Do You Need A Mind Sparke?

Do you have 19 days to dramatically improve your brain? Martin G. Walker, the creator of the brain training software called Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro, is asking just that.

When you click over to the home page, you will notice a distinct lack of gloss and flash. The pared down design gets straight to the benefits of the program and is reflective of Walker’s philosophy – let the science speak for itself.

MindSparke is based on the ground breaking study led by Susanne M. Jaeggi which found that specific training of the working memory can improve fluid intelligence – your ability to reason, adapt and problem solve.

The study showed that participants who trained on a specific protocol for 25 minutes a day showed fluid intelligence improvements of 40% compared to the control group. This was huge and spread like wildfire all over the internet last year because it was previously thought that intelligence was set at birth.

Brain Fitness Pro is based on this exact method which simultaneously trains your aural and visual working memory.

The Basics:

You’ll train for 30 minutes a day for 19 days. The benefits come fast.

The Results:

Short term memory scores typically improve 30-40% within the first 8 days of training with increased brain power developing throughout the 19 day training period.

After the initial 19 days, you’ll train for 30 minutes just once or twice a week to maintain your results and continue improvement.

The Test:

I purchased the program last night. The program runs $19.95 per month, and you can pay as you go. There is also an option to pay an annual fee of $159.50 which saves you $79.90.

Mind Sparke also has a Junior version for ages 6-12 which retails for $63.95. The price covers all children in a household.

 

A Surprising Bonus:

This morning I was greeted by a personal email from Martin Walker thanking me for the purchase. He took time to visit Brain Training 101, complimented the site and offered his time and resources to me.

That is customer service.

I can tell from our email exchange this morning that Martin is incredibly passionate about the product he has developed and is truly interested in his customers’ results.

He has also kindly agreed to do a one on one interview with me, so look for that here on the site at the end of my test period.

It’s suggested that you take an IQ or SAT type of test to get a current baseline before beginning the training. I took an IQ test this morning and scored very much the same as I did when I was professionally evaluated as a child. I’m not too keen on my exact score being published, but I will disclose that I am a member of MENSA and while I don’t have Einstein’s IQ, I do alright. (OK. I have no sense of direction and I fully admit to that.)

I began the 19 day training period this morning. I will be editing this post with daily updates of my thoughts and progress.

With the pay as you go fee, the sound science and the quick results I figured this is a great time to get started on a completely manageable brain training regimen.

My New Year’s Resolution – A Better Brain.

Update: I have now finished the 19 day trial. You can scroll down to see my daily updates or you can read my Brain Fitness Pro review which includes my post test results and the improvements I experienced.

Besides, there is a wonderful guarantee –

“If after 10 days you don’t notice a difference in the clarity, speed and power of your thinking we’ll give you a full refund plus $40 toward another brain fitness product of your choice.” – Courtesy of Mind Sparke

For those of you who already use Mind Sparke and those of you who are purchasing it, please share your thoughts and progress in the comments. It would be great to see different results.

Day 1

I shut all doors, turned off the phone and plugged my ear buds into my computer. You don’t need headphones to hear the sounds, but the instructions do suggest you use them to further block out distractions.

I read the help file – a few times – as I wanted to be sure I was doing this right. My brain is rusty from way too much fun over the holidays, and I didn’t want to completely embarrass myself in front of you.

OK. So you’ll have 20 training blocks per session. You’re to do one session per day for 19 days, however the help file did say it was OK to take a break of a day or two here and there. For the purpose of this test, I intend to go straight through the 19 days.

Even though I read the help file a few times, I still started out thoroughly confused – and performed horribly. (My brain is seriously out of shape.)

On my first block I scored 8 hits and 5 misses. (There are actually 12 correct hits in a block, and you must score less than 3 misses.) It wasn’t until block 8 that I scored below 3 misses which advanced me to a higher difficulty level. I immediately scored 7 misses on this new level and was bounced back down to the initial one. Go brain!

I understand this is typical of the first few days. Below you’ll find a few lines from the program pep talk. (The checks are mine.)

“Expect to feel overwhelmed.” Check!

“The program is designed to tax your brain.” Check!

“For most people, this isn’t a comfortable experience.” Check!

“After three or four days you start to get the hang of it, your brain will start to expand, and you’ll find yourself wishing you could go right into another test session instead of waiting a day.” We’ll see.

By the end of the 20 blocks, I was exhausted. It took about 30 minutes, and my brain hurt. Not the bad headache kind of hurt, but the “I just had an intense workout” hurt. That’s the kind of hurt I was looking for – the kind that will kick me into shape in 19 days.

Upon completion of each session you’ll receive an Average n-back score.

Mine is currently 2.15.

You can order Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro by clicking here.

See you tomorrow!

Day 2

I got a full night’s rest and had a light breakfast before training. Today the n=2 levels came much easier, and my comfort level was definitely higher.

After beginning the session on the n=2 level, I immediately advanced to n=3. Of course n=3 gets me pretty much every time so I was immediately bumped back down a difficulty level.

By training block 15 I was able to score under 3 misses on the n=3 level and for the first time do a second block (in a row) at that same degree of difficulty.

I marked 11 misses on that second n=3, and really felt the fatigue set in. The last four blocks were taxing to say the least and only two of those were spent at n=3.

Day 2 average n-back score= 2.5. Time= 30 minutes

 

Day 3

I woke up this morning to a migraine and those of you who suffer from them will understand I did not feel like sparking my mind in any way. My friend, Tori Deaux of MindTweaks, also developed a migraine (while taking her baseline IQ test no less). Good times on the brain blogs today!

After an injection of Imitrex and a day of low lighting, I was feeling much better. So, on with training.

I scored perfectly on my first block and then went up to n=3 and fell on my face. I bounced back and forth between n=2 and n=3 until somehow in the 19th block I advanced to n=4. That was a shock because I still feel seriously lost on the n=3 level.

N=4 was a catastrophe with 5 hits and 10 misses (stop laughing), and I of course was bumped back down a level. I’m not sure if it was the shift to evening testing, the Imitrex or the training – but I don’t feel as tired after this session.

Day 3 average n-back score= 2.65. Time= 25 minutes

 

Day 4

I waited until mid afternoon to train today, and I’m thinking that wasn’t my brightest move. That three o’clock slump doesn’t help my focus.

I bounced back and forth between n=2 and n=3 today. Did not make it back up to n=4.

Day 4 average n-back score= 2.50. Time= 25 minutes

 

Day 5

Today’s session didn’t start until 7:39pm and I think that’s just too late for me. I was tired and worn down from a long day. I did make one block at n=4.

Day 5 average n-back score= 2.6. Time= 30 minutes

 

Day 6

I aimed for a morning session today, but the day got away and didn’t start until almost 3pm. I found myself less taxed than I normally am during training, however I still got that Block 15 slump.

Day 6 average n-back score= 2.5. Time= 31 minutes

 

Day 7

Started training at just before 3pm and spent quite a bit of the session on n=3 with two blocks at n=4. I seem to be getting better. I notice that I’m able to focus more easily and stay on task. (My mind is usually all over the place.)

Day 7 average n-back score= 2.85. Time= 32 minutes

 

Day 8

OK. Busy day. Didn’t train until after 10pm. I definitely had my best training day so far.

