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App tip: How to increase intelligence with "N-Back Challenge"

Oliver Herren
Translation: machine translated

Did you know that you can sustainably improve your intelligence with an app? This has been scientifically proven for the "N-Back-Challenge", thanks to researchers at the University of Bern. I've been using the app for a few months.

What does Dual N-back train anyway? Simply put, it's about improving fluid intelligence by training working memory. The working memory in the human brain, so to speak. The second component of intelligence is crystalline intelligence, i.e. data memory, to stay in IT terminology.

By training fluid intelligence, you become better at virtually all cognitive disciplines because you can keep more content present. Be it notes when playing music, longer content in a technical text or programming, or by learning larger blocks of information.

How do you train with "N-Back"?

The app presents you with a sequence of stimuli, specifically a position in a 3x3 grid is displayed and a letter is spoken at the same time. For example, the field at the bottom left lights up and a computer voice says "T" at the same time. As soon as the next combination is either the same field in the grid or the voice says "T" again, you have to confirm this by tapping the "Sound" or "Position" field. And this is the easiest level. For n=2, the task is to remember the field and the spoken letter two steps before. Hence the "N" in "N-Back", which stands for n steps back. "Dual" stands for two stimuli that take place in parallel. Parallel stimuli demand maximum concentration during the test, which exercises your brain's coils.

The methodology was tested by Susanne M. Jaeggi and some colleagues in a study at the University of Bern and the benefits were confirmed.

Die Erkenntnis, dass kognitives Training Gf (= Fluide Intelligenz, Anm. d. Red.) verbessern kann, ist ein bahnbrechendes Ergebnis, da diese Form der Intelligenz als weitgehend unveränderlich galt. Anstatt Gf als unveränderliches Merkmal zu betrachten, liefern unsere Daten den Beweis dafür, dass mit einem geeigneten Training das Potenzial besteht, Gf zu verbessern.
Wissenschaftsjournal «PNAS»

And if it doesn't help after all, I've certainly wasted a silly 20 minutes a day.

How the "N-Back" app works

. There are several apps available in the app stores with a search for "N Back". "N-Back Challenge", unlike many other N-Back apps, is designed to be visually appealing. In addition, the workout feels natural and is motivating. My current status and also my achievements are communicated in a meaningful way. In addition, I am advised during the game of other sensible measures that are beneficial to mental health, such as regular exercise and a healthy diet.

There are not many setting options in "N-Back Challenge", but I found it helpful to change the language to German. In addition, I downloaded more languages on the iPhone so that the letters are spoken understandably and clearly. And I turned on the daily reminder in the drill master variant.

You can add friends for even more momentum. Then you can see who has progressed and how far. For this, detailed statistics are displayed on how you rank against your friends and against the general public. Comparing yourself with your circle of friends can of course increase your motivation, but it is more important not to be demotivated by others' high scores. You know yourself best and can therefore decide whether the comparison motivates you or not. Unfortunately, inviting friends does not work across platforms, but goes via the Apple Game Center or Google Play.

Those who stay tuned every day use the app for free

. Using the app is free - as long as you're disciplined enough. If you take a 20-day challenge and do the exercises every day, you pay nothing. However, part of the deal is that you pay one franc for every day you don't exercise - this is to allow the app's developers to continue caffeine-fuelled work on the app. With weekly training, you have to do twelve sessions a week to not have to put anything in the till. If you like the app but miss a day too often, you can also unlock it forever by buying a pizza for the development crew (8 francs). . The concept is quite funny. The app is ad-free and does not try to sell anything else. Personally, I prefer apps whose costs are transparent and where I pay directly. With the mechanic of paying for lack of discipline, the developer has found an interesting twist. By the way, I was not disciplined enough and soon bought a pizza.

If you open this link on your mobile phone, you will be taken directly to the appropriate app for your Android or Apple smartphone. You also get the equivalent of a coffee as a bonus. You can also download the app right here: for iOS here, and for Android here.

Have fun training your grey cells.

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Cool: Creating interfaces between the real world and the world of pure information. Not cool: Driving by car to the mall to shop. My life happens online, the information age is where I feel at home.

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