle" fromhttp://games.flowix.com/. My best time so far is 10 minutes. It

kishjeff

unread,
Mar 22, 2009, 9:51:15 PM3/22/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
thanks for the link. most meditation things I find on the web require
money and possibly travel to get
trained by experts.
Jeff
> > > Blog:http://davigettux.blogspot.com- Hide quoted text -
>
> - Show quoted text -

LSaul

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 5:52:46 AM3/23/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
I'm just glad that someone else is going to try it. So far, it has
worked well to help me stay focused and relaxed when I make the time
to do it in the morning. It lasts for a little while; and the more I
try the exercise, the better I get at the last two visualization
parts.

If anyone else tries the meditation I wouldn't mind hearing what your
experience was like. If you care to know about my experience let me
know, maybe we can start another post. Best of luck with it.
> > > > Blog:http://davigettux.blogspot.com-Hide quoted text -

Gaël DEEST

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 6:44:35 AM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
> exercise 30 minutes 5x a week with 3 - 4 periods in the 30 minutes of
> getting out of breath/anaerobic

Why getting out of breath ? I read everywhere that *aerobic* exercise
was the key.

> drink some stimulant drink with caffeine

I fear this isn't true:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WBK-4NBRXVM-1&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_acct=C000050221&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=6989d63187f6d0194b4849b2a406ffc5

Pregnant women should avoid caffeine too:

http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2065494

I'd love to believe caffeine is good for my brain, but it doesn't seem
to be true.

I agree with everything else.

karnautrahl

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 8:41:46 AM3/23/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
Can anyone get access to the full article? Also having just looked
elsewhere, its not totally conclusive.

Also, personally I've been using a coffee machine for the past 6
months ever since I found it quickly eased gallstone colic (I never
took black coffee till then). In that 6 months I hit the brain
training software and from there have ended up with a habit of
studying 2-4 hrs most days. Contrary to the statement about long term
memory formation, I'm finding that I remember quite a lot of stuff
about neuroanatomy/neuroscience and other items of chemistry etc that
I've been studying.

Hence why I'm interested to see more information-is it a tiny effect
of a few percent which would be unnoticeable in a real world class of
students or is it a huge effect that might mean study time would have
to double to memorise the same information? :P

That's the level of conclusions I'm interested in.

On Mar 23, 10:44 am, Gaël DEEST <gael.de...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > exercise 30 minutes 5x a week with 3 - 4 periods in the 30 minutes of
> > getting out of breath/anaerobic
>
> Why getting out of breath ? I read everywhere that *aerobic* exercise
> was the key.
>
> > drink some stimulant drink with caffeine
>
> I fear this isn't true:
>
> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WBK-4NBRXV...

Gaël DEEST

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 9:41:16 AM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
> Hence why I'm interested to see more information-is it a tiny effect
> of a few percent which would be unnoticeable in a real world class of
> students or is it a huge effect that might mean study time would have
> to double to memorise the same information? :P
>
> That's the level of conclusions I'm interested in.

That's what I'm wondering too. Also, according to some authors,
caffeine can have protective effects against Alzeihmer or Parkinson
diseases.

It's interesting to note that the caffeine concentration used in this
study isn't as "low" as they claim it to be. 0.3 g/L means roughly 1.5
gram in total for a human, while your average brewed coffee cup
contains around 150 mg. Even if drinking 4 or 5 cups a day, you have
to consider that caffeine's half-life is 4 to 6 hours which means it
is nearly impossible to reach that blood concentration. It would be
interesting to know if any effect were noticeable below that
concentration, or if they didn't make the experiment.

kishjeff

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 10:25:28 AM3/23/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
This is what is soooo good about news groups and discussions!
Not only do you have the potential to drag in evidence from multiple
places,
but more than one pair of eyes sometimes increases the accuracy of
the
information. Thanks for your thoughts!

On Mar 23, 6:44 am, Gaël DEEST <gael.de...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > exercise 30 minutes 5x a week with 3 - 4 periods in the 30 minutes of
> > getting out of breath/anaerobic
>
> Why getting out of breath ? I read everywhere that *aerobic* exercise
> was the key.