Something I noticed the evening of Day 5 – I have this weekly planner where I write out my to-do lists each day. I usually end up getting a few things done on the list and then spend the rest of the day getting distracted and doing things that weren’t a priority.

I then move the important unfinished tasks to the next day or later in the week. That evening I was going through the planner to mark completed tasks off and I noticed I completed everything for that day.

I didn’t say anything here because I wasn’t sure it was Mind Sparke.

Then it happened again on Day 6, and I actually spent Day 7 and today not only finishing my daily list, but going back to older tasks and getting those done too.

That’s big for me. I am usually all over the place and while I’ve never suffered from an attention disorder, I often get distracted during my day.

Day 8 average n-back score= 3.10. Time= 35 minutes

 

Day 9

Long day. Trained a little after 7pm. Started out at n=3 and was able to jump right up to n=4. Things started to fall apart around half way through the session and finished up completely exhausted.

Day 9 average n-back score= 3.05. Time= 35 minutes

 

Day 10

I trained just after 1pm today and felt much clearer. I stayed steady between n=3 and n=4 the entire time. I’m getting mostly perfect scores on n=3 which I would have never imagined a few days back.

Day 10 average n-back score= 3.5. Time= 33 minutes

Day 11

I had to split my training into two sessions today due to my schedule. I found it much easier to get through this way. Still alternating between n=3 and n=4.

Day 11 average n-back score= 3.6. Time= 32 minutes

 

Day 12

This was a weird session. The software ate two of my training blocks, so after I completed 10 – it registered only 8. I keep all my scores by hand, so I know I was correct. After I completed the extra two blocks, the software skipped ahead one block. ???

Then my HP printer software attempted to hijack my computer and run an update. So, it was definitely a distracting session. I still scored my high score so far, so I’m definitely able to refocus fairly easily and get back on task.

Day 12 average n-back score= 3.75. Time= 33 minutes

 

Day 13

I found myself spacing out a lot during this session. I did score well enough to spend two blocks at n=5, however I performed terribly there. Going up to that level also confused my counting when stepping back down to n=4 and especially n=3.

It’s funny – just when you start to gain a little confidence on this thing, it ups your difficulty level and makes you feel like an idiot again. Good times!

Day 13 average n-back score= 3.75. Time= 30 minutes

 

Day 14

I started this session at 10:43 am and didn’t finish until 11:36 am. My dog Zoey was not cooperating at all today and interrupted several blocks. There’s some kind of commotion going on in the park outside, and she is all over that.

I had to cancel quite a few blocks and start over, but finally made it through. I spent most of the time on n=4 with a few n=3 levels and one n=5.

I’m starting to look forward to training which is something I never thought would happen. The scoring must suit my personality because I find myself working to get that average n-back score to jump into the 4s.

Day 14 average n-back score= 3.9. Time= 53 minutes

 

Day 15

Began today’s session at 9:45 am. I had quite a bit to get done before my scheduled interview with Martin, so I was pretty distracted.

I stayed mostly at n=4 with a few bumps down to n=3 and with 4 blocks at n=5. Training is much easier to get through these days, and I’m not feeling so tired after the session.

Day 15 average n-back score= 4.05. Time= 35 minutes

 

Day 16

I had a tough time focusing on training today, and I’m not sure why. I spent the first two blocks on n=4 and then fell back to n=3. Even though I bumped up to n=5, I never felt like I was in a good rhythm.

So, I took a break after block 13 and Zoey and I went for a hike. I came back feeling much better and even maintained n=5 for two blocks in a row.

Day 16 average n-back score= 4.20. Time= 37 minutes

 

Day 17

Started today’s session just before 6pm and ended up splitting it into two so I could eat dinner. The first 10 sessions looked really good – I was able to stay between n=4 and n=5.

I broke for dinner, came back and there was a lot going on. Zoey was literally beating down the door to get in, the dogs in the yard behind me barked the entire time and there is some kind of party going on (I can hear the music).

Still, I was able to stay calm and focused and again stayed between n=4 and n=5. I’m starting to view my training as “my time for me” and it’s become a nice stress reliever. (Never would have thought that, and if you’re anywhere in your first week of training I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes.)

Day 17 average n-back score= 4.30. Time= 34 minutes

 

Day 18

Today was one of those days where if I wasn’t doing the 19 days straight through, I would have taken the day off. My head just wasn’t in it. Days like these, in my opinion, do nothing to further my progress.

I alternated between n=4 and n=5 with one slip down to n=3. I’m still struggling quite a bit with n=5.

Day 18 average n-back score= 4.15. Time= 30 minutes

 

Day 19

Alright! Last day of the 19 day test period. I have mixed feelings. I am so happy to not have to train everyday from here out, however I think I’m actually going to miss my daily sessions.

I am aiming for once to twice a week and will periodically post updates to let you know how I’m progressing.

Today, I alternated between n=4 and n=5. I have brief moments during the n=5 level where I can follow along, but for the most part I am completely lost.

Martin mentioned that I should give myself a week to let the intelligence gains consolidate before taking any post tests. So I will take the rest and then I’ll be back with my final test results and a complete run down of the product.

Day 19 average n-back score= 4.45. Time= 36 minutes

I know some of you have already ordered. Please let me know how your training is going by either posting in the comments below or sending me an email. The 19 days can get long, and it’s easy to get discouraged. I think it helps to talk to others who are going through or have gone through the training themselves.

You can order Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro by clicking here.

 

Brain Training 101 chooses products to review based on quality. Some of these products are part of affiliate programs which earn the site a commission. Mind Sparke is one of these products. Our philosophy has always been to provide in depth, honest reviews of high quality products regardless of their participation in affiliate programs.

Erin Matlock About the author, Erin Matlock
Erin Matlock is the CEO of Brain Pages, Inc, a media company specializing in the promotion of brain focused resources and professionals. Along with heading up BRAIN PAGES, the company's brain friendly directory and online community, she serves as Founder and Editor in Chief of BrainTraining101.com and TheBrainChannel.com.

49 Comments On This Post

  1. Is it possible to get a free 2 week trial for a site license for school use in my title I classroom? If so, could you please send me information

    Reply
  2. I really have to agree with Mark C, level 2 is quite simple, then the game would be hard to comprehend as the level progresses. Even so, its all about the individual, level 4 in 5 days was quite a feet for me. But motivation really helps, spend time on it and brain activity will show proficiency.

    Reply
  3. I think its amazing you went from 2.15 at day one to 4.45 in just 19 days, i purchased this today and Day 1 I scored 2.4 ….I had a perfect score with N=2 more then 50% of the time, it became quite easy but the second i hit N=3 I almost forgot how the “game” worked. lol I think at one point i just sat there and blinked at the screen and didn’t even press 1 button! Tough stuff, I can’t imagine ever getting in the 4.0 range.

    Reply
  4. Thank you very much for your review and progress report. I am now logging my progress in my journal. I have the iPhone app.

    I too found the instructions a little tricky to follow. After a couple of games I then realised what I’m supposed to be doing.

    Tonight I trained for 30mins. I found the first 15mins flew by, the second half was tough.

    I will keep a record of 19 days and post my progress.

    Hope you post further updates of your experience and progress.

