Improving Fluid Intelligence [Dual N-Back]
Improving Fluid Intelligence
SUPERHUMAN SCORE: 8.35
Written by: Ben Meer | April 10, 2022
Boost your fluid intelligence (reasoning ability) by 40% with Dual N-Back, a scientifically proven brain training game.
A System For
Improving Fluid Intelligence
The world needs fewer video games like Halo and more games like Dual N-Back (that enhance your performance IRL).
After all, what’s cooler than…
- Recalling essential details of a convo with a loved one
- Remembering the name of a colleague
- Giving an effortless presentation (where the words just flow)
In other words: what’s cooler than being good at life? Dual N-Back is a running leap toward that goal.
Now, for the science-backed proof:
“In 2008, a group of scientists decided to focus on boosting working memory, a part of short-term memory,” writes Dave Asprey, Founder of Bulletproof (and author of Game Changers). “They asked people to practice a simple two-minute test called the Dual N-Back to improve their working memory. After five weeks of practicing for half an hour a day, the people’s fluid intelligence increased on average by 40 percent. That was an incredible finding.”
INTRODUCING DUAL N-BACK TRAINING
Dual N-Back (for iOS) and Brain N-Back (for Android) are *free* mobile brain training apps that improve fluid intelligence.
So, what exactly is fluid intelligence? It’s the ability to learn and synthesize new information. Think radically enhanced verbal fluency, listening skills, and reading recall.
Sidenote: This is my first non-physical product review. I’ll continue to feature cool gear, but I’m also excited to curate game-changing apps (some of which cost zero dollars). You’re welcome.
In every edition of All Systems Go, I assess the featured product across four superhuman dimensions: impact, setup, maintenance, and aesthetics.
Unlike your typical product review, I focus on factors that influence personal growth. Get to know the evaluation system.
The mind is your most prized possession. Why? The answer is simple: Quite literally, the functioning of your mind has cascading effects on every thought, decision, and action you make.
As it turns out, you can improve the functioning of your mind. There are two types of general intelligence:
- Crystallized intelligence relates to your prior education and experience (accumulation of knowledge).
- Fluid intelligence is defined as “reasoning ability, and the ability to generate, transform, and manipulate different types of novel information in real-time.” (Source)
Whereas crystallized intelligence is like a computer’s hard drive that stores existing knowledge, fluid intelligence is comparable to a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) that determines how quickly tasks can be completed. Think of it as accessing information from the hard drive. The speed of the CPU is often measured in gigahertz (GHz).
Training with Dual N-Back is like upgrading your brain’s CPU, boosting its processing speed up to a whole ‘nother level.
To understand the game/rules, watch this short how-to video.
Asprey offers some additional tips for getting started:
- Do it for at least twenty days, but forty is best.
- Do it at least five days a week, when you’re not tired.
- You may get stuck for a couple of weeks, but do it anyway.
- Do not subvocalize (mutter to yourself) when you’re training so that you’re only activating the right side of your brain.
- Push yourself to failure every time—move up a level even if you’re only at 70 to 80 percent at an existing level.
In case you’re wondering, my personal best is Level 4. (I’ve found Level 5 to be harder to penetrate than a plastic package of scissors.)
Update: Dual N-Back for iOS recently started charging for Level 5 and above. It’s $0.99 per month or $7.99 for the year.
I have good and bad news.
First, the bad. Improving your working memory (up to 40%) comes at no small price—not literally (the app is free) but emotionally. You’ll be relentlessly wrong and occasionally right. But, like training dribbling in basketball, if you’re NOT dribbling off your foot, you’re NOT pushing yourself hard enough to improve.
Now, the good. The effects of training for one month are long-lasting. I returned to the game six months later and felt like I hadn’t skipped a beat. Asprey recalls this experience, too.
Here, I’ll talk about Dual N-Back for iOS because that’s what I use.
I love the minimalist interface (see intro image).
Also, the profile tab contains useful details: a performance dashboard, game level & duration controls, how-to resources, etc.
It’s earned 4.7/5 stars (with 391 ratings) in the App Store. Accurate.
BRINGING IT HOME
If you get past level 4, let me know on Twitter. I’ll want to brag about you.
All systems go,
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