I’m going to keep it light today, and maybe go off on a tangent about something I’ve been reading about lately—fluid intelligence.
This latest obsession all started with the realization that my memory absolutely sucks. It’s beyond terrible. In short, it’s becoming a problem.
So I took to the Amazon App marketplace to see about memory games. I had read previously that these little training tools can be great for improving your memory. Okay—cool, I’ll give it a shot. I downloaded this free Memory Training app. (It’s titled “My Personal Memory Trainer” app on the loading screen if you want to go digging for it.)
Only a few games into it I get to this super challenging, but super fun, thing called an N-back test. Basically, it flips through cards with letters (A, B, C…) on them and you have to press a button whenever the most recent card has the same letter as another card “N” flips back. So, if in three flips you see A, B, A, then on the second A in a 2-back test you should click the button. This makes way more sense if you’ve ever taken an n-back test.
There’s a blog over at the ScientificAmerican, which, despite reading vaguely like a sales letter, does say a lot about the efficacy of n-back tests in improving memory. But it doesn’t stop just there, in fact, studies have shown that memory tests such as the N-back test can actually improve your IQ. Do I believe it? I’m not so sure—it’s certainly on my “to study” list. Studies I’ve seen show as much as one full standard deviation in IQ improvement after only a few weeks of “N-back training.” Some say 8-12 points. That’s a lot, really.
The N-back test supposedly improves your “fluid intelligence.” Fluid intelligence is your ability to reason and apply logic to new situations. The opposite, so-called “crystalized intelligence,” is your ability to use what you’ve learned. Basically, fluid intelligence allows you to spot patterns, trends, and respond to new problems, whereas “crystalized intelligence” more closely relates to memorizing a multiplication table.
Do I feel as though playing with the N-back test for a week has improved my fluid intelligence? Meh, I’m not that introspective.
Do I feel that my memory has improved tremendously? Yes.
You know, it’s almost incredible. And honestly, it may have to do with the fact that I had nowhere to go but up. Even still, my memory today is at least twice as good as it was last week—I’ve gone from .01 of the memory of an average person to .02! Rock on.
Maybe I’m just crazy and making stuff up. That’s certainly possible, although I have no reason to lie. And, besides, it’s about time we realize that placebos are the most economical cure to most anything. Placebos have cured far more diseases, problems, etc. than any other drug—okay, I’m getting off-topic.
If you’d like to take a really quick N-back test please be my guest. I found this as I was Googling for one: click here for the n-back test. Note that you don’t actually have to sign up to view your results (I nearly threw a fit when I thought it was one of those stupid advertisements). Instead, you can just click to view your results anonymously.
Does anyone have any input on the N-back test? Know anything about the research? Have you tried the N-back test before?
Photo by: Luke B