    Reply
  5. Hi Erin, I recently found your site and signed up for newsletter. Today I got your email about Brain Fitness Pro and wanted to read more. I’m very impressed with the results you got from this program, but I noticed this post is a few years old. Now the big question – did the benefits you received from this program last? If so how long? I think this is one of the big questions about brain training – is it like exercising the body where you have to keep at it? Or are changes to the brain permanent (or semi-permanent)?

    Reply
  6. [...] 2009 is officially behind us, and as we move into a brand new year, it’s time to make those New Year’s resolutions. I started last year with the goal of a better brain. [...]

    Reply
  7. Michelle –

    “could you IMAGINE what that would be like at n=10 or above????”

    No. I’m sure there are a few out there who could handle it, but I’m not one of them. Just thinking about it hurts my brain. :-)

    Reply
  8. On the matter of triple n-back tasks – could you IMAGINE what that would be like at n=10 or above????

    You’d probably end up either a freakish multi-tasking memory genius or in a straightjacket………. (or maybe both) LOL

    Reply
  9. Hey Anne!

    Thanks! :-) I will forever struggle with the homophones. My worst offense: their and they’re.

    Reply
  10. The paired down design gets straight to the benefits of the program and is reflective of Walker’s philosophy

    Dear Erin,
    Just a proof-reading issue – that should be “pared” down on the Mind Sparke information page.

    http://www.facebook.com/ext/share.php?sid=103926189821&h=931xC&u=6cIJu&ref=nf

    Blessings,
    Anne. – sorry, I can’t help myself when I have the opportunity to tidy up spelling and punctuation.

    Reply
  11. Hey Michelle!

    Congrats on your MindSparke training! You are doing extremely well and how fascinating to be training during your IQ test administration. I would love to hear your thoughts on the training and if it helped once your evaluation is complete.

    “I can feel the difference in my working memory because I can actually feel the experience of holding sets of info from different modalities and working on it as each new letter/square appears.”

    I found this part to be SO addictive. With MindSparke the results come so fast and are so easy to measure. It’s incredibly rewarding to feel your brain improve like that.

    “Has anyone had any experience with a neuroscientist-designed software program called Simply Smarter?”

    I looked it up but had not heard of it before. I suspect there are quite a few gems hiding out in various corners of the internet. If you try it, please let us know what you think.

    “I also love MyBrainTrainer. Doing it feels like a lab experiment, but having done it for about 6 weeks now, I’m noticing improvements in processing speed in other brain exercises done at home and in my executive functioning…Anyone else tried this one?”

    I have heard good things about MyBrainTrainer, but have not tried it myself. Good to hear it’s working for you – I may have to go take a look! LOL

    Good luck on the rest of your WAIS!

    Reply
  12. I’m loving this Mind Sparke software! At day 9 I’ve gone from my 2.30 starting point to 4.10, and I wouldn’t have ever believed it possible, as my working memory has always been relatively weak compared to abstract reasoning and both visual-spatial and verbal intelligence. In fact, I’m in the middle of neuropsych & IQ evaluation at present because I thought I may have been gifted learning disabled. Turns out that it doesn’t look like I’m going to end up learning disabled, but the IQ results are likely to be high. The WAIS-IV is being doled out to me in small chunks (due to the fact that I have an anxiety disorder and the psychologist – an associate prof and researcher – only does private practice one afternoon a week) so I don’t yet know my overall scores as I’ve only done the Vocabulary and digit span subtests so far. I reached the ceiling on vocab but my digit span was 6 a month ago. (I’m hoping that the latter will improve long-term……..) The neuropsychologist thinks I’ll probably be in the 97th-98th percentile overall, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see. I’m due to do some of the visual-spatial perfomance subtasks when he returns back from his research trip, so hopefully the dual n-back stuff will see me improve in the fluid intelligence tasks that I haven’t done yet.

    I’m going to mention my progress to the neuropsychologist when I see him.

    I can feel the difference in my working memory because I can actually feel the experience of holding sets of info from different modalities and working on it as each new letter/square appears. I couldn’t do that before. I can’t imagine getting to n=6 like others here (that’s amazing!) but then I guess I couldn’t imagine even doing n=2 successfully 10 days ago. I intend to keep it up permanently once a day.

    BTW – has anyone had any experience with a neuroscientist-designed software program called Simply Smarter? It’s designed especially to improve digit span (well, basically it’s for sequential memory – digits, letters, and visual), and I’m thinking of forking out the $99 so I can work at that as well.

    PS I also love MyBrainTrainer. Doing it feels like a lab experiment, but having done it for about 6 weeks now, I’m noticing improvements in processing speed in other brain exercises done at home and in my executive functioning. I signed up for the 2 month plan at $9.99, but when it’s due for renewal I’m going to go for a 12 month one. Anyone else tried this one? It’s less game like than Lumosity, but beneficial.

    Reply
  13. Thanks for the info on both scoring systems. Truthfully, I’m not sure I’ll ever purchase MS as I’ve yet to see any compelling reasons to purchase. If soakyourhead.com ever goes away, then MS will certainly have a hand in my pocket. But from what I understand, MS is making some updates to the software that will add a new dimension to the game play, so that could be defining factor for shipping out my digital greenbacks.
    Glad to hear you’ll be back at the snack bar with the rest of us sometime soon. Thanks for the mentioning some of the anticipated benefits of playing. I’m looking forward to the mental clouds parting on day five, which is in fact tomorrow. =D

    Reply
  14. Justin,

    From what I could see SYH and MS score your results the same way. MS calls it an “average n-back score” where SYH calls it your “n Level.” If you are already up to 3.65, you’re doing VERY WELL. Good on ya!

    I really started to notice a difference in my thinking around Day 5. It’s not so much that you’ll see a jump in your score, but you should notice a difference in your daily cognitive functions.

    And as for not being disciplined…BAH! I’m only doing it because I need to isolate the programs for these reviews. Once I get through them, I will be back to my buffet of brain training – just like you. :-)

    Reply
  15. I have not used Mind Sparke (yet, perhaps). I’ve been using soakyourhead.com dual-n-back online game for the last three days and have seen a steady increase in results. Dunno if Mind Sparkes software uses the same scoring system, but today I reached 3.65 after starting at 2.15 two days ago. I’m going to continue the regiment at soakyourhead.com for the remaining 16 days to see what results I get. I’m not as disciplined as you when it comes to isolating games and training programs unfortunately. I just opened up a luminosity account last week, play Brain Age 1 and 2, and a couple of vocabulary games depending on my mood. So it may be difficult to come to an objective conclusion about which methods are producing which results, but I really don’t care as long as I’m having fun and getting teh smartypants on the uppity. =]

    Reply
  16. I’ve been waiting for that question! :-)

    I had to stop using Mind Sparke because I have some other software programs that I am testing for upcoming reviews. I like to work with one at a time so I can be sure the results are coming from the actual program I’m testing.

    I will tell you this: I miss Mind Sparke. That program got my brain into such FANTASTIC shape, and my thinking was fast and crystal clear. I FELT it when I stopped using it – just like you would when you suddenly stop working out at the gym.

    I ran a couple of sessions last week just for fun:

    The first one was a little rough, although not as bad as I thought it would be. The second went ok, and by the third I got my n-back score back up to the level I achieved while doing consistent training.

    That was pretty cool, and it made me very happy. I worried that because I had been out of training for well over a month, I would perform poorly.

    Do you use Mind Sparke?

