i3Mindware - N-Back Techniques?

BrianHKerrBrianHKerr Quantified Biohacker
I was curious how many people are doing N-Back training, and of those, how are you doing it? By this I mean, how are you thinking as you do it. I can tune out and press buttons and I end up in the N-3 range, however I can focus on pictures and remembering where the blocks where and what was said, by repeating them in my head and do it like that. Which is the proper method?
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Comments

  • Brian,



    I find the more focused approach gets me a higher score. I actually move my head slightly to "face" the block that just flashed while repeating the letter (actually, sub-vocalizing), which i think gives me an easier time "embodying" the pattern. I'm not sure that strategy will be effective beyond n-5 or n-6 though (haven't progressed there yet).



    Here's a twist that I've incorporated: i actually use my emwave while practicing dual n-back training. My theory is that i don't just want to have better brain performance - I want to stay centered while improving my performance. (I don't necessarily stay in high coherence with each turn, but i make sure i get myself back to high coherence before clicking "next.") The result that i got surprised me: i had one session where i scored slightly lower, then i picked right back up where i left off the next session, then started making progress at a faster rate. So there's some empirical proof that tension isn't helping me perform. Subjectively, i also feel a lot better when i finish a session!
  • I've almost reached N=8 in 50 something sessions. What works for me at N=4 and above is to partition the sequence in two and use some visualization. Say if it's N=6 I'll imagine two sequences of N=3. I imagine the first 3 squares making a trail on the screen of one color and the other 3 making another trail of another color. For the sounds I try to associate them with acronyms. But at higher levels I find the acronyms technique too confusing and go mostly by instinct for the sound.



    An interesting point is that if I consciously repeat the sequence on my head at higher levels I tend to forget the sequence. So its important to learn to rely on the visualization and on your instincts. Its also important to recover quickly if you miss the sequence.



    I was improving my average N level at a linear pace up to around level 5-6 at 30something sessions. Now I'm stuck at a ceiling close to N=8 but hoping that the neuroplasticity will kick-in in a couple of weeks.
  • Adam, i haven't ventured into neurofeedback yet - just using the emwave2 to monitor heart rate variability. (There lots of posts about the emwave on the blog). It's a fairly simple device, but in my opinion it provides a nice boost to quality of life.
  • Good insight Captain Hammer; i'll give those hacks a try.
  • Are there any advantages that anyone has noticed that the i3 Mindware software has over the free, open-source Brain Workshop?



    Thanks,

    Andrew
  • edited May 2012


    I've almost reached N=8 in 50 something sessions.[...]

    An interesting point is that if I consciously repeat the sequence on my head at higher levels I tend to forget the sequence. So its important to learn to rely on the visualization and on your instincts. Its also important to recover quickly if you miss the sequence.



    I was improving my average N level at a linear pace up to around level 5-6 at 30something sessions. Now I'm stuck at a ceiling close to N=8 but hoping that the neuroplasticity will kick-in in a couple of weeks.




    My gosh. N=8? That's inspiring. Your talk about "instinct" echoes my experience after a couple days. I just posted this on Andrew Clark's page about I3 Mindware. I would love to hear more people's experiences with this interesting piece of software:



    Two days in to the training and I have done three sessions since I saw somewhere, perhaps the I3Mindware website, that you can do a session in the morning and one in the evening. My working memory capacity jumped from a steady 2.3 in the first two sessions to a 3 in the third. It's hard to know what is a practice-effect, whatever that means, and what is a deeper effect. I find 3-back quite challenging - it feels often like I am going with a gut feeling, yet I am right at a higher percentage than expected.
  • edited May 2012
    'zingbo' wrote:


    [...]

    Here's a twist that I've incorporated: i actually use my emwave while practicing dual n-back training. My theory is that i don't just want to have better brain performance - I want to stay centered while improving my performance. (I don't necessarily stay in high coherence with each turn, but i make sure i get myself back to high coherence before clicking "next.") The result that i got surprised me: i had one session where i scored slightly lower, then i picked right back up where i left off the next session, then started making progress at a faster rate. So there's some empirical proof that tension isn't helping me perform. Subjectively, i also feel a lot better when i finish a session!




