Tickling the Brain, or Cramping It
In June 2010, I installed this software called Brain Workshop. My motivation was overall brain exercise and improvement of memory retention. Brain Workshop is an implementation of the Dual N-Back mental exercise.
The story behind the N-Back theory is as interesting as using Brain Workshop itself. The claim behind N-Back is that it improves short-term memory and fluid intelligence (problem-solving, learning, and pattern recognition).
Upon first use, I wondered if the game would actually improve my memory, as opposed to just me getting better at doing anything with practice. After a few months of use, I am of the conclusion that both aspects apply.
It takes about half a hour for each session. It takes a little longer with the higher levels. They recommend doing it 2 days on, with 1 day off; 4 to 5 times a week. My progress chart shows the improvements I have achieved.
When I do the exercise, I realize if I am sharper or less sharp, and the exercise results confirm my performance assessment. When I first started, I almost quit because I found it hard. I thought it would be impossible for me to do 4-back. Well, I've been doing well at 4-back and even managed to reach 5-back on a couple of occasions (but I find that level VERY HARD).
Coupled with the N-Back system is the notion of IQ tests. There are various IQ tests on the Web. I scored 84 on the IQ test that I took. The average score is 100. The test is done with a time limit for each question, totaling about half an hour. I found the time limit intimidating and rushed. I would prefer to take my time to work out each problem. The questions are incredibly hard, bordering on unenjoyable. It is a good idea to use the IQ test as a measure of improvements brought about by the use of Brain Workshop.