    Reply
  17. Erin, just out of curiosity, have you continued your dual-n-back training on a weekly basis? If so, have you seen any improvements in your score?

    Reply
  18. Hi there Erin:

    I can see how you mind feel overwhelmed by the GIQTest. I found it quite tough and found the digit-span interface triggered frustration.

    Whatever the outcome turns out to be, know that I’ll still like your site, and still see your posts about BFPro as worthwhile and fun!

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  19. Hey guys!

    I’ve been up to my eyeballs in code these past few days – I’m customizing a new theme for the site. I’m sorry I haven’t been around much.

    I will be taking my post tests this weekend and will then write my final review. After reading your comments, I am dreading the giqtest.

    Reply
  20. Hi there Will. Thanks for the thorough reply to my comments. I have been thoroughly enjoying our dialogues! My replies are embedded within your replies.

    Will – The pictures/matrix reasoning was tough — how did it compare to the WAIS 3 matrix reasoning sub-test?

    >>>>>

    Shaun – I don’t really remember. Both were not timed – I had as long as I needed. Also, I scored similarly on both. In the WAIS my percentile rating on the Martrix reasoning was 99th percentile, and that’s rather similar to what I scored on the GIQ.

    >>>>>

    Will – As for an IQ of 220, that’s used to be achievable for children on the old Binet, but now is no longer possible for anyone since no tests go that high…cap out as they do at 160 0r 4 sd’s above the mean. Maybe that’s good news? :-)

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Yes. That does seem to be good news. While it doesn’t really actually matter whether a 220 IQ is attainable or not to me, it is good to know that the max these days is 160. Sweet! That’s more manageable for sure ;)

    >>>>>

    Will – The handful of people who theoretically do have deviation IQ’s that high (6-7 sd’s above the mean, only a handful of few people on planet earth) probably want to achieve something with it and don’t care much about their IQ…but unfortunately for them, they lack an advantage over someone with 125/130 IQ (1.5-2 sds above the mean) — study after study has shown that Spearman’s diminishing returns wipe out the advantage at the right end of the bell curve…sort of like saying that the best basketball players have to be extremely tall, but not necessarily 8 foot giants.

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Hmm. I’ve not heard of Spearman’s diminishing returns before. Please tell me more! Also, to over-extend the metaphor, 8 feet may not provide an advantage for b-ball, but it might in other domains – like… hmm… painting homes or changing light bulbs. :-). It’s interesting what you mention about those people with outlying IQs wanting to achieve something with their gifts. What I want to achieve falls into the “personal growth” category. Also, I want to achieve a certain lifestyle, and to live in a certain environment. Amongst others, those are some of what I’d like to achieve. IQ Training is done for the personal growth aspect.

    >>>>>

    Will – You mention Da Vinci. Case of special talents + very high level of G…in the upper ranges, what separates a genius from a typical high IQ person is specific Talent (s). It’s never IQ in and of itself; IQ is just a necessary but insufficient condition for achievement; (see Jensen on this).

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Hmm. Jensen sounds neat. Unfortunately I am not aware of having any special talent myself. I can type pretty fast! Does that count? Probably not, so that’s a bummer. ;).

    >>>>>

    Will – There’s some confusion about IQ=genius w/ people online and high IQ societies and so forth…Malcolm Gladwell, in his new book “Outliers” does a very good job in clearing up this confusion.

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Sounds neat too. Love the books! Would you (please) post a recommended reading list on one of the Brain Training Web sites. I would really appreciate that, especially if there were rated by you. I admire your background knowedge about intelligence. If not that’s okay too :-)

    >>>>>

    Will – For my own interests, I don’t have ambitions to gain an IQ that isn’t mine, higher or lower (definitely not lower!), but I do want to “realize” what I have been given by genetics….I’d like for my functioning aspect of IQ (processing speed and working memory) to be fairly close to my stable IQ (verbal and visual reasoning)…I feel like I’m getting there now, which is a nice feeling.

    >>>>>

    Shaun – I too would like to change my processing speed for the better. To reward myself for completing the next 50 BFPro sessions, I am contemplating buying myself the $29.95 one year subscription to the mybraintrainer.com Web site. The processing speed exercises seem worth my while.

    >>>>>

    Will – And I’d be curious to know what you’re verbal and visual reasoning index scores were on the WAIS…I imagine that they were in the 140’s, given your WMI and PSI brought them down to the mid 130’s. Mybraintrainer will definitely help you w/ processing speed…once you eyeball the exercises, you’ll see why. I used to think processing speed was just secretarial nonsense..and had an intellectual disdain toward it, a typical attitude of the well educated, slow processor ;-) but I was wrong. Having this skill makes a big difference in my life; I’m so much faster with clerical stuff than I was. Makes my life much better…

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Yeah, I am quite a slow processor relative to my other non-special talents ;-). The stuff at mybraintrainer looked interesting, actually that’s an understatement. But, I was turned off by the subscription style of payment. I’d rather just download like with MindSparke. I need more persuasion ;-).

    In the WAIS the Verbal IQ score is an aggregate of seven subscores. While I wasn’t given my index rating in these seven subscores, I was given my Ave SS (ave sum of squares?) and my percentile rating. These follow:

    Vocabulary = 16 / 98%
    Similarities = 18 / >99%
    Arithmetic = 16 / 98%
    Digit Span = 11 / 63%
    Information = 15 / 95%
    Comprehension = 15 / 95%
    Letter Number Sequencing = 14 / 91%

    It might be possible to derive an index from the Sums of Squares and percentiles. Unfortunately, on the similarities the >99 doesn’t indicate just how much greater than the 99th percentile I scored. It might be possible to derive that from Sum of Squares. I would like to know, but I can see how someone could see that as a narcissistic aspect of my personality – perhaps.

    In the WAIS the Performance IQ score is also an aggregate of seven subscores too (picture completion, digit-symbol coding, block design, matrix reasoning, picture arrangement, symbol search, and object assembly). My average Sum of Squares and percentile rating for these were

    Picture Completion = 13 / 84%,
    Digit Symbol Coding = 14 / 91%,
    Block Design = 15 / 95%,
    Matrix Reasoning = 17 / 99%,
    Picture Arrangement = 14 / 91%,
    Symbol Search = 12 / 75%,
    Object Assembly = results_not_provided

    So the highest was in the Matrix Reasoning. Again it would be neat to be able to derive index scores from these. The limitation in my statistics knowledge is preventing me from doing so.

    Maybe you can help me with that Will. How could I derive index scores from my SS and percentile scores? Also, how could I determine the decimal places of the >99th percentile in the Vocabulary Similarities. These would be nice to know. Again, I can see how this could be viewed as concieted because it’s about “me.”

    >>>>>

    Will – As for sub-atomic physics, when I get the chance I’m reading “The Quantum World” by Kenneth Ford. I’ve read (and own) Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” — very good book. .I’m way out of my depths with physics, just a fairly new side interest, though I do find it fascinating… I’d say that Martin is really the one to get engaged in a discussion given he majored in it at Oxford and knows what he’s talking about. But I’ll contribute what I can…my formal background is in the Humanities side…philosophy/english lit, etc…

    >>>>>

    Shaun – Neat. Thanks for letting me know about your book! Brian Green taught me the word “notwithstanding” because he used it a zillion times! Where did you hear about “The Quantum World” by Kenneth Ford?