I read this in a couple of books. The one I thought most highly of,
John Ratey's 'SPARK' -
the new science of exercise and the brain, talks about increased
neurogenisis and HGF
in relationship to this 'pushing' yourself. I basically treat this as
not a cure-all, but a 'get the
most out of what you can' tactic/approach,i.e. some intelligence comes
from environment,
food, exercise, genes, stimuli, biochemical makeup (I know there is
overlap here), so get
what you can out of each "quadrant" - this would explain why exercise
will make you better,
but not a genius of other factors aren't present in a positive way.


>
> > drink some stimulant drink with caffeine
>
> I fear this isn't true:
>
> http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6WBK-4NBRXV...
>
> Pregnant women should avoid caffeine too:
>
> http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=2065494
>
> I'd love to believe caffeine is good for my brain, but it doesn't seem
> to be true.
I got my information from multiple sources including:

http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=six-ways-to-boost-brainpower
admittedly this is a more general public than a science publishing
magazine, but I
believe the reports are generally based on 'real' scientific reports.

I'm also 'hoping' it is true as I drink 2 - 4 cups a day, but try to
cut back occasionally.

>
> I agree with everything else.
I totally forgot (or others mentioned it) that learning a second
language
is quite beneficial. If you join a languge club and interact with
people,
you kill several birds with one stone... social interaction, stimuli,
second language...

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 10:38:48 AM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com

I have put the PDF up for the Group.

"In this study, we chose a low dose of caffeine (0.3 g/L) for two main
reasons: First, it leads to a plasma level of caffeine representative
of regular daily human consumption; and second, in a model of neonatal
ischemia, this low dose of 0.3 g/L was more protective than a higher
dose, 0.8 g/L [10]. However, it would be of interest to extend the
present study to other doses of caffeine."

If you look at page 2 (page 3 is just the changes in cell biology,
which has an unclear relation to what we actually care about -
performance), the performance measurements differ. The 'latency' - how
long it takes the rats to get to the platform - has a small gap by
week 4 between uncaffeinated and caffeinated rats. But it's a very
small gap, and doesn't seem too interesting.

"Repeated measurements revealed that caffeine-fed rats were slower to
find the hidden platform than control rats during the initial testing
period, although the groups were similar at the later period (Fig.
1A)."

The next test seems to be 'how long the rats spent looking for the
hidden platform in the water where it was last time (lo those many
weeks ago)', and the difference there is quite substantial:

"To test the effect of caffeine on long-term memory we gave rats a
probe trial at 1, 2, and 3 weeks after training. There was no
performance difference between the caffeine-fed and the control groups
on the week 1 probe trial. However, caffeine-fed rats performed
significantly worse than control rats on the week 2 and week 3 probe
trials and spent only a little more time than that expected by chance
in the target quadrant (Fig. 1B)."

There is no overlap between the normal and caffeinated groups, and the
peak mean performance of the normals is about 20; the final mean of
the normals is about 15; and the caffeinated final mean is about 5.

One thing to note is that there are three performance tests here: 1A)
finding the hidden platform in the first place; 1B) time spent looking
in the right place; 1C) finding a visible platform. The differences
are neglible on 1A and 1C, but noticeable on 1B. 1B is, I think, the
task closest to trying to remember something ab initio, and the one we
should care about.

Is this relevant for us? Haven't there been many studies showing
caffeine aids intelligence and memory? The authors try to address
this:

"Extensive studies concerning the effects of caffeine on memory have
been conducted. Most of these studies have suggested that caffeine
improves memory [1,2,11,12]. However, the present study showed that
long-term consumption of caffeine could impair memory (Fig. 1). One of
the differences between the present study and previous studies is that
most of the previous studies were focused on the acute effects of
caffeine. Acute administration of caffeine decreased the threshold for
convulsants [13,14]. In contrast, chronic administration of caffeine
increased it [15,16]. Moreover, acute administration of caffeine
worsened ischemia-induced damage [17], however, chronic administration
of caffeine reduced it [18,19]."

[1] W.J. Riedel, J. Jolles, Cognition enhancers in age-related
cognitive decline, Drugs Aging 8 (1996) 245–274.
[2] W. Riedel, E. Hogervorst, R. Leboux, F. Verhey, H. van Praag, J.
Jolles, Caffeine attenuates scopolamine-induced memory impairment in
humans, Psychopharmacology (Berl) 122 (1995) 158–168.
[11] M.S. Gevaerd, R.N. Takahashi, R. Silveira, C. Da Cunha, Caffeine
reverses the memory disruption induced by intra-nigral MPTPinjection
in rats, Brain Res. Bull. 55 (2001) 101–106.
[12] R.D. Prediger, F.A. Pamplona, D. Fernandes, R.N. Takahashi,
Caffeine improves spatial learning deficits in an animal model of
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)—the spontaneously
hypertensive rat (SHR), Int. J. Neuropsychopharmacol. 8 (2005)
583–594.

