Personal Productivity Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for people wanting to improve their personal productivity. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

Dual N Back They say that the dual-nback trains your working memory and has a corresponding effect on your fluid intelligence. Then it was in the news recently that this doesnt work.

Now I some how never managed to do this for more than 15 minutes anytime. I feel so sleepy that I quit. I never managed to do it for more than 2 consecutive days anytime.

It would inspire me and may be help me if someone told me their positive personal experience with this or quote a legitimate scientific paper or something which testifies that this actually helps !! I would be able to pursue this with more doginess !

From my personal experience I would say that doing a faster N back makes me read stuff faster and it also makes me commit a lot of mistakes while reading. I feel that my error rate as well as my rate of doing things has increased as if I am sugar high.

share|improve this question

I've been keeping in touch with DNB developments over the years and there seems to have been a lot of conflicting research studies (wrt IQ gains, specifically the fluid intelligence component). One of the people I follow is Gwern, a member of the brain workship Google group, who's managed to gather a ton of information to help draw a "conclusion" for the lay person. See the FAQ at, and a meta-analysis here

The section that titles "Does it really work?" suggests it does help WM, but IQ gains are more suspect.

"There are quite a few studies showing significant increases in working memory: WM is something that can be trained. See for example “Changes in cortical activity after training of working memory - a single-subject analysis.” or “Increased prefrontal and parietal activity after training of working memory”. There are a few studies showing that DNB training enhances Gf; see the support section. There is also a study showing that WM training (not DNB) enhances Gc65."

The meta-analysis suggests there is a medium effect, equivalent to about 2.7 IQ points.

"I meta-analyze the >19 studies which measure IQ after an n-back intervention, confirming that there is a net gain of medium effect size."

"Well, the effect size from the active-control-group studies as of today is d=0.18, and that's in standard deviations of the raw scores, which on a normalized IQ scale with standard deviations of 15, would then be (I think) 15 * 0.18 = +2.7 IQ points."

It is still debated how much improving working memory can improve IQ, although most accounts say the two are highly correlated. What's more certain is that playing DNB probably improves working memory. Lots of attention has been given towards reducing ADHD symptoms, presumably those lacking in working memory.

See Paul King's answer on relationship between WM and IQ.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.