What I've come to realize is that memorizing a deck of cards trains so much more than your memory. The way I memorize is to associate every card with an object and its corresponding action, and memorizing the deck of cards is a matter of creating a sequence of events that corresponds to the sequence of cards. So by memorizing a deck of cards I'm actually training different parts of my mind: recalling the item that is associated with the card, coming up with creative stories on the fly when I see a card, and holding the story in my mind as I add 52 objects into the story one by one.
Each of these steps was painfully difficult in the beginning, but now I'm starting to see the fruits of my training. I almost never misplace my things (keys, wallet, etc) anymore. Mind blocks like, "what was the company's name? I used to know it...", happens less frequently and I can recollect facts much faster. Most importantly though, I have seen a dramatic improvement in the speed I learn and understand things. I'm not 100% sure, but I think that the rapid association of cards to objects and creatively creating a story have somehow improved my ability to comprehend and grasp new knowledge.
I whole heartedly believe that the brain is a muscle that can be strengthened through exercise.
It is also a minimal first defense at would-be over-the-shoulder snoopers who see who I am messaging.
...at the start, two or four lines a day. At the end? Two or four lines a day. Nothing improved. But I did memorize the whole goddamned thing.
See brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which will be elevated after many exercise, be them of mental origin or just walking.
Lifting weights also counts.
Just because they share some biological commonalties (of course they do! How could it be otherwise?) doesn't make them meaningfully the same thing, any more than them both having lots of mitochondria does.
In some ways this works to my advantage, in general an application or system I am working on can fit mostly in what I am actively thinking of at a given time.. the down side is I will then lose track of time, and side thoughts... it will be 7-8-9 at night, and I'll stop because I need to use the restroom, realize how late it is and that I'm hungry.
On the flip side, I rarely misplace things, I have a photographic memory, not eidetic... In general if I write something and see it at the same time, I'll remember.. if I only see it, it depends, and if I only hear it, I'll likely forget.
I do most of the things mentioned in the article regularly though... I've managed to cope pretty well with my advantages and disadvantages.
The patterns are what draw me. How I remember it changes slightly (as I forget old patterns) over time but today: I go by groups of 5, 100 digits. There's the 8-2-2-8 near the beginning (w/ 2^3=8, & reversed), the 5-4-6-3 right after. The 5-7-5-7 (w/ 7 49, then 7, 81, 64) comes next. The permutations of 02668, the 34s, etc.
The thing is: the numbers are random(ish), but the patterns are there. The mind can find patterns in anything, you just have to cultivate it.
Do you think card-deck-memory could pull off any magic tricks? Pi isn't really a crowd pleaser.. :|
This piqued my interest. I find myself forgetting simple things all the time and it's very unsettling given that I'm relatively young. Like JakeSc, I too would be interested in learning more about your experience and any resources that you could possibly share.
Memrise helped me get me off my feet, and then I created my own objects/actions for each card because I had no idea who half of those people are.
that follows up on recent cognitive training research. The research conclusions are becoming more and more nuanced, and thus are better and better guides to practical things you can do for your own intelligence boosting.
Here I am wasting time/procrastinating. There certain days, that no matter what I do, consistent concentration is impossible.
I think the source of my motivation problem is having the feeling that what I do 'Does Not Matter.' Some months I can't shake this feeling and get absolutely nothing done. Other months I feel like I can take over the world - and end up making the progress of a normal programmer.
I "want" to implement my ideas, but there's not enough feedback or incentive to "make" me do it. There's also too many options. I have 100 ideas, which should I pick? If I haven't been successful with any ideas in the past, what's the point in dedicating myself to this specific one? Does it even matter? No one noticed last week when I wasted all my time (when not at my part-time job)... why would anyone care this week?
I made a chrome extension that helps me stay on task when motivated... but what I actually need is software that can help build my motivation. Anyone know of something?
Since your motivation doesn't seem to be intristic (if it was, you would've just found time and energy for at least some progress), you're most likely treating is a vehicle for something else: improving programming skills, padding resume, possibly basing a startup on the idea. In such case, you need to make yourself do things you're not really interested in doing (it's not always a bad thing, there's a ton of such things in everyone's life such as doing taxes etc.). Lots of motivation books on that subject exist, but from what I've noticed, it all boils down to imagining the fruits of your labor when it's done and also imagining negative consequences of not doing it.
For programming/startup ideas procrastination, my theory is that the sub-conscious part of the brain has already done the calculations for you, and the expected value just isn't that great - ie. you're likely to work hard for months and the most likely outcome is going to be a better job (ie. more work, probably also unengaging...). So maybe, it's just your subconscious telling you you need an idea which engages you before you start executing :)
When my boss asked me to temporarily pick up some slack and new responsibilities, I immediately surged into action and got some praise. I was feeling productive, so I built a few things when I got home even after doing 10 hour days.