While looking these up, I ran into another paper: 'Effects of caffeine
on learning and memory in rats tested in the Morris water maze' (also
uploaded):

"We studied some of the characteristics of the improving effect of the
non-specific adenosine receptor antagonist, caffeine, using an animal
model of learning and memory. Groups of 12 adult male Wistar rats
receiving caffeine (0.3-30 mg/kg, ip, in 0.1 ml/100 g body weight)
administered 30 min before training, immediately after training, or 30
min before the test session were tested in the spatial version of the
Morris water maze task. Post-training administration of caffeine
improved memory retention at the doses of 0.3-10 mg/kg (the rats swam
up to 600 cm less to find the platform in the test session, P£0.05)
but not at the dose of 30 mg/kg. Pre-test caffeine administration also
caused a small increase in memory retrieval (the escape path of the
rats was up to 500 cm shorter, P£0.05). In contrast, pre-training
caffeine administration did not alter the performance of the animals
either in the training or in the test session. These data provide
evidence that caffeine improves memory retention but not memory
acquisition, explaining some discrepancies among reports in the
literature."

This would seem to work well with the first paper, and leads to a
relatively simple piece of advice: caffeine hinders learning*, but
helps remembering. So avoid your coffee when you're studying something
the first time, but feel free to imbibe before a test or a review
session. (This would be good for a FAQ.)

* also, learning takes place over a while. The discrepancy on the
second test with Han's caffeinated/non-caffeinated mice takes place in
the *first* week: you will notice that the normals' score shoots up
until it peaks in week 2, while the caffeinated rats' score descends.
But after that, the lines are parallel downwards.

--
gwern

Gaël DEEST

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 1:22:31 PM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
> I have put the PDF up for the Group.
>
> "In this study, we chose a low dose of caffeine (0.3 g/L) for two main
> reasons: First, it leads to a plasma level of caffeine representative
> of regular daily human consumption; and second, in a model of neonatal
> ischemia, this low dose of 0.3 g/L was more protective than a higher
> dose, 0.8 g/L [10]. However, it would be of interest to extend the
> present study to other doses of caffeine."

Reading the actual study, I realized that 0.3 g/L was the
concentration of caffeine in the drinking water the rats were given,
*not* plasma or blood concentration as I thought.

This is pretty scary stuff.

kishjeff

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 2:45:35 PM3/23/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
how does one access the pdf? thanks
Jeff

Gaël DEEST

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 2:53:51 PM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
Open:

http://groups.google.com/group/brain-training?hl=en

Uploaded files are at the bottom of the page. You'll have to click
"View all" to read both studies.

I guess I won't be alone considering the switch to decaf, tonight ;)

2009/3/23 kishjeff <kis...@gmail.com>:

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Mar 23, 2009, 7:59:39 PM3/23/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM, Gaël DEEST <gael....@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Open:
>
> http://groups.google.com/group/brain-training?hl=en
>
> Uploaded files are at the bottom of the page. You'll have to click
> "View all" to read both studies.
>
> I guess I won't be alone considering the switch to decaf, tonight ;)

And incidentally I've uploaded in the past a number of other files,
such as the three main n-back papers, so if you haven't read them
now's your chance.

That said, I wish I knew more about the 'average daily' caffeine
level. I drink 1 or 2 mugs of green tea a day - is that up to this
level? Does the effect decrease proportionately? etc. As it is, all I
feel comfortable inferring is 'don't use caffeine while studying new
stuff'.

--
gwern

Gore Lando

unread,
Mar 24, 2009, 1:58:16 AM3/24/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
Uhh ... OK, maybe I'm wrong, but is this not the study where caffeine was delivered at the listed dosage to rats via their water supply?

"Caffeine was included in drinking water for the indicated time"

Due to that right there, these results don't concern me at all.  Look: if the rats are drinking water whenever they're thirsty, all day long, and even around times they would be resting or sleeping ... considering that the adrenergic stimulation caffeine produces dose-dependently increases desire for water, and so does prolonged insomnia ... uhh ... give me a break.

