The Aresan Clan is published four times a week (Tue, Wed, Fri, Sun). You can see what's been written so far collected here. All posts will be posted under the Aresan Clan label. For summaries of the events so far, visit here. See my previous serial Vampire Wares collected here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dual n-back training

Dual N-Back training has been shown to improve fluid intelligence. N-back training is a memory game where they basically keep feeding you info, for example, they show you a succession of spatial position (or the number of a certain object or a tone) and you have to recall what position you saw n number of steps ago. For example, you could have 2-back training, in which you're given a 3x3 grid. For the first step you're shown a shape in the top-left, then a shape in the bottom-center, then a shape in the right and you have to remember the position you saw two steps before (top-left, in this case) then they show you left and you have to again remember the one two steps before (bottom-center, this time) and then they show you top-center and you again have to remember the one two before (right), and so on. You can increase the number of steps back so that you have to recall 3 back, 4 back, even up to 10 back. Dual n-back training means that you're doing two different memory tasks at once. For example, as at this online app, you simultaneously are tested on spatial and auditory memory.

What it does is train your working memory, which is the memory you have to retain and use information. It's the using part that's most important, since orking memory is not just short-term memory, but usable memory. Fluid intelligence is your ability to solve novel problems, use logic and reasoning, and recognize patterns. Improving working improves fluid intelligence because your brain is able to use more information to reason with and think through a problem or recognize a patter. In short, you're building your conclusions on a wider base of knowledge.

They also found that [dual n-back] training made children less likely to be fooled by tempting, but incorrect, information.
"Psychologically, training made them more conservative," Jonides said.
I don't think "conservative" is the best word here. I'd say the better word would be "skeptical" or "incredulous." In other words, children are more reluctant to jump to conclusions the broader a base of working memory they're using.

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