Archive for the ‘Mind Sparke Brain Fitness Pro’ Category

Brain Training Report – Zach

Friday, July 12th, 2013

Stage: 3

Session number: 18

Average n-back: 9.35

I’m starting to think I’m not doing this right…

I’ve had a lot of mind chatter doing this training since I picked up the course–now doing it consistently again after taking about a month off from mid-May to mid-June. About Session 17 the thoughts became so distracting that I hit the stop button in the middle of my session and basically just yelled “Enough!!!” When I sat back down my performance went to another level.

I’m telling everybody this for two reasons:
1. I know this is working because I’ve seen the improvement, particularly from being stuck between stages 6 and 7 to skyrocketing to sessions as high as 11. More importantly I’m appreciating the discipline I have to have to quiet my mind, though I obviously still have lapses.

2. The downside is that I don’t know if I’m cheating myself or not.

I hope I’m not spoiling it for everyone else when I say this (not that I’m the smartest person here by any measure), but my strategies have basically involved chunking the squares into groups or patterns, and only clicking on the squares I know are n-positions back from my recall. Otherwise, I don’t answer. Am I cheating myself or is this the idea behind the process? To force our brains to adapt however they best can to meet the challenge at hand?

I’d like to believe I’m falling into the latter category, but who knows. Any thoughts and feedback would be greatly appreciated.

MindSparke Brain Training Software

MindSparke Brain Fitness Software

MindSparke Working Memory Training

This post was submitted by Zach.

Not seeing results: Anyone here didn’t see beenfits for a while, but did eventually?

Friday, June 7th, 2013

Any late-bloomers out there? If you didn’t see any benefits with initial training ( by “initial” i mean completing a full 19 day program, at least), but stuck with it and eventually saw some?

Training not working for me thus far. I finished the 19 sessions, took a five day break, and just did another sessions. I was training in a single -n mode, and also doing practice exercises in dual-mode in the final five days (levels 1 and 2 only as not to go against recommendation). I did not notice any improvement in my daily life in terms of memory, concentration, or processing speed. I reached N4.7 (3rd level) at the end of my 19 days. My N went up slightly to 4.9 today, but even that is not very impressive since I had higher averages at 2 previous sessions. Furthermore, I took a makeshift iq test ( I used the logical reasoning section from an LSAT book. In my opinion, it’s a much more reliable test of fluid intelligence than the internet iq tests, and has more real-life correlation than plugging through a bunch of visual patterns) and scored the same as I did a few years ago.

It would be encouraging to see if others have been in this situation. I feel like I might just end up quitting if I continue not seeing results

I want to give it one more shot and plan to train for 19 more days in dual-mode. I will even try to do two sessions a day. If that doesn’t work, than that’s that.

Mindfulness as Brain Training

Monday, April 1st, 2013
mindfulness for brain training


A team from UC Santa Barbara has shown that just two weeks of mindfulness training can significantly improve reading comprehension, working memory capacity, and focus.

Published in Psychological Science and led by Michael Mrazek, the study, “Mindfulness Training Improves Working Memory Capacity and GRE Performance While Reducing Mind Wandering” surprised the researchers with its clear-cut results: “What surprised me the most was actually the clarity of the results,” said Mrazek, “We found reduced mind-wandering in every way we measured it.”

Mindfulness is another term for full conscious engagement or presence of mind on the task at hand. When the mind wanders our performance on tasks requiring our attention declines.

Mrazek and his colleagues randomly assigned undergraduate students to either a mindfulness class or a class on nutrition. Before the classes started the students took a test of verbal reasoning from the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) and a working memory capacity (WMC) test. The researchers also measured mind-wandering during the tests.

After the classes the students re-took the tests.  Those who had taken the mindfulness class scored significantly better on both the verbal GRE test and the working memory capacity test. Their mind-wandering during testing had also diminished. For those who had taken the nutrition class, the researchers measured no such improvement.

“This is the most complete and rigorous demonstration that mindfulness can reduce mind-wandering, one of the clearest demonstrations that mindfulness can improve working memory and reading, and the first study to tie all this together to show that mind-wandering mediates the improvements in performance,” said Mrazek.

Brain Training with MindSparke’s Brain Fitness Pro is already a great mindfulness booster.  Here are three more that would be wonderful adjuncts to the training:

1. RAIN.

To be used when a strong feeling comes up:

R – recognize what you’re feeling.

A – acknowledge it.

I – investigate its various aspects, and

N – non-identify; “it’s not me, it’s something I’m feeling.”

2. STOP.

Give yourself room to breathe when you’re thoughts are racing:

S - Stop what you are doing.

T - Breathe normally and be mindful of your breath entering and leaving your body.

O - Observe your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. Don’t try to keep thoughts or feelings out, just acknowledge them and move on.

P - Proceed by giving yourself you need to feel supported; reach out to someone who can listen, for instance, or deliberately put your current thoughts and feelings into a broader perspective.

3. Walk.

Not an acronym this time. Just a great activity for helping us practice mindfulness.  Rather than walking in a state of distraction, though, focus on the physical and mechanical aspects of the act of walking, your legs and feet moving, your balance shifting, your breath supporting your movements. Likewise you can turn your mindful attention to the world around you.  The sights, sounds, smells and sensations of the places you’re walking through.