This does NOT NOT NOT model human consumption patterns -- where the people (in one way or another) are aware that they're taking a stimulating beverage, thereof tend to control their consumption to levels that don't make them obviously unpleasantly wired, tend to avoid drinking large amounts at bedtime every single day and continue drinking to get rid of thirst if they can't sleep for some reason (I'm not saying everyone doesn't do this, and there are some outliers/nutters, but clearly there is self-selection of dose going on.)

The damaging effects in both rats and humans on hippocampal neurogenesis, learning, cogntiive performance of -- prolonged sleep deprivation (and dehydration also) are well-documented and uncontroversial.

Meanwhile the various and very significant protective effects that appear to exist in relation to consumption of caffeine-bearing beverages (moreso than caffeine itself), in e.g. neurodegenerative conditions Parkinson's & Alzheimer's for coffee ... these are also well-documented.  The correlations are strong, so is the science in these studies.

Meanwhile the effects on cognition of caffeine are complex, varied, highly dependent on variables of dose and even situation or what is coadministered (e.g. other psychoactive agents in any of the major caffeine-bearing beverages) .................. as is cognition itself.

Personally I consider it a wonderful tool with benefits and drawbacks, and enjoy my yerba mate very much (coffee makes me jittery even at low doses, so I avoid it.)

Yeah, don't worry about this study IMO.

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Mar 24, 2009, 8:49:19 AM3/24/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 1:58 AM, Gore Lando <gore...@gmail.com> wrote:
> Uhh ... OK, maybe I'm wrong, but is this not the study where caffeine was
> delivered at the listed dosage to rats via their water supply?
>
> "Caffeine was included in drinking water for the indicated time"
>
> Due to that right there, these results don't concern me at all.  Look: if
> the rats are drinking water whenever they're thirsty, all day long, and even
> around times they would be resting or sleeping ... considering that the
> adrenergic stimulation caffeine produces dose-dependently increases desire
> for water, and so does prolonged insomnia ... uhh ... give me a break.
>
> This does NOT NOT NOT model human consumption patterns -- where the people
> (in one way or another) are aware that they're taking a stimulating
> beverage, thereof tend to control their consumption to levels that don't
> make them obviously unpleasantly wired, tend to avoid drinking large amounts
> at bedtime every single day and continue drinking to get rid of thirst if
> they can't sleep for some reason (I'm not saying everyone doesn't do this,
> and there are some outliers/nutters, but clearly there is self-selection of
> dose going on.)

I would say it does model human consumption reasonably well. Caffeine
is in all sorts of beverages; soda in particular is often consumed
like that - early in the day, late in the day, when one is thirsty,
and whenever.

People drink coffee when they get up in the morning, they drink coffee
when they get tired by lunch, they have some coffee to prep them up
mid-afternoon; then perhaps they go home or out and have some soda, or
maybe some tea with their dinner sushi, and so on. Caffeine is too
ingrained in a modern Western lifestyle for me to be as sanguine and
dismissive as you are.

--
gwern

Gore Lando

unread,
Mar 24, 2009, 6:51:49 PM3/24/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
It's more than a matter of drinking some at night; it's a matter of not being able to drink water that's uncaffeinated.  These rats are likely to have been dehydrated and insomniac.  Western Lifestyles are one thing, but if you're going to argue that most people are dehydrated and insomniac, then I'd have to point out that that is not supported by data & false.

Now some people are regularly dehydrated and missing sleep, whether for excessive caffeine consumption or other reasons, but as I said we already are well aware of the negative effects of these things, and the state is not equivalent to caffeine consumption in general.

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Mar 26, 2009, 11:34:36 AM3/26/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 6:51 PM, Gore Lando <gore...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's more than a matter of drinking some at night; it's a matter of not
> being able to drink water that's uncaffeinated.  These rats are likely to
> have been dehydrated and insomniac.  Western Lifestyles are one thing, but
> if you're going to argue that most people are dehydrated and insomniac, then
> I'd have to point out that that is not supported by data & false.
>
> Now some people are regularly dehydrated and missing sleep, whether for
> excessive caffeine consumption or other reasons, but as I said we already
> are well aware of the negative effects of these things, and the state is not
> equivalent to caffeine consumption in general.