If someone asks me to build something for them, it gets a fair amount of attention right now (mostly because I'm trying to break into programming/webdev), and occupies my thoughts. When I have no demands, I'm pretty meh on projects unless I think I have a good idea.
I simply need an external demand to operate productively. I think I would end up ignoring any productivity programs.
Monday: follow crazy ideas, absorb everything, novelty hunting. Tuesday - Friday: focus.
We might be able to develop one by using non-invasive brain stimulation: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/06/110615123647.ht....
Interesting though that there is no data with regards to how much time people spend on HN and whether it results in success or not. Or just adds to entertainment, knowledge, or enjoyment.
Even anecdotal although I do know there are some outliers like tpatcek and patio11 that have benefited. But we don't know how that compares to time that they spent.
(Although I also attacked the lack of attention span problem by doing totally seeminly dumb tasks such as reading a book backwards which makes no sense and really forces you to re-focus all the time. From a few minutes I was able to get up to 10, and later 15 minutes per time without huge mental wandering. Same goes for meditation, from minutes to tens of minutes with ease in a matter of weeks.)
Here is a bit more background on it: http://www.samharris.org/blog/item/how-to-meditate
There is plenty of scientifically backed studies and documents out there when it comes to mindfulness If you are a skeptic though, as am I, be wary of the masses of esoterically/religiously contaminated resources on the web, when it comes to meditation.
Meditation consists of two main "directions": Concentration practice and contemplation practices. Most schools of meditation has one of these as their main focus, but contemplation practice includes certain levels of concentration practice as pre-requisite, either explicitly (separate ways to train your concentration), or indirectly as part of practising a form of contemplative meditation.
Concentration practice is generally what you might think of if you think of meditation as emptying your mind, repeating mantras or similar.
Try this simple exercise:
Set an alarm for five minutes.
Sit comfortably. Floor is traditional, but not at all necessary; a position that is comfortable enough that physical discomfort does not distract you too much is much more important. Half close your eyes (you can meditate with your eyes fully open, or fully closed, or anything in between - it is a matter of preference, but until you know consider that fully open means your eyes will be dry and there will be more distraction, and fully closed increases your chance of falling asleep).
Then breathe in and out through your nostrils. Count 1, 2, 1, 2, 1,2 as you breathe in and out.
Every time you notice that you have stopped counting, try to estimate (quickly) how long you have been "off track", and start again, until the alarm goes off.
Congratulations, you have just meditated. If you can make the whole five minutes, try it again but without counting, just noticing the breath.
Most first timers/beginners are lucky if they manage 30 seconds consecutively without going off track, often for minutes at a time. If you manage the full five minutes without finding yourself thinking about something completely difference, your concentration skills are already well above average. With practice, you can keep attention like that for hours. And it does translate to being able to keep focus in other situations.
If you want to try more, "Mindfulness in Plain English" is a good introduction: http://www.urbandharma.org/udharma4/mpe.html ; the html version is free. Gil Fronsdals "Introduction to Meditation" series of recordings are also great, free, and includes guided meditations that are quite useful to beginners: http://www.audiodharma.org/series/1/talk/1762/
These focus on vipassana - insight meditation or mindfulness. This is a contemplation practice, but the introductions above spend a substantial part on the basic concentration practice of meditating on the breath, which is a common concentration practice in many schools of meditation.
The "mindfulness" part is sort of in the gaps: Rather than trying to hold an "iron grip" on your mind to focus on the breath, the purpose is closer to "catching you thinking" (or feeling, or sensing, etc.) and paying attention to the sensations an quality of what arises in you, while you try not to get pulled away from paying attention to the breath, and then rather than forcing the thought away, to let it "fade" by "simply" (it is by no means simple) not follow the thought with another.
Both of these introductions are of buddhist origins, though if it matters to you one of the things that appealed greatly to me about them is that they are careful to keep the material mostly secular (there's some brief mentions of buddhist faith, but they are explanatory rather than essential toe the meditation practice).
When I started meditation I thought it would give me some sort of mental superpowers (Tibetan Buddhist IMO are quick to sell you on those). However in my experience the benefit is more like developing resilience against all the drama and bullshit that life or your own mind throws at you. A potential downside is that I notice more clearly how other around me are swept up into unnecessary frustration or anger. Of course it would be overstating to say I'm a competent meditator, but on some days I consider meditation the most valuable thing I do for myself.
I'm motivated now to try the guided meditation your linked above. Thanks!
Spoiler alert - you're supposed to discover by direct experience that your real self is neither a homunculus looking out through your eyes, nor is it coterminous with your body, and this direct experience that your true self is everything that is, is intended to lead to compassion for other beings.
You can of course not change the odds of rolling a 6 if you roll one dice. But you can influence how often the dice roll for you, and thereby increase your odds of rolling a six.
In high school, his IQ was determined to be 125—high, but "merely respectable" according to biographer James Gleick.
Of course high IQ/mental capability/intelligence means nothing if it isn't put to use, so step first is to start doing stuff which matters and learning from it.
