Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brain Training

My short-term memory capacity was labeled as "relatively poor" in my elementary school days. I came to accept this label, however, I viewed it as a disadvantage.

Only recently, with my interest in self-improvement, did I try to look online for information on how I could improve my memory capacity. I stumbled on something called the dual n-back task. It was claimed that training with this task improved working memory and fluid intelligence. Working memory is a type of short-term memory. Fluid intelligence is intelligence used to solve novel problems.

What is the dual n-back task? It may be easier to first explain what "n-back" means. In an n-back task, where n represents any number, a series of stimuli is presented and one is given the task of deciding whether the current stimulus matches a previous stimulus n times back in the series. For example, In a 1-back task, suppose the following numbers are presented:

4, 6, 3, 4, 4, 2, 6

A correct match would be occur when the fifth number in the series is presented, the fifth number being a 4, since the number 1 time back in the series was also a 4.

A dual n-back task requires us to follow two types of stimuli. Adding to the numbers example above, suppose the numbers are coloured, the colour being the second type of stimulus. If we presented the following series:

red 4, red 6, green 3, blue 4, blue 4, green 2, orange 6,

in a dual 1-back task, a colour match would occur when the red 6 is presented (since the colour 1 time back was also a red), and a colour and a number match would occur when the second blue 4 is presented (since the colour 1 time back was also a blue, and the number 1 time back was also a 4).

I searched for dual n-back software that I could train with and found a great one called Brain Workshop on Source-Forge.net, a website I have mentioned in a previous post.

Here's to improving our intelligence by using our computers!

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