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?

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>;


  • 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
    my competitve pool performance, brain function and overall health.[/font]
  • '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.
  • 'cogrick2' wrote:


    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?




    Cogrick2, I just finished my first profile, so when I wrote that post I was 13 sessions in. It took me a few months because life got a bit in the way, but I maxed out at Dual-10-Back with my average score hovering around 8.5 per session the last few sessions. Challenging stuff! There are a couple of things I've found during the experience that were really interesting.



    1) The hardest was 3 or 4 back. My brain was screaming at me that there was no way i'd be able to do this, then all of the sudden you just see it. After that the progress was fast

    2) It's totally helped my performance and has helped me in many different aspects of my life. I'm a intraday futures trader so fluid intelligence is very important to me. I've noticed an improvement in my results that I can attribute to Dual-N-Back. Then again, i've also gone 100% bulletproof and done daily emwave work so I'm sure all of that helps.

    3) I did some research and I guess my method of playing the game is considered "cheating" in some ways. I'm going to do another session trying to stay with the count the whole time and see what those results are

    4) It took me months to complete the 20 sessions, but I didn't see any falloff if I skipped 2-3 weeks between sessions. I did see my progress stall the last 4-5 sessions when I had the largest spaces in between though

    5) My % of correct visual and audio showed no consistency. They bounced around each session

    6) I noticed that when I was really focused my brain was constantly trying new methods to remember the sequence. Automatically it would just look for solutions
  • 'cogrick2' wrote:


    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.




    Thanks cogrick...My training stalled, recently, but I'm ready to get going again. I'll be sure to keep you posted.

    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
    my competitve pool performance, brain function and overall health.[/font]
  • 'Aaron' wrote:


    Cogrick2, I just finished my first profile, so when I wrote that post I was 13 sessions in. It took me a few months because life got a bit in the way, but I maxed out at Dual-10-Back with my average score hovering around 8.5 per session the last few sessions. Challenging stuff! There are a couple of things I've found during the experience that were really interesting.



    1) The hardest was 3 or 4 back. My brain was screaming at me that there was no way i'd be able to do this, then all of the sudden you just see it. After that the progress was fast

    2) It's totally helped my performance and has helped me in many different aspects of my life. I'm a intraday futures trader so fluid intelligence is very important to me. I've noticed an improvement in my results that I can attribute to Dual-N-Back. Then again, i've also gone 100% bulletproof and done daily emwave work so I'm sure all of that helps.

    3) I did some research and I guess my method of playing the game is considered "cheating" in some ways. I'm going to do another session trying to stay with the count the whole time and see what those results are

    4) It took me months to complete the 20 sessions, but I didn't see any falloff if I skipped 2-3 weeks between sessions. I did see my progress stall the last 4-5 sessions when I had the largest spaces in between though

    5) My % of correct visual and audio showed no consistency. They bounced around each session

    6) I noticed that when I was really focused my brain was constantly trying new methods to remember the sequence. Automatically it would just look for solutions




    This post was just what I needed to hear...THANKS! I think I was kinda giving up on this n-back training, because I was really thinking that it was impossible to get past 3-back. It just seems so hard for my brain to be able to remember these simple patterns. It definitely is one of the most frustrating things I have ever tried to do. I'm surprised that I've taken this "defeatist" attitude...that just isn't like me. I gotta push through this block.



    I'm re-focused now. Thanks for sharing your experience.



    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
    my competitve pool performance, brain function and overall health.[/font]
  • Aaron, great post. The biggest surprise was that your visual and audio % correct showed no consistency. I am consistently outperforming in the audio-dimension, which says to me that my method of recalling by repeating the numeric sequence in my mind is not universal. My plan is to therefore have only visual cues presented in my next profile. I love the customizability of this software. Combined with the detailed performance results, targeted interventions can be conceived.


    'Aaron' wrote:


    [...]

    5) My % of correct visual and audio showed no consistency. They bounced around each session

    [...]
  • Aaron, great post. The biggest surprise was that your visual and audio % correct showed no consistency. I am consistently outperforming in the audio-dimension, which says to me that my method of recalling by repeating the numeric sequence in my mind is not universal. My plan is to therefore have only visual cues presented in my next profile. I love the customizability of this software. Combined with the detailed performance results, targeted interventions can be conceived.


    'Aaron' wrote:


    [...]

    5) My % of correct visual and audio showed no consistency. They bounced around each session

    [...]
  • Hey I've just started using n-back, i have the free software for andriod - how different is it from the i3 mindware software? Would you recommend the investment? I am tracking my progress over 30 days with a test of fluid intelligence before and after if you would like to see my progress:



    bit.ly/T9Dwuj
  • suntouchersuntoucher Uninspired Potential ✭✭
    edited November 2012
    This is an interesting read regarding Dual-N-Back: http://www.gwern.net/DNB%20FAQ



    It seems like the benefits come from actually doing the exercises, rather than progressing and such. The more time you spend, the more you get out of it (shocker).



