Team Finds Training Exercise That Boosts Brain Power


Source: John Hopkins University

Summary: Researchers found a brain training method which helps in improving memory and attention and results in more significant changes in brain activity.


Researchers at John Hopkins University found that one of the two brain-training methods used by many scientists in the research is very much better in improving memory and attention. Though this training exercise may not make you smarter but helps you to greatly improve skills which are needed to excel at school and work. These findings even suggest its possible to train the brain as we train other body parts with targeted workouts. These training methods at John Hopkins are not the commercial products sold to the customers but are the tools which scientists rely on to test the brain’s working memory. The study was published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.

Dual-N-back

EEGs taken before and after the training showed that the biggest changes occurred in the brains of the group that trained using the “dual n-back” method. Credit: Kara J. Blacker/JHU

Three groups of participants were assembled and were tested to determine their baseline working memory, attention and intelligence. Everyone got EEG (Electroencephalogram) to measure the brain activity. Then everyone was given a computer task to perform for one month. One group used the leading brain-training exercise, the second group used the other and the third group practiced as a control group. Everyone trained for 5 days a week for 30 minutes. Finally, the researchers found that the group which practiced the main brain-training exercise, “dual-n-back” showed a 30% improvement in their working memory. The other brain-training exercise, “complex span” also showed good results.

Kara J. Blacker, lead author, “People say cognitive training either works or doesn’t work. We showed that it matters what kind of training you’re doing”, “This one task seems to show the most consistent results and the most impact on performance and should be the one we focus on if we’re interested in improving cognition through training.”


More Information: Kara J. Blacker et al, N-back Versus Complex Span Working Memory Training, Journal of Cognitive Enhancement (2017). DOI: 10.1007/s41465-017-0044-1


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