As a parent of a PDDNOS child this put a lot of noise in my mind. When my son got his diagnostics, the psychologist couldn't finish the IQ test because he couldn't focus on the questions. Now three years later, all people who know the case agreed that he is a brilliant boy. So was that a huge increase on his IQ? or Was just a noisy measure of the IQ at the beginning?
In such matters, keep in mind Goodhart's Law: "When a measure becomes a target, it ceases to be a good measure."
In the domain of IQ, we might observe a very high correlation between higher-IQ and certain desirable results, like a longer/healthier life, lower rates of victimization, higher incomes, and so forth. And we might have a strong case that the test is, at least at the outset, measuring some sort of "general intelligence", and that there is a causal link from "general intelligence" to the other correlated beneficial outcomes.
But, then you start aiming to increase "general intelligence", and your only measure is the IQ test, so your target for evaluating all interventions is the IQ score. Now you are quite likely finding interventions that only raise the IQ score, and perhaps skip any "general intelligence" benefits. Even if your IQ score goes up, you might not get the other benefits. Meanwhile, others still researching the correlation/causation questions may see the original correlations start to weaken, or the case that IQ measures "general intelligence" weaken.
And in fact the originally-valid ideas are weakening! Motivated action around that target has started to thwart whatever signal it once offered.
The problem is universal - in regulation, in education, in investment, in semantics. It's why a lot of high-performing organizations keep their true 'measures' secret... to slow their dilution through motivated optimizations.
> I don't really know what IQ is supposed to measure
Neither does anyone else.
not necessarily, on an official test, I scored 140 (which I'd consider high), and I don't do any puzzles or similar at all.
that said, obviously an IQ test is not perfect, but, I'd argue a high score is a good indication that a person is relatively intelligent. Middle scores and below can be attributed to a lot of other things (distractions, etc etc), but, the high score is still indicative of your brains capabilities. If that made sense?
My web app:
A few of the researchers in the area have encouraged me to clean this up for publication, which would be nice.
(Not that the rest of OP is much better than the n-back material. 'I worked with autistic kids and I can cherrypick a few examples of improvement!' As if he had never heard of regression to the mean or selection effects.)
This is very damaging to the case that dual n-back increases IQ. Not only do the
better studies find a drastically smaller effect, they are not sufficiently
powered to find such a small effect at all, even aggregated in a meta-analysis,
with a power of ~11%, which is dismal indeed when compared to the usual
benchmark of 80%, and leads to worries that even that is too high an estimate
and that the active control studies are aberrant somehow in being subject to a
winner’s curse or subject to other biases. (Because most studies used convenient
passive control groups and the passive effect size is 3x larger, they in
aggregate are very well-powered: 94%; however, we already know how they are
skewed upwards, so we don’t care if we can detect a biased effect or not.) In
particular, Boot et al 2013 argues that active control groups do not suffice to
identify the true causal effect because the subjects in the active control group
can still have different expectations than the experimental group, and the
group’ differing awareness & expectations can cause differing performance on
tests; they suggest recording expectancies (somewhat similar to Redick et al
2013), checking for a dose-response relationship (see the following section for
whether dose-response exists for dual n-back/IQ), and using different
experimental designs which actively manipulate subject expectations to identify
how much effects are inflated by remaining placebo/expectancy effects.
...in other words, live a stationary life, do the same things you always did in the same way with the same people.
I don't know if any research exists to support this but it seems pretty likely, to me, that this will make one less intelligent.
To take the gym metaphor you used, some people are naturally athletic and some are not. A non-athletic person can work out to improve their fitness level, and a naturally athletic person can eat pizza and smoke a pack of cigarettes every day. In not too much time at all they will have traded places as far as their athletic ability goes.
Sure the 1.6m can beat him. (exercise often, learn fighting techniques...) but if they both exercise in the same amount, the difference will remain.
The comparison of going to gym holds perfectly, as anybody can go there and bulk themselves way, way bigger, fitter and more muscular with effort than almost anybody else who doesn't go there. Same is definitely possible with human brain as numerous studies show that after exposure to a new skill, learning it does physical changes to our brain(neuroplasticity) and thus modifies it to work better/more optimally, making it more capable.
The argument there is that - in healthy people - not much can be done to improve intelligence, and speculates on reasons why. The qualification suggests that experience working with autistic children is not relevant to the general population.
That this link has been voted up to the front page and the other hasn't perhaps says more about the optimism of the community than the respective merits of the two positions.
1) Use it or lose it, neurons act just like muscle fiber in this regard. I'd be more interest if someone can prove that deep thought and learning can lower the chances of cognitive disabilities like age-related dementia.
2) If you want to have a high IQ just retake the IQ test until you do. Maybe one day someone will make a test that will indeed measure intellect across a wide range of contexts, including social and abstract thinking.
(the 6 things above: bright light, tDCS, food, exercise, playing music, meditation