MindSparke v3.1

Monday, January 7th, 2013

The Brain Fitness Pro upgrade to version 3.1 adds some exciting new features:

Facebook integration: Connect your training account to your Facebook account through the Account panel and you can login with Facebook and share your training progress and blog posts with your Facebook friends.

Focus Helper: In the training panel you’ll see the “Focus Helper” audio player.  Listen to this background audio while training and it will help you focus.

If you have questions or comments on the upgrade, please let us know.

Martin Walker
CEO, Founder

In Defense of Chunking

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

There has been a good deal of discussion on the brain training blog about the use of strategies to improve training performance.  One such strategy is called “chunking”– replacing a sequence of letters, numbers or grid positions with something representative.  So the letter sequence P, K, G we could remember as the word “package”.  Generally we advise against the use of complex strategies since it reduces the need for the brain to stretch and remember more items.  But at the same time we realize that most people will resort to such strategies from time to time.

Today I read a piece in the Atlantic that proposes the idea that learning to become better “chunkers” could be a valuable brain training activity. The article discusses some of the ideas in a new book by Daniel Bor (“The Ravenous Brain”).  Here is what Bor has to say about chunking:

Although [chunking] can vastly increase the practical limits of working memory, it is not merely a faithful servant of working memory — instead it is the secret master of this online store, and the main purpose of consciousness.


There are three straightforward sides to the chunking process — the search for chunks, the noticing and memorizing of those chunks, and the use of the chunks we’ve already built up. The main purpose of consciousness is to search for and discover these structured chunks of information within working memory, so that they can then be used efficiently and automatically, with minimal further input from consciousness.

Perhaps what most distinguishes us humans from the rest of the animal kingdom is our ravenous desire to find structure in the information we pick up in the world. We cannot help actively searching for patterns — any hook in the data that will aid our performance and understanding. We constantly look for regularities in every facet of our lives, and there are few limits to what we can learn and improve on as we make these discoveries. We also develop strategies to further help us — strategies that themselves are forms of patterns that assist us in spotting other patterns…

These insights help explain both the value of chunking and the advantages of being better chunkers, as well as the value of focus and working memory!

I would still not recommend chunking as a habitual strategy when training with MindSparke.  Although neither would I say that would should avoid it altogether.  It will happen naturally. The great thing about Stage 4 of the training is that it exercises and strengthens our ability to store, pattern and recall pieces of information that we would not normally need to “chunk” in our daily lives (colors and shapes, for instance).  This is fantastic training for the brain.

MindSparke Day 1

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Today, I officially begin my brain fitness program.  After doing a bit of research with pro vs. luminosity, I decided to settle on the pro since it was slightly cheaper and many people claim to see its benefits.

Session 1 and 2 were slightly challenging but relatively straightforward to understand.  As for session 3, it became much more difficult to understand the objective and keep focused on remembering every 2nd interim pattern.  I found myself to be slightly confused and challenged to identify a pattern.  I only achieved a 2.1 on this exercise today.  In combination with the practice and training, this session took me about an hour to complete with only 5% progress.

Session 4 was highly challenging. I had to take a break and come back to it since I spent so much time on 3 and was beginning to get a headache (I guess that means my brain is working?).  I went to work and came back to do a few practices on session 4 (aural and visual separately).  I plan to tackle this part tomorrow.

Let’s hope some sleep will help me connect the circuits a little better.


Brain Training Report – Andrew – Stage 3, Session 5

Tuesday, July 17th, 2012

Stage: 3

Session number: 5

Average n-back: 2.8

This program is really working, I can see that my memory retention for these exercises are slowly improving on a daily basis. During Stage 3 Session 3 I smoked a blunt but my score did not decrease from the previous session, instead it had increased. This software is amazing I especially like using it for 30 minutes and then proceed to RosettaStone right after :)

MindSparke Brain Training Software

This post was submitted by Andrew.

Brain Training Report – Shariff – Stage 2, Session 5

Monday, July 9th, 2012

Stage: 2

Session number: 5

Average n-back: 5

I am really feeling my brain pulsing and feeling so drained! I never knew it could give me a slight headache. I am trying to get as many right in n=5.

MindSparke Brain Training Software

This post was submitted by Shariff.

Brain Training Report – Javi – Stage 1, Session 1

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Stage: 1

Session number: 1

Average n-back: 4.45

I got everything correct for the first 16 rounds or so, then I actually almost physically felt my brain being exercise and worn out, and I got a couple incorrect at N=6. I’m really liking these exercises

MindSparke Brain Fitness Software

This post was submitted by Javier Acevedo.

Brain Training Report – Wesley – Stage 3, Session 2

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Stage: 3

Session number: 2

Average n-back: 2

I’m confused. How come my original BFI is higher but 2 points than my current. My BFI is 272 is that considered low? What is BfI and how does it work? I’m trying to improve my ACT score does this program help?

MindSparke Brain Training Software

This post was submitted by Wesley.