    I find out about books, usually, via recommendations by other authors. For instance, the last 9 or so books that I have read were listed in the appendix of “Coming to Our Senses” by Jon Kabat-Zinn. The books were

    1) A Brief History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson,
    2) Fermat’s Enigma by Simon Singh,
    3) The Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram,
    4) The Elegant Universe by Brian Green,
    5) Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain by Sharon Begely,
    6) My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte-Taylor
    7) The Age of Spiritual Machines by Ray Kurzweil,

    and now

    8) Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm.

    I enjoy reading a series of books recommended by a single author. In that way I get a real sense of coherence through the volumes. Kabat-Zinn didn’t actually recommended books (5) and (6); rather, people associated with Kabat-Zinn recommended these two. One of the people was a psychologist, another a GP – both people teach Buddhist Theravadin style meditation practice.

    >>>>>

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  21. Hi Shaun,

    The pictures/matrix reasoning was tough — how did it compare to the WAIS 3 matrix reasoning sub-test?

    As for an IQ of 220, that’s used to be achievable for children on the old Binet, but now is no longer possible for anyone since no tests go that high…cap out as they do at 160 0r 4 sd’s above the mean. Maybe that’s good news? :-)

    The handful of people who theoretically do have deviation IQ’s that high (6-7 sd’s above the mean, only a handful of few people on planet earth) probably want to achieve something with it and don’t care much about their IQ…but unfortunately for them, they lack an advantage over someone with 125/130 IQ (1.5-2 sds above the mean) — study after study has shown that Spearman’s diminishing returns wipe out the advantage at the right end of the bell curve…sort of like saying that the best basketball players have to be extremely tall, but not necessarily 8 foot giants.

    You mention Da Vinci. Case of special talents + very high level of G…in the upper ranges, what separates a genius from a typical high IQ person is specific Talent (s). It’s never IQ in and of itself; IQ is just a necessary but insufficient condition for achievement; (see Jensen on this).

    There’s some confusion about IQ=genius w/ people online and high IQ societies and so forth…Malcolm Gladwell, in his new book “Outliers” does a very good job in clearing up this confusion.

    For my own interests, I don’t have ambitions to gain an IQ that isn’t mine, higher or lower (definitely not lower!), but I do want to “realize” what I have been given by genetics….I’d like for my functioning aspect of IQ (processing speed and working memory) to be fairly close to my stable IQ (verbal and visual reasoning)…I feel like I’m getting there now, which is a nice feeling.

    And I’d be curious to know what you’re verbal and visual reasoning index scores were on the WAIS…I imagine that they were in the 140’s, given your WMI and PSI brought them down to the mid 130’s. Mybraintrainer will definitely help you w/ processing speed…once you eyeball the exercises, you’ll see why. I used to think processing speed was just secretarial nonsense..and had an intellectual disdain toward it, a typical attitude of the well educated, slow processor ;-) but I was wrong. Having this skill makes a big difference in my life; I’m so much faster with clerical stuff than I was. Makes my life much better…

    As for sub-atomic physics, when I get the chance I’m reading “The Quantum World” by Kenneth Ford. I’ve read (and own) Brian Greene’s “The Elegant Universe” — very good book. .I’m way out of my depths with physics, just a fairly new side interest, though I do find it fascinating… I’d say that Martin is really the one to get engaged in a discussion given he majored in it at Oxford and knows what he’s talking about. But I’ll contribute what I can…my formal background is in the Humanities side…philosophy/english lit, etc…

    Reply
  22. Hi there Will…

    Thanks for the tip on mybraintrainer.com. That’s a site that I am going to take a look at in the next week or so. Love it! Processing speed was a relative weakness of mine on the WAIS results too. 220 IQ here we come ; )

    By the way Will, you mentioned your interested in Quantum Theory. So am I. Already I have read a) The Search for Schrodinger’s Cat, and b) The Elegant Universe. The next book on my list is Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm. I am picking it up from the library today.

    If you start reading it as well, then I anticipate that we could enjoy some dialogue about it online.

    Warm regardless,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  23. Hi there Will!

    It’s nice to hear from you again. Thanks for being open about your GIQTest results. It seems you and I are similar in that we are both quite open!

    Holy cow, those picture questions on the GIQTest are tough eh. I found the last one on the test to be particularly challenging. I had some guesses about what the pattern might be, but no real certainty. I don’t even know for sure what other picture questions I missed out on. Super tough! ;)

    This is funny because it’s a long shot. But unlike Martin I have rarely been accused of being an optimist (quite the opposite actually). So, here it goes. One of my sustaining goals (goals that gives me energy) is to develop an IQ of 220. That’s what Da Vinci apparently had. It obviously an long-term goal :)

    While realistic thinking recognizes that we don’t know how things will turn out. By staying open to the possibility of positive results (e.g. a 220 IQ as a 50th birthday present!), we’ll be more hopeful, and more likely to achieve a positive outcome (e.g. a 220 IQ!). So to quite Martin, “Here’s to the next 50 sessions.”

    Haven’t you always wanted to be able to handwrite with the left and right hand simultaneously in different languages? I know I have ;)

    Warm regards Will…
    Shaun.

    Reply
  24. “My guess is that your scores do reflect what you would score on the WAIS if you were to retake it.”

    I should rephrase “do” to “might” and “reflect” to “approximate” — so as not to sound so definitive. As Shaun pointed out, the GIQ is a pretty rough proxy and apparently a lot less thorough of an assessment than the WAIS…still I’d venture to say that a gain in the “functioing” aspects of a WAIS assessment….especially in WM is likely; ergo, higher IQ rating.

    If you (Shaun) or anyone else wants to boost processing speed, I’d recommend mybraintrainer.com as they have great exercises for increasing PS (though imo their WM stuff isn’t nearly as good as the BFP)….all this does translate into better real life functioning, not just IQ testi takingprowess…

    Reply
  25. Erin, well done on finishing your 19 days and with such a high N back score, much higher than after my initial trials (which I did on another version)…I think I got to about 3 back over at cognitive fun after about 20 or so attempts.

    Shaun, good job on the GIQTest and great scores. My guess is that your scores do reflect what you would score on the WAIS if you were to retake it.

    Just for information sake, I’ll post my scores on the GIQtest which I took back in December ’08 at the end of my 1st 19 days of using BFpro…given I’m on some ongoing training track of no definitive time line, I’ll reverse what Shaun did and use this as my “pre” score and will use the WAIS as my post score whenever I take it. I’d be please with a score in a range + or – 5 of this and would be really shocked if it came in at + or -10 of it but stranger things have happened.

    Full scale — 139

    Verbal Scale Score Percentage:99.44% (138)
    Performance Scale Score Percentage: 98.83% (134)

    Picture 17
    Vocabulary 18
    Recall 18
    Relationship 17
    Arithmetiic 19

    Reply
  26. Hey Erin! Thanks for the questions. Here we go…

    Am I thinking more clearly?
    >That is an excellent question. Notwithstanding the extreme subjectivity of any assessment of cognitive clarity, I am will to say that yes I am thinking more clearly.

    Do decisions seem to come easily?
    > That’s an interesting point. Decision making, in my opinion, has a strong relationship to concentration. When a person has difficulty making a decision, my sense is that they also have difficulty with concentration, and that concentration is the root challenge. Perhaps I do experience more conviction in my decision and less doubt.

