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.
You’ll train for 30 minutes a day for 19 days. The benefits come fast.
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.
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 a free IQ test online 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.
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.
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.
See you tomorrow!
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.