Brain Fitness Pro – Beyond 19 Days
Why 19 Days of Working Memory Training?
Susanne Jaeggi and Martin Buschkuehl selected 19 days for the maximum duration of working memory training in their study. Their hypothesis called for a demanding working memory training task, regularly administered for a period long enough to result in measurable changes in fluid intelligence. Jaeggi and Buschkuehl trained four groups — for 8 days, 12 days, 17 days and 19 days. Their results showed steadily rising increases — the more training, the greater the improvement in raw intelligence.
When designing Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro™ it seemed logical to recommend the 19 day period, which was known to result in average increases in fluid intelligence of over 40%, but leave open the option for people to train beyond 19 days, at that time an unknown quantity, by starting afresh with a new training profile.
What happens after 19 days of Training?
After completing 19 days of training, I was so addicted to the training program and so thrilled by the benefits I was getting that I decided to keep going. As Jaeggi and Buschkuehl predicted, my performance on the working memory task kept improving.
Longer breaks between training sessions
Events conspired to keep me from running the training program for six days, between sessions 20 and 21. I was apprehensive that after such a long break my improvements wouldn’t stick and my working memory scores would slip (I’d got up to a mean n-back level of 4.55.
To my complete surprise, my ability to perform the training task took a leap, and my scores jumped correspondingly. My mean n-back level stepped up a whole point (more than six times the average increase during the 19 days of training). I thought it must be a fluke, but this improvement carried over to day 22.
What was happening?
Why scores may keep climbing even when you’re not training
I mentioned the phenomenon to Susanne Jaeggi. Here is what she said:
“this is an effect which is quite common in training literature – the spacing of the training gives the brain the opportunity to consolidate the learnt information (or processes). thus, a break from time to time is a good approach for the training.”
Recommendations for optimal use of Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro™
This gives us a couple of fascinating insights into how we can get the most out of Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro™.
- Be aware that the brain may take a few days to consolidate the effects of the training — if you’re training for an important test, allow for a break of a few days between the end of the training period and the day of the test.
- Jaeggi also shared the following fascinating hypothesis: “we don’t currently know what happens if participants train longer than 4 weeks in terms of training and transfer…. after the initial learning as you did, it could also be efficient enough to use the training as a short ‘booster’ every couple of weeks or so.”
A recommendation well worth trying out.
In September 2008, having taken a forced break from training of one month (kids out of school) I started up again, scoring a mean n of 5.25, not significantly lower than my scores before the break. Three sessions later I scored my highest average ever (5.6).