If the rats are badly dehydrated and insomniacs to boot, then wouldn't
we expect to see their physical - and not just their mental -
performance deteriorate significantly? Remember that in the second
latency test, when the rats could see the platform and learning/memory
has no role, the two groups had minimal difference:

"Next, we performed a cue version of the MWM test 4 weeks after
drinking caffeinated water. The spatial version of theMWMtest is
dependent on the hippocampus;however, the cue version of the MWM test
is dependent on the striatum, not the hippocampus.As in the spatial
task, both groups learned the task gradually. Repeated measurements
showed no significant difference between the two groups (Fig. 1C)."
"(C) There was no significant difference between caffeine-fed and
control rats in a cue training test."

--
gwern

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 12:47:51 PM4/1/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On Tue, Mar 24, 2009 at 6:51 PM, Gore Lando <gore...@gmail.com> wrote:
> It's more than a matter of drinking some at night; it's a matter of not
> being able to drink water that's uncaffeinated.  These rats are likely to
> have been dehydrated and insomniac.  Western Lifestyles are one thing, but
> if you're going to argue that most people are dehydrated and insomniac, then
> I'd have to point out that that is not supported by data & false.
>
> Now some people are regularly dehydrated and missing sleep, whether for
> excessive caffeine consumption or other reasons, but as I said we already
> are well aware of the negative effects of these things, and the state is not
> equivalent to caffeine consumption in general.

So I emailed Sae-Ock Oh (one of the authors) and asked him about the rats & dehydration.

He replied today, saying "We did not notice the dehydration problem at that time."

--
gwern
signature.asc

rha...@cox.net

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 1:12:03 PM4/1/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
Hi All,

I am new to this list. I accidentally stumbled upon information about dual-n-back last weekend during a Google search. I am a clinical psychologist so I know a fair amount about intelligence and intelligence testing already. What an exciting finding! I am very interested in seeing replication studies and extension of this work in the future.

I've started with Brainworkshop and have progressed a little bit these first few days. I'm almost 42 so I assume my fluid intelligence is not quite what it used to be! Anyway, the progress graph on brainwork shop says I was at 2.75 on day one, a little under three on day two, a little over three on day four, and today I was at 3.5. I guess I am moving in the right direction. Have many of you have engaged in this training for a fairly long period of time (e.g., > 3 months)? I am curious if you have noticed any changes either subjectively or on formal IQ testing. I've searched the archives a bit but didn't find a ton of information about experiences of longer-term practitioners.

Thanks!

Rick

Gwern Branwen

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 1:44:35 PM4/1/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
This question is somewhat covered by my FAQ: http://community.haskell.org/~gwern/wiki/N-back FAQ.page

The relevant section is 'Benefits', under 'Does it really work?' For your convenience I'll paste it here, though it's pretty long:

"Jack Nguyen asked what benefits people saw from N-back use. The responses (and quotes from other threads) are, of course, entirely anecdotal, so take them as you will.