    Am I able to comprehend and process more efficiently?
    > Hmm. In January I began to study Java computer programming at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. The Java programming, while difficult, is not nearly as tough as I imagined it would be. Also, I seem to be ahead of the class.

    Are you able to focus harder and for longer?
    >My cognitive stamina and force certainly hasn’t decreased since the BFPro Training. That’s a fair statement about all of my cognitive capacities: none have decreased since training. Despite my resistance to making a subjective statement about improvements, it’s fair and realistic to say that my focus has improved.

    In summary, while I don’t know whether or not it’s The Truth that my cognitive capacity has improved, it’s both fair and realistic to say they have improved. At the very least, my working memory had definitely been enhanced, significantly and meaningfully. That I can say for certain.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  27. Hi Shaun

    Thank you so much for that. Congrats on completing 50 days of training and your post IQ tests!

    Online IQ testing has some real drawbacks, but it seems GIQTest does try to give you as accurate of a picture as they can.

    Kudos to you for doing it twice. I imagine that was exhausting in itself, and while you may have been able to improve a bit simply by becoming more familiar with the test structure – the fatigue may have offset that some. (Just a guess on my part and hard to qualify.)

    When I saw your beginning score, I honestly didn’t think there would be too much room for a point increase. I think for someone like you, the real test is going to be how the training affects your daily life. Are you thinking more clearly? Do decisions seem to come easily? Are you processing and comprehending what your read on a higher, more efficient level? Are you able to focus harder for longer periods of time?

    I would also suspect that the training helps with the work you do. As a magician, you have to be accurate, focused and able to process information in a way that most of us will never know. I would be interested to know if the training helps you to learn a new illusion (I’m not sure if that’s the right word) more quickly.

    As for the depression:

    “MEMORY is poor, CONCENTRATION is fleeting, and the simplest of decisions can be overwhelming. Of all the many symptoms of depression, these cognitive impairments often seem to LAST THE LONGEST, and lag the furthest behind initial signs of recovery.”
    (Dr. Randy Paterson, from Your Depression Map, p. 210).

    that is such a true statement. Depression is a devastating disease, and the cognitive issues are an absolute slap in the face. I am so glad to hear that you are recovering well, and I do hope that the Mind Sparke training provides some long term improvement.

    “…my general willingness to plan is something that I am still working on.”

    You and I are so alike in this way. Maybe we can persuade Martin to develop a product for those of us who just can’t seem to commit to a plan.

    Thank you for taking the time to share so much of your trial with us. Having insight into your scores is really a gift to those of us trying to figure out just what improvements we should expect. Stories like yours are also extremely helpful to people who are searching out reviews in order to make the decision of whether or not to buy Brain Fitness Pro.

    I hope you’ll consider checking back in with us from time to time and letting us know how the training is going.

    Congrats again!

    Reply
  28. Hi there Erin, Will, Dave, and Martin:

    It has been fun to dialogue with you on Martin’s Web site. Fun is not an option, it’s vitally important! That’s why we do it.

    About a week ago I promised to test myself using the GIQTest after taking a rest for five days. I did it. Actually, I did it twice. The GIQTest itself is quite arduous. It took about 60 minutes to complete it each time. It includes picture questions, vocabulary questions, recall questions, relationship questions, and arithmetic questions. At times I have frustration filled thoughts and feelings triggered in part by the interface used during the Recall section. There will be more about that later.

    During July 2008 I had a professionally administered WAIS-III done, and scored a FSIQ of 139 (95% confidence interval = 134-142). The report stated that my verbal score came in at 135 (95% CI = 129-139), while my performance score came in at 134 (95% CI = 125-139). My working memory score came in at 121 (95% CI = 113-127), and my processing speed ability came in at 117 (95% CI = 106-124). It’s interesting to look more closely at the working memory score. I did best on the Arithmetic subtest, and scored my relative worst on the Digit Span test (the percentile ratings were 98% and 63% respectively.) That shows my Digit Span was a relative weakness of mine in July of 2008, when the psychologist administered the WAIS-III to me.

    Interestingly, over the last eight years I have spent significant time, effort, and hard earned money seeing a psychologist to recover from clinic depression. That in itself is not a terribly relevant statement. But, what is relevant is that during depression: “MEMORY is poor, CONCENTRATION is fleeting, and the simplest of decisions can be overwhelming. Of all the many symptoms of depression, these cognitive impairments often seem to LAST THE LONGEST, and lag the furthest behind initial signs of recovery.” (Dr. Randy Paterson, from Your Depression Map, p. 210). Emphasis was added by me. This quote may be taken quite seriously because in 2008 Dr Paterson was named Distinguished Practitioner of the Year by the Canadian Psychological Association. He has also been my personal psychologist for the last approximately seven years. I write this because symptom relief from depression has been one of my primary sustaining goals. Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro may have helped me with the final, and often intractable, symptom of cognitive impairment (i.e. concentration, memory, decision making).

    So, in that light let’s see how I did when I took the GIQTest on-line today after 50 training sessions with BFPro. The score of my first GIQTest trial will be first, and my second trial scores will be second. Note that the scores are the exact same for all the sub-tests except for the working memory test. More about that difference later.

    142 then 144 = Full scale intelligence quotient
    99.74% then 99.83% = Full Scale percentile
    99.91% then 99.91% = Verbal Scale percentile
    96.41% then 98.83% = Performance Scale percentile***

    Maximum score on the questions sections is 20.
    17 then 17 = Picture questions
    19 then 19 = Vocabulary questions
    16 then 18 = Recall questions***
    19 then 19 = Relationship questions
    20 then 20 = Arithmetic questions

    Was there a learning effect from repeating the GIQTest? The only area where there was a difference between the first trail of the GIQTest and the second trial of the GIQTest was the Recall questions area. The first time I did the GIQTest I scored 16 out of a possible 20 on the Recall section, while the second time I took the test I scored 18 on the Recall section. A single explaination for this is that the first time I went through the test, I became distracted because of the interface used to test recall. Then, the second time I went through the test, I was more used to the interface (but still became distracted by some features). My own sense is that if I took the test a third time I might be able to score higher still on the recall section. In conclusion, the higher score on the Recall section the second time through the GIQTest might be attributable to increased familiarity with the interface. Further, the higher score on the recall section is reflected in the higher score on the performance section of the GIQ the second time through.

    How does the WAIS score compare the the GIQ score? That is interesting to discuss in connection with BFPro Training. On former WAIS, the Verbal score came in at 135, whereas on the GIQ it came in at ~147. Further, on the WAIS the Performance score came in at 134, whereas on the GIQ it came in at 129 (first) and 134 (second time). This shows that I actually did much better on the Verbal section of the GIQ test that I did on that section in the WAIS! This resonates with what Martin Walker mentioned about being better able to do cross word puzzles after BFPro Training. Next, I scored equivalently on the Performance section of the GIQ as I did on the WAIS. This might be explained by the significantly higher level of thoroughness on the WAIS; for instance, the WAIS includes processing speed as well as manual manipulation of blocks.

