Thursday, January 3, 2013

Learn Faster by Doing Something Else

Crystalised intelligence (Gc) is one of the componenets of our General Intelligence (G). It representes our accumulated knowledge and expereince, and so tends to gradually increase over our lifetime

One of the key limiting factors on how much Gc you can acquire is how fast you learn. Suprisingly and flying in the face of common sense, it seems the fastest way to learn something new isn't to try and learn it!

If you want to learn how to skate, take a tennis ball and chase it around a parking lot while having skates strapped to your feet. Don't spend more than a couple of minutes trying to consciously learn how to stand, roll forward, brake, or fall. Just chase the ball. 

The key here is that by doing something OTHER than learning how to skate, something that requires skating. Your medulla oblongata will do the job of absorbing the new skill far faster if it's allowed to do it without micromanagement from your conscious mind.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Closer Look at Research on Increasing IQ with tDCS

Research from the Centre for the Mind at the University of Sydney has shown that transcranial direct current stimulation can be used to improve visual memory and perceptual skills.
A project led by Richard Chi, a Phd student, recruited 36 participants to examine whether tDCS would improve  their ability to tell the difference between complex patterns they had previously been shown and similar but new patterns they were seeing for this first time.
The participants were first shown twelve images that contained various shapes in different amounts, arrangements, sizes and colours. They then were shown a second set of five images, two of which were the same as in the original set of twelve, one which was very similar but different, and two which were entirely new. The participants job was to pick out which of the images they had seen before in the original set of 12 and which were new.
All 36 participants first completed this task without any tDCS, then were split up into 3 groups. The first group received tDCS to boost activity in their right anterior temporal lobe  and inhibits activity on the right. The second group received the opposite, with the activity in the left anterior temporal lobe being increased. The third group were a control and received no elkectrical stimulation of the brain.
In their new groups the participants repeated the pattern spotting task. While the second and third groups produced nearly identical scores to the first time they did the task, those is the group receiving tDCS to increase activity in the right anterior temporal lobes doubled their scores!
This study added to the growing body of research which suggests that targeted tDCS can increase wide variety of cognitive functions and abilities.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

How to Increase Your IQ - Product Review

Think Fast: How to Increase Your IQ is a 72 page guide to increasing intelligence.

What the Guide Contains
The key element of this guide is a series of cognitive training exercises, each comes with a step-by-step walkthrough of the technique and an explanation of what the technique is doing at a neurological level. There is also a 'Prove It' section accompanying each chapter with details of the research studies whcih show the techniques really do work.

The guide also includes 3 suggested schedules, showing how to most effectively combine the different techniques.

What the Guide Claims
By using the exercises and schedules conaitned in the guide you can increase yoru IQ by up to 30 points within 10 weeks.

How it Does This
All of the exercises are based on techniques used in neuroscience research. The techniques take advantage of the neuroplasticity of the human brain, by stimulating different regions to improve connections between them. This has the effect of improving a range of basic mental capabilities suhc as processing speed, working memeory and fluid intelligence. These improvement combine together to give the remakrable increase in general intelligence.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to increase Your IQ – Understand the Principles (Part 1)

1.) Keep your Brain Challenges Fresh

Like every muscle in your body, if you want it to get stronger you have to work it out! Anything you do regularly enough that it becomes easy isn’t improving your brain any more than reaching for the TV remote builds up your muscles in your arm.

So if you’re doing Sudoku puzzles every day to train your mind but can breeze through them in 5 minutes flat, you aren’t pushing your brain. Once you’ve mastered a skill to the point of being comfortable it isn’t giving your brain any further benefit.  So find something difficult and work at it until you’ve become proficient it, and then move on and find something new.

2.) Make Experiencing New Things Part of Your Life

You don’t have to look for huge dramatic experiences to make a difference, the tiniest change will stimulate the brain to lay down new neural circuits by forming new connections.

Walk a different way to work, click your fingers on your other hand, try a food you’ve never had before, go to a new bar, watch a sport you don’t really understand the rules to.

If you do the same things over and over your brain knows where they fit into your life and so will simply use the same circuits and relationships it has already created. However every time you have a new experience your brain will have to put in effort to categorize it and build in fresh associations in your mind.

The more connections and association your mind can draw on the greater its problem solving ability. The more your brain gets used to having to work hard, the more it adapts and the greater raw processing power it gains.

Friday, December 14, 2012

How to Increase IQ with tDCS

Transcranial Direct Current Stimulation (often abbreviated to tDCS) is a technique which was originally designed as a treatment to help rehabilitate patients who had suffereed a severe brain injury or stroke.

Subsequent research showed that when the tehcnique was applied to healthy participants it could be used to enhance a variety of mental functions. 

The technique works by positioning two electrodes on the scalp, and then passing a low current between them. This current stimulates activity within the brain region surrounded by the electrodes. 

This stimulation changes brain function is either by affecting the neuron’s resting membrane potential and changing the rate of spontaneous cell firing. Due to the brains natural neurplasticity these changes can be made lasting providing there is a sufficient duration and strength of current.

Depending on the region of the brain stimulated researchers have shown tDCS can improve problem solving, mathematical ability, linguistics, attention/focus or memory.

Monday, December 10, 2012

How to Increase IQ with the N-back Exercise

Today I am looking at the N-back exercises, one of the cognitive training exercises from Think Fast: How to Increase IQ. The complete guide to increasing your IQ is available at How to Increase IQ

The N-back Research

In a key research paper published in 2008 by Jaeggi, Buschkuehl, Jonides and Perrig the N-back cognitive training exercises was shown to improve fluid intelligence by increasing the capacity of participants working memory.

Two important features of these improvements were:

1.) They imporvements were transferrable 
This means that not only did the exercise improve the particpants capabilities to perform the N-back training exercise but that these improvements transfered to other unrelated tests of working memory and fluid intelligence. This is one of the key aspects for real world improvements in IQ that most 'Brain Training Games' are missing.

2.) The improvements were 'dose dependent'
Simply put this means the more the participants trained with the N-back exercise the more their working memory capacity and fluid intelligence increased.

How does the N-back exercise work?

In the simplest version of the N-back exercise you are presented with a series of letters one after another, and you must identify when the current letter is identical to one that was already presented a certain number of items ago in the series. This number is the ‘N’ in N-back So let’s say you were presented with this series below, and were looking for matches that were 2-back:
Now this might not look too tricky, so to make the exercise more challenging the researchers used the 'Dual' version of the technique. This involves keeping track of two different series simultaneously (usually one series of letters and another series of locations in a 3x3 grid).

If you manage to succesfully identify the correct letters and locations that appear '2-back' at least 80% of the time, then you move up to the next level '3-back'. By continually adjusting the difficulty of the exercise you make sure you are always working at the limit of your ability.

And thats the N-back exrecise in a nutshell!