* Ashirgo: "To be honest, I do not feel any obvious difference. There are moments in which I perceive a significant improvement, though, as well as particulars task which are much easier now."
"I have also experienced better dream recalling, with all these reveries and other hallucinations included ;) I am more happier now than ever. I did doubt it would be ever possible! I am also more prone to get excited...Now people in my motherland are just boring to listen to. They speak too slow and seem as though it took them pains to express anything. I did not notice that after I had done my first ninety days of n-back, but now (after 2.5 months) it is just conspicuous."
* chinmi04: "For me, it definitely has taught me how to focus. But I'm still not sure whether that has something to do with merely coming to realize the importance of focusing, or whether the program has really physically rewired my brain to focus better. In any case, it appears that I'm now faster at mental reasoning, creative thinking and speaking fluency. But again, the effects are not so clear as to completely eliminate any doubt regarding the connection with the n-back program."
"I have been maintaining a personal blog on wordpress since 3 years ago. Average post per month : a little over 1. Then I started with dual-n-back at the end of november... number of posts in January : 7! (none are about n-back)"
* Confuzedd: "[asked if felt 'sharper']: Nothing."
* ArseneLupin: "Not much, yet, but I feel that I can easier get a hold of a discussion. The feeling is the same as when I am mastering a certain n-back in the game (a bit hard to explain)."
* John: "I feel much sharper since I started in the middle of last November...My productivity is much higher these days. I'm a non-fiction writer, so having a higher working memory and fluid intelligence directly leads to better (and faster) performance. It's amazing to see the stuff I produce today and compare it to before I began the Dual N-Back training. Also, I am simultaneously learning German, French and Spanish, and I'm certain this is helping me learn those languages faster."
* Ginkgo: "DN-Back has probably helped me with one of my hobbies."
* BamaDoc: "I note a subjective difference in recall. There might be some increase in attention, but I certainly do notice a difference in recall. It might be placebo, but I am convinced enough that I continue to find time to use the program."
* karnautrahl: "Since November however, I began to read the Neuroscience book in more detail. I mentioned late December I think that I was finding I could understand more stuff. I've spent about £1000 on books since November. The large majority are books on the brain, source from Amazon reviews, reading lists and out of my own pirate list when I liked a book. I stopped Dual n Back in December, early. The benefits have stayed however. I tested this the other day, very easily going to 3 n back, which was mostly where I was before. I guess in a way I'm trying to say that for me, whilst the focus may have been on G increase and IQ etc, now the focus is on--what's really happened and what can I do with it :). What I can do with it is choose to concentrate long enough to genuinely understand fairly technical in depth chapters on subjects often new to me."
"After not using this since around December last year, I still attribute my vastly improved concentration to DNB training...Some are degree textbooks or for med school students. I'm having no real trouble working through any of these....This isn't a case of how smart I became because I definitely have no comparison for this as I'm not on a course nor am I eligible for any degree placements at this time. What it is though, is my own personal testimony as to how much greater concentration I have than I ever had."
* negatron: "One perhaps coincidental thing I noticed is that dream recollection went up substantially. A good while after I stopped I developed an odd curiosity for what I previously considered unpleasant material, such as advanced mathematics. Never imagined I'd consider the thought of advanced calculus exciting. I began reading up on such subjects far more frequently than I used to. This was well after I've long forgotten about dual n-back so I find it hard to attribute it to a placebo effect, believing that I'm more adapted to this material. On the other hand I don't recall reading anything about motivational benefits to dual n-back training so I still consider this conjecture and perhaps an eventful coincidence just the same."
* Chris: "One thing I have noticed is the recollection of a number of very unpleasant images in dreams. Specifically, images of bodily disease, mutilation, injury and post-mortem decomposition. I find it difficult to believe it's just a coincidence, because I can't remember when I last had such a dream, and I've had maybe half a dozen since I started dual n-back. But perhaps it's simply owing to better recall."
* sutur: "i didn't really notice any concrete changes in my thinking process, which probably, if existent, are rather hard to detect reliably anyway. one thing i did notice however is an increased sense of calmness. i used to move my legs around an awful lot while sitting which i now don't feel the urge to anymore. but of course this could be placebo or something else entirely. i also seem to be able to read text (in books or on screen) more fluently now with less danger of distraction. however, personally i am quite skeptic when people describe the changes they notice. changes in cognitive capacity are probably quite subtle, build up slowly and are hard to notice through introspection."
* astriaos: "By 'robust', I mean practically everything I do is qualitatively different from how I did things 30 days previous to the dual n-back training. For instance, in physics class I went from vaguely understanding most of the concepts covered in class to a mastery thorough enough that now my questions usually transcend the scope of the in-class and textbook material, routinely stupefying my physics teacher into longer-than-average pauses. It's the same experience for all of my classes. Somehow, I've learned more-than-I usually learn of physics/government/ etc. (all of my classes, and any topic in general) information from sources outside of class, and without what I consider significant effort. I feel like my learning speed has gone up by some factor greater than 1; I can follow longer arguments with greater precision; my vocabulary has improved; I can pay attention longer; my problem solving skills are significantly better... Really, it's amazing how much cognition depends on attention!"
* flashquartermaster reports N-back cured his chronic fatigue syndrome?"

--
gwern
signature.asc

dualnback

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 3:40:45 PM4/1/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
Gwern,

Thanks for your hard work!

On Apr 1, 1:44 pm, Gwern Branwen <gwe...@gmail.com> wrote:
>  signature.asc
> < 1KViewDownload

MR

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 4:38:42 PM4/1/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
Here's a blog entry where someone relates his experience with Dual N-
Back and his before/after IQ score.

http://inhumanexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/03/increasing-intelligence-by-playing.html

LSaul probably documented the greatest increase in IQ so far with two
of the most reliably measured IQ scores reported here. After two
months of regular n-back use, he saw his IQ go from below the cutoff
for mensa (less than 131 I think) to 150 or so on the WAIS
(administered by a psychologist). Though this jump seems unbelievable,
he has the documents to prove both scores.