    What is most interesting the me is the difference in my Recall scores and the similarity in my Arithmetic scores between the WAIS and the GIQTest. It is quite hard to tell whether I had an improvement or not in the Recall section of these tests. The GIQ reported that the average score of all test takers in the Recall section is 10 out of 20; unfortunately, the GIQ does not report the standard deviation. This makes it tough to determine the percentile rating of my own performance, and thus makes it hard to compare my GIQ Recall performance with my WAIS Recall performance (recall my WAIS performance was in the 63rd percentile). Notwithstanding this difficulty, a percentile score of 63% on the forward and backward digit span with the WAIS seems to be lower than the raw scores of 16/20 and 18/20 for the forward and backward digit span with the GIQ. While this is far from scientific, I posit that my digit span DID increase from the BFPro Training. Why do I think this?

    If we were to magically convert my scores of 16/20 (first) and 18/20 (second time) on the GIQ Recall questions into percentile scores rather than raw scores, my own sense is that the resulting percentiles would both be higher than the 63rd percentile that I scored on the WAIS. This is based on the knowledge that the average GIQ Recall question score is 10/20. If (and this is a big if) the standard deviation for the GIQ Recall question was a whooping six points, then my score of 16/20 would put me into the 84th percentile. My own sense is that a standard deviation of six points and a mean of ten would be highly unlikely. But I am not a statistician. Did I improve my working memory? Probably, but we don’t know for sure.

    That about exhausts the dialogue and discussion that I am willing to make of the improvement in IQ test scoring from 50 sessions of BFPro Training. In spite of the difficulty comparing the WAIS results with the GIQ results, a relatively conservative statement is that I at least seem to be moving in the right direction. If this discussion is at all confusing, then I take full responsibility for that, because while my general thinking ability is high, my general willingness to plan is something that I am still working on. The result may have been a loose structure to this dialogue.

    Is the BFPro Training worth it? My own sense is yes…

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    >>>

    P.S. This is a quote from the GIQTest Web site…

    “If you are a member of Mensa and/or have taken a clinically proctored IQ test (WAIS, Stanford-Binet, etc) you can get your score/report for no charge (once we verify your info). Send your name, GIQTest ID, proctored IQ exam score, and contact info for the party that administered the exam here. Thanks again to everyone who helped norm this test.”

    Send this information to research@giqtest.com

    >>>

    Reply
  29. Hi, Erin.

    Good for you. Well done. Nice to finish on an upswing.

    I’ll have the programmers check your copy of the software. Fireworks and a marching band come standard, so I don’t know what happened there…

    Today I was working on the “science” section of the User Guide for the Junior version of the program (which is coming along very nicely). The wealth of research tying working-memory to academic success is incredible. I feel privileged to be able to offer this training, and I’m very grateful for your interest.

    Martin

    Reply
  30. Martin – Thanks! It’s definitely been an experience. I must say I was a little disappointed that I didn’t see on screen fireworks and a marching band when I completed that last block. :-) I guess I’ll be adding that to my future version wish list.

    Shaun – Thank you and congrats to you! I hope your post tests go well and I’m anxious to see how you do.

    Reply
  31. Congratulations Erin. Getting through those 19 days is hard work, and you did it!

    As noted before, today is the day that I am going to do a post-test after 50 days of training. As per Martin’s suggestion, I took five days of rest before doing the post-test.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  32. Almost there, Erin.

    After your final session I recommend waiting a few days before you take the post-test. This will give your brain time to consolidate its new capacity.

    Congratulations on completing 19 days of training under the glare of the public eye.

    Martin

    Reply
  33. Shaun

    “My wife and I thought that another visual stimulus might be useful, and we thought that the color of the squares would be a doable candidate. That would make the first stimulus a consonant (b, g, p, k…), the second stimulus the location of the square (top right, bottom left…), and the third stimulus the color of the square (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet).”

    That sounds painful. :-) It would be interesting to see if adding the third stimulus would actually show an increase in intelligence. The smells could get fun!

    Reply
  34. [...] n-backing in a day or so…  but for now, you can go and read Erin’s experiences over at Brain Training 101. She’s nearly through her 19 days, and is seeing pretty remarkable results.   (While [...]

    Reply
  35. Erin Writes:

    “Shaun I was just thinking that switching to digits (once I get better at this) would be a good challenge. (Actually I was thinking it would be quite evil as I’d have to balance the visual steps back with the numbers and I could see myself interchanging them.)”

    Shaun replies:

    My own sense is that you make a good point: switching to digits would add the challenge of keeping those digits from the count back as well. As a result, my sense is that switching to digits might be less useful than some other variations.

    My wife and I have talked about how to make the BFPro as triple n-back task rather than a double n-back tasks. Choosing the third stimuli to attend to would be the tough decision. Would we prefer tactile, aural, visual, olfactory, a flavor?

    The difficulties of a tactile, olfactory, or taste stimuli to follow are significant. How could we make it so that the computer, for instance, touches us while we play the game. The same challenge would be present with taste and smell stimuli. That leave choices for additional stimuli at aural or visual.

    My wife and I thought that another visual stimulus might be useful, and we thought that the color of the squares would be a doable candidate. That would make the first stimulus a consonant (b, g, p, k…), the second stimulus the location of the square (top right, bottom left…), and the third stimulus the color of the square (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet).

    A triple n-back task could prove quite the challenge! I suppose that this is a challenge to Martin Walker. He is the person who sells Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro. It might be a relatively easy feature to program into the next version of the BFPro Training software.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  36. Shaun I was just thinking that switching to digits (once I get better at this) would be a good challenge. (Actually I was thinking it would be quite evil as I’d have to balance the visual steps back with the numbers and I could see myself interchanging them.)

    Martin Good to know. I remember reading a blog post back when I was first researching Mind Sparke – the author had finished the 19 days and was scoring in the mid to high 2s. He mentioned that he suffered from ADD and noticed a marked improvement in his ability to focus.

    I would imagine that no matter what level you end up on, just training on the task for the 19 days is going to increase focus and attention.

    I also wondered about the IQ thing. I would think the higher the beginning IQ score the less room there is for a point increase.

    Richien Hey! I do give it a good 30-35 minutes a day, and I will throughout the 19 days. There was one day so far where I thought I just wasn’t going to get it done. You may actually have that 30 minutes, but you may not have the mental energy to do it.

    On his site, Martin mentions that it’s OK to take a day or two off if your schedule requires it.

    What I’m looking forward to is doing it just once to twice a week max to maintain and continue improvement. I look at it like this – it’s less than 3 weeks that I really have to buckle down and get to work. If I experience the gains that others are, it will be so worth it to me.

    I have some lengthy notes. Should be an interesting review.

    Reply
  37. This sounds like a fine, fun product. If I were on vacation for a couple of months in the islands, I might attempt it.

    I cannot imagine having the time to do what is necessary. I am interested, however, to hear what you think about it in the end.

    Reply
  38. Yes, we’ve been having a similar discussion on the training blog — the training benefits for many people might simply be that they’re higher functioning on a day-to-day basis, without ever needing to score higher on a test.

    I’d also like to respond openly to a question I received through e-mail yesterday. I was asked whether the training works for everyone, since many of the commenters seem to be Mensa members.

    The original research paper made a point of the fact that the training was just as effective in absolute terms and more effective in percentage terms for those who scored lower on the pre-test. I’ve also found that customers derive benefits from the software regardless of whether they test well and regardless of how they would rate themselves academically. The training can be tough to grasp at first, but everyone gets it after a few tries.