    Zingbo, interesting mindhacking combination. I already find N=3 to be somewhat stressful. I might try integrating the Emwave2, which I own. At what level difficulty do you use it in this I3 Mindware combination? I would have to use a maximum of medium to avoid too long of a session. It often takes me a minute to get into green coherence on hard. Thanks for posting this technique!



    ADDED: And I forgot whether the Bulletproof Exec or the make of I3 Mindware provided this link recently, but in this Psychology Today article, the writer (Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman) discusses neuroticism and conscientious as impacting the experience of n-back training. Zingbo made me think about this article because Dr. Kaufman reported on how neuroticism was associated with reduced performance on the dual n-back, possibly because they were overwhelmed by the stimuli. Perhaps using the Emwave2 would help all of us handle the stress better and therefore receive more benefit from the training.

    <http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/beautiful-minds/201203/personality-influences-cognitive-training&gt;


  • Zingbo,



    Are you doing neurofeedback stuff to record brain waves during training or something?



    That's really cool if so. Haven't used the software but looking at giving it a try. If so, what kind of neurofeedback devices are you using?



    Cheers,



    Adam




    Adam, I'm using the emwave 2 to keep in coherence. I also find using a binaural beats app on my smartphone effective at keeping me in a calm, focused state while using n' back (obviously without the feedback loop of the emwave).
  • Anyone ever combine CES with a 40hz gamma wave and n-back training? There was a point when I used the free dnb software, where I could avg 4-5 while also riding an exercise bike. I was sitting at 50-55% max heart rate and dnb training. I need to combine the use of my emwave with dnb training, sounds like an excellent idea.
  • 'That wrote:


    Anyone ever combine CES with a 40hz gamma wave and n-back training? There was a point when I used the free dnb software, where I could avg 4-5 while also riding an exercise bike. I was sitting at 50-55% max heart rate and dnb training. I need to combine the use of my emwave with dnb training, sounds like an excellent idea.




    What is dnb software?
  • 'cogrick2' wrote:


    What is dnb software?


    Ah sorry, was short for dual n back software. I was referring to the free one here. http://brainworkshop.sourceforge.net/
  • I've found that I perform best on the Dual-N-Back exercises by making sure I get the initial sequence, then trying to pick up the next sequence once the 1st one gets near the end. For example, on Dual 6 Back I'll make sure I get the first 6 that come out, then just focus on those 6 and ignore the new spaces and letters that come up. So I'll have the 6 in my head, then the remaining 5 from that sequence, then 4, then 3 etc. Once I get to the spot where there are about 3 left, I'll pick up the next sequence while still remembering the last 2, 1 etc....if that makes sense. Doing it this way means I only miss a few blocks/letters and am able to really stay with a sequence. It's the picking up of new blocks/letters that seems to get me off track. Also, visualizing the pattern of the squares with lines connecting them and sounding out the letter pattern helps, plus seeing them in groups of 2 and 4. I got up to 6.75 after 10 trials this way and am at 13 trials now just about on 7 back for my current overall score
  • I admire your progress, Aaron. I am on my fourth profile (four x 20 sessions - and thinking that you are on your 13th profile(trial)) and still hitting 4.5-back. I see that the best session in my first profile was just under 5-back. There are complications in describing my progress such as a profile being in a non-native language and the latest couple profiles including only 10 rounds per session instead of the default 20 rounds.



    Aaron, can you say more about your progress over 13 trials?
  • I've done 3 sessions dual n-back with my highest being 3-back. Wow, it is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I really struggle with 3-back. I can't imagine getting to 8-back, lol. I'm going to keep working on it, though.



    Thanks to everyone for sharing your tips for doing the higher levels. Should come in handy, eventually.



    Cheers,

    Skippy
    [font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]BilliardsBiohacker.com - [/font][font=trebuchet ms,helvetica,sans-serif]Follow my biohacking projects and listen to my podcast, as I attempt to improve
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  • 'Skippy' wrote:


    I've done 3 sessions dual n-back with my highest being 3-back. Wow, it is a lot more challenging than I thought it would be. I really struggle with 3-back. I can't imagine getting to 8-back, lol. I'm going to keep working on it, though.



    Thanks to everyone for sharing your tips for doing the higher levels. Should come in handy, eventually.



    Cheers,

    Skippy




    Hi Skippy. I'd like to hear about your continued progress. I was stuck at 2-3 back (closer to 3 at the end) for five sessions and then leaped up to 4-back on the sixth.
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