You can get more info about his experience here:
http://groups.google.ca/group/brain-training/browse_thread/thread/8af44f3b20df9904/f375f3e0fb3136bf?lnk=gst&q=#f375f3e0fb3136bf
and here: http://groups.google.ca/group/dualnback/browse_thread/thread/97b2340497476ecc/9959b6da18f8fbea#9959b6da18f8fbea

Enjoy,

M

Rick Handel

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 7:24:59 PM4/1/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com

> On Apr 1, 1:44 pm, Gwern Branwen <gwe...@gmail.com> wrote:

<SNIP>

> > This question is somewhat covered by my
> > FAQ:http://community.haskell.org/~gwern/wiki/N-backFAQ.page

<SNIP>

Thanks! Very informative.

Rick


Gwern Branwen

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 8:08:16 PM4/1/09
to brain-t...@googlegroups.com
On Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 4:38 PM, MR <rous...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> Here's a blog entry where someone relates his experience with Dual N-
> Back and his before/after IQ score.
>
> http://inhumanexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/03/increasing-intelligence-by-playing.html
>
> LSaul probably documented the greatest increase in IQ so far with two
> of the most reliably measured IQ scores reported here. After two
> months of regular n-back use, he saw his IQ go from below the cutoff
> for mensa (less than 131 I think) to 150 or so on the WAIS
> (administered by a psychologist). Though this jump seems unbelievable,
> he has the documents to prove both scores.
>
> You can get more info about his experience here:
> http://groups.google.ca/group/brain-training/browse_thread/thread/8af44f3b20df9904/f375f3e0fb3136bf?lnk=gst&q=#f375f3e0fb3136bf
> and here: http://groups.google.ca/group/dualnback/browse_thread/thread/97b2340497476ecc/9959b6da18f8fbea#9959b6da18f8fbea
>
> Enjoy,
>
> M

That first link is useful: not only is it another datapoint for the IQ
tests, it also links to one I haven't seen before - and even better,
one which varies the questions!

--
gwern

MR

unread,
Apr 1, 2009, 10:36:04 PM4/1/09
to Dual N-Back, Brain Training & Intelligence
A few things to keep in mind about that test:

1. It assumes that the average IQ of people taking the test is 100.
This may not necessarily be true since there may be a selection bias
for people who log on to the internet and choose to spend 30 minutes
taking an IQ test. One site said that the average IQ for its test-
takers was 117 (see discussion about ThinkFast at
http://www.eskimo.com/~miyaguch/MCReport/mcreport3.html).

2. It uses a standard deviation (SD) of 24 whereas most tests people
are familiar with use a SD of 15 or 16. This means that if you score
148 on that test, it would be equivalent to scoring 130 on a test with
a SD of 15 etc... More amazingly, a person with a an IQ of 145 on a
test with a SD of 15 would get a score of 172 on a test with a SD of
24.

Based on this, I wouldn't use the test to estimate your actual IQ, or
to compare results with previous scores on other tests, but it's
probably a good option if you want to compare your own scores on that
test longitudinally as the author of that blog did.

M

On Apr 1, 5:08 pm, Gwern Branwen <gwe...@gmail.com> wrote:
> On Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 4:38 PM, MR <rouss...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> > Here's a blog entry where someone relates his experience with Dual N-
> > Back and his before/after IQ score.
>
> >http://inhumanexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/03/increasing-intelligence...
>
> > LSaul probably documented the greatest increase in IQ so far with two
> > of the most reliably measured IQ scores reported here. After two
> > months of regular n-back use, he saw his IQ go from below the cutoff
> > for mensa (less than 131 I think) to 150 or so on the WAIS
> > (administered by a psychologist). Though this jump seems unbelievable,
> > he has the documents to prove both scores.
>
> > You can get more info about his experience here:
> >http://groups.google.ca/group/brain-training/browse_thread/thread/8af...
> > and here:http://groups.google.ca/group/dualnback/browse_thread/thread/97b23404...
Reply all
Reply to author
Forward
0 new messages