    In the words of Robert (58) “Your product is great. I am not as smart as some of the people on the blog, but what matters is that I am constantly improving with the occasional step back.”

    Martin

    Reply
  39. Hey Martin!

    “(What I’ve noticed myself is that I am quicker to monitor and intervene to prevent my distractions.)”

    Yeah, that’s the thing – I actually notice when I’m starting to drift off and I’m able to re-focus and get back to the task in front of me. It’s been a very productive week.

    I’m all for the benefit as the increase in IQ score isn’t important to me. I can see how someone taking an upcoming exam like the SAT, CPA exam, Realtor’s license etc. would be looking for that edge.

    I’m actually looking for better, quicker decision making, increased concentration and the ability to process the research I do more efficiently. I’m crossing my fingers.

    Reply
  40. Hello, Erin.

    I’ve been stopping by to keep up-to-date on your progress. You’re clearly working hard to stay focused on the training as your scores are rising nicely. The occasional dip is entirely normal.

    I also wanted to comment on your point about your to-do list. Customers have mentioned this to me. I’m interested that you picked up on it, and it seemed to be quite a noticeable change.

    (What I’ve noticed myself is that I am quicker to monitor and intervene to prevent my distractions.)

    It points to the fact that although the researchers designed the task to train working-memory with a view to measuring transfer to fluid intelligence, there are other benefits to the training, too, such as training mindful focus and low level multi-tasking, i.e., dealing with different kinds of information simultaneously. (High-level multi-tasking, trying to do several things at once, is something that can be very disadvantageous to learning and isn’t something I’d recommend…)

    Martin

    Reply
  41. Hi there Erin:

    The cognitivefun Web site has several types of span tests. These include both aural and visual span tests that use either consonants or digits. The site provides a useful metric for n-back training progress, because n-back training has been shown to improve working memory.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  42. Shaun – 2 to 3 times a week seems manageable. I’d like to do 1-2 times max. I think I could actually stick to that.

    Tori – get on it!

    Will – Welcome. This quote:

    “I’ve completed two sessions (38 blocks) and I hover around the high 4’s on a good block and hope to hit 5 back…I’m taking a break before ramping up again.”

    made me want to jump into bed and hide under the covers. Then I read this part:

    “I should note that I played a version of the game over at http://www.cognitivefun before buying the MFP —”

    and was able to slowly lift my head back up. :-) Hovering in the high 4’s is awesome. Makes my 2.5 look so bad right now.

    Thanks for the heads up on cognitivefun.com. I am going to head over and take a look around.

    “I have scored all over the map on internet tests; yet the best I’ve taken is giqtest.com ”

    Good to know. I am looking at taking a couple of them at the end to give me a little more reliable score. But you’re right, the web is not the best place for testing.

    Thanks for the compliment and I hope you come back!

    Reply
  43. Hi Erin,

    Good luck on your training with the dual n back.

    Give it time and you will be amazed at how much you will improve.

    I’ve completed two sessions (38 blocks) and I hover around the high 4’s on a good block and hope to hit 5 back…I’m taking a break before ramping up again.

    The dual n back I find not as addictive as Tetris is, say, but it seems once you get used to playing it on a regular basis, you will feel like something in your day is missing…it is truly a rigorous exercise. I play over at mybraintrainer.com too; the exercises there are as nautilus machines for specific muscles. The dual N back seems more general in what it trains than anything else out there on the market as far brain fitness goes.

    I should note that I played a version of the game over at http://www.cognitivefun before buying the MFP — cogfun has some other cognitive tasks there that I play once in a while as well as a good discussion board.

    I’ve stopped playing their version of the dual n back because it uses german letters and imo not nearly as clean as MFP version. I would recommend playing the PASAT at cognivefun, though, as well as other tasks that are not games but version of actual clinical tasks…

    So all this is to say, is that I had a leg up on training over there and I started at a fairly high N level even before starting MFP. However, when I first tried to play the dual n back at cogfun I felt I would never get the hang of it, let alone master 2 back
    …so it’s very tough in the beginning for all.

    The pre/post IQ thing is tricky, as I’ve remarked to Shaun on the blog. Like most people on the worldwideweb, I have scored all over the map on internet tests; yet the best I’ve taken is giqtest.com and although it’s not as good as a real test, it supposedly will land someone w/in 4% of a WAIS score (assuming someone is honest in taking it and doesn’t cheat, which is possible given that there’s a verbal component). The good thing is it does have a matrix subtest and a digit recall.

    Nice site and look forward to seeing your progress on the dual n back.

    -Will

    Reply
  44. Wow… Martin has a 6.5? And Shaun is up to 5.2?

    I’m with Erin, I can’t even imagine it yet, but I’m still trying to get the hang of it… Looks like we’ve got our work cut out for us… Go Erin, Go Me… Go Erin, Go Me.

    Ok, enough with the cheerleading, back to the N=Backing.

    Reply
  45. Hi there Erin:

    Thanks for the compliment on the results. It’s tough work to get those results, but it’s worth it.

    At this stage, I am doing the training about two to three times a week. Sometimes it’s a bit more, sometimes it’s a bit less.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun.

    Reply
  46. Hi Bill! Yeah, I actually feel like I’m in boot camp for my brain. I exercise my body on a regular basis, and I think exercising my brain is just as important. You should do it with us! :-)

    Shaun, I saw your results over there – avg n-back of 5.25! Impressive. Seeing that you’re on session 37, are you doing the program once or twice a week now?

    And as for the IQ tests, absolutely agreed. While not a true substitute for a real evaluation, they are good for getting a quick baseline. I hope you’ll come back and update with future results.

    Reply
  47. Hi there Erin:

    I am a user of Brain Fitness Pro. So far I have completed 37 sessions. It is neat that you are publishing your progress, thoughts, and feelings online. Thanks!

    Also, I appreciate that you put up that list of the top five IQ tests online. That is nice because I have been looking for more reputable online IQ tests. Notwithstanding the lack of validity of these tests, they do provide some idea of progress over time.

    Warm regards,
    Shaun Luttin

    P.S. You can see the blogging of my results and progress in the training over 37 days, and beyond, over at the Mind Sparke Blog: http://mindsparkebrainfitnesspro.com/brain-training-blog/

    P.P.S. I second what you mentioned about Martin. He does indeed have a passion for the product. Further, his customer service is second to none. I feel as if he has become a friend of mine. And he is also very responsive to suggestions.

    Reply
  48. Tori!! Yes, this is the perfect time – after the holiday slush. It will be interesting to see more than one test run.

    I had a peek over at Martin’s blog and his average n-back is 6.5. I can’t even imagine getting to that point but am going to try.

    As for the IQ test, you can try any of these five.

    Online tests aren’t going to replace a professional evaluation but they can still give you a good baseline.

    Reply
  49. Ok, I’m in, Erin… (and hi, Martin!)

    I eagerly downloaded MindSparke right before the holidays, then delayed using it because of the holidays. Then I got distracted, and then my brain was too taxed already, and then the dog barked and…. well… I’ve run out of excuses. Hopefully MindSparke will help with some of these attention issues ;)

    So I’m firing up a new profile, and will go through this along with you.

    One question… can you send me the link for the IQ test you took? I’ve not found one online that I trusted, and I’d love to have a before/after comparison.

    Tori Deaux´s last blog post..Brain Fitness Awareness: Adventures with Airborne

    Reply

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