    I wonder... is there a point to have a technique for this? To be frank, given enough time and practice, this game seems solvable (using visual memory techniques and encoding input). But that would kind of defeat the purpose of it, I think.
  • Hi guys,

    Interesting post from mark ashton-smith's newsletter came out today:



    http://www.iqmindware.com/iq-mindware/training-strategies/



    On topic for this discussion...
    www.optimoz.com.au

    Upgraded products for Aussies AND NOW NZ!!
  • edited December 2012
    I've been wondering the same since I started N-Backing, so I read up on the subject a bit. My conclusion is that there are two main objectives in N-Back strategy.



    The first and foremost is avoiding strategies that build non-transferable, game specific skills instead of stressing your working memory. Mostly, this includes 'chunking', the trick of remembering a string of numbers or locations as a single piece, but other 'expert skills' at N-Back seem possible.



    The second and less important is to use a strategy that helps you stay focused. Improving your score by learning strategies that don't reduce working memory stress is neither useful nor harmful to the overal goal of training working memory, but if they help you stay focused and un-frustrated, they're a good thing. It's also a lot easier to gouge your process by your scores when you're practised with a consistent technique.



    Personally, I repeat the sequence after every round by repeating the sounds out loud while nodding my head in the direction of the squares, being very careful to memorize each consciously and individually rather than as a non-conscious string of information. This approach has set my scores back 20-30% once or twice when my brain was trying to learn a different approach and needed deliberate correcting, but I'm keeping my eyes on the prize - better working memory, and possibly fluid intelligence - rather than the immediate satisfaction of higher scores. I also use manual mode (on Brain Workshop) to keep the time/round high enough to comfortably repeat the whole string of numbers/squares individually, without rushing - again so that there is no doubt in my mind that each is remembered individually.





    I've also concluded that it is important to avoid N-backing on Ampakine nootropics like aniracetam, as these facilitate learning skills with new parts of your brain - usually that is very much a good thing, but the point of N-Back is to stress your working memory, not to get unusually good at N-Back by learning to involve other parts of your brain. What you do want to use are things that increase REM sleep, as well as anything that increases neurotrophic factors, such as ALCAR, noopept, lion's mane, grape seed extract, ashwagandha, uridine as well as a healthy supply of DHA/EPA, - that sort of thing.



    ETA - The article on the post above me hits it right on the head, and explains most of what I said in more detail. The 'Attention jumping' cheat it mentions is exactly what my brain was trying to learn when I had to correct it. Watch out for that as well as chunking. =)
  • What is the difference between "individually" remembering three individual audio/location pairs, or chunking two at a time and remembering six? Most dual n-back programs progress as you improve keeping you in a constant state of struggle. Eventually, your strategy will be overcome by the level of difficulty and it will stress your working memory all the same. Obsessing about counter methodology and the minutia of anti-supplementation seems like wasted energy.
  • edited December 2012
    There's something to that perspective, but I suspect that the more your brain learns how to bypass the limitations on working memory by chunking or attention skipping, the more easily it'll do so at every next level of difficulty you toss at it - quite possibly falling into the habit of learning one way or the other.



    At the very least, learning techniques that delegate working memory tasks to other parts of your brain for N-Back is a waste of energy itself, as well as any (possibly limited) neurotrophic resources that go into it. I'm not saying that people who've gotten into the habit of chunking have ruined the usefulness of N-back for themselves, but why take risks you can avoid with a little conscious attention? Half the benefits from N-Back come from the practise of deliberate focus.



    The minutia of brain building are usually energy well spent.
  • Check out this game:



    http://brainscale.net/complex-working-memory



    It is not as pattern based as n-back and you may find it to be more in line with your philosophy.
  • Looks interesting; I bookmarked it and will probably check it out in detail sometime. Thanks. =)
  • Time to dig up an old thread. So has anyone here purchased or had any experience with I3mindware and there products? Ive been reading through their blog and i am intrigued with the all the different Biohacking techniques that are incorporated into their program. Intermittent fasting, N-Back, Nootropics, Hrv, ect..  


    Im surprised  Mark Ashton Smith hasnt been a guest yet on the podcast he seems pretty bulletproof. 




  •  What you do want to use are things that increase REM sleep, as well as anything that increases neurotrophic factors, such as ALCAR, noopept, lion's mane, grape seed extract, ashwagandha, uridine as well as a healthy supply of DHA/EPA, - that sort of thing.




    So what's good at increasing REM sleep?

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