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Can you increase your IQ? The experiment results

November 7, 2012

I recently read an article by bio-hacker and investor Andrew Clark that stated he had raised his IQ more than 18 points using a program based on new research covered by the WSJ  and NYT called “dual N back” training.  Doing 20 minutes a day of this kind of training increases IQ scores 10-20 points in 20 days.  That level of increase is a full standard deviation.  In non-statistical terms, it’s a life changing increase in intelligence.  It’s going from average high school graduate (105) to college graduate (115), or if you’re an average college graduate  (115) to average doctor (130).  10-15 points opens different doors.

This is a big deal since I — and all the scientific research I had read about a decade ago since reading the Bell Curve — believed that after early childhood IQ is substantially fixed.

I read more about the product it was based on and its money back guarantee   After you buy the product, they give you one of two reputable IQ tests to take.  After establishing your baseline IQ, you then do the program for 20 days, and take the other IQ test.  If your increase is less than 10 points, you get your money back.

I found another Dutch bio-hacker who did the same thing but only got 8 points of growth (which is enormous) and requested his money back.  If I get 8 points, that is still nearly life changing, and I get my money back. 🙂

Based on many standardized tests, my IQ hasn’t moved my whole life and this is a relatively low risk, low time, low cost, medium energy commitment test to see if I can change that.

As a side note:  I took both IQ tests because I was skeptical of their reliability.  I was within a single percentile point.  Incredibly accurate.

Going Forward:  So I’ve decided to see how well I do with this program.  Regardless of how well I do (including epic fail and no intelligence increase), I’ll post the results.

Update #1:  At session 3, noticed some tentative patterns having started emerging.  There is a significant difference between doing it when I’m tired and doing it when I just wake up from sleep/nap.  I perform much better right after waking.  Also noticed crazy dreams if it is the last thing I do before sleep.

Update #2: Two other associates have started the training.  We are starting at 3 different IQ points spaced approximately 10 points apart.  Both associates have also noticed dreams increase significantly, consistent with what others have noted on increased REM sleep.  Dreams are both weird and more intense.

Update #3: At session 8.  Already noticing that I can recall addresses and numbers related to my work in a way I couldn’t before.  Experimenting with breaking 20 sessions into 2 sessions of 10.  My scores are rising quickly since although it’s too early to correlate the two.

Update #4:  Half-way point, session 10.  Mental clarity and memory has improved noticeably.   Have hit a ceiling that I can’t seem to break.  Still, satisfying that what was once an impossible level I am now consistently at 85%.

Update #5:  At session 11.5.  Blew through that ceiling and now the impossible level is the new normal.  It’s interesting to push the brain so hard.  It’s clearly not something that I have to do on a day-to-day basis playing or working.  I love it honestly.  It’s like exercise.  In the beginning, it’s painful and frustrating as hell.  I’m finding as I get used to it I like it more … the growth is very satisfying.  The perks that come with the growth are very satisfying, too.  What I really learned what how much my sharpness can be affected by sleep, diet, etc.  When you’re only running at 30% mental throttle during the day, you don’t notice what happens to your brain when you go from running 100% down to 50%, because you’re only running 30%.  When you push to 100%, you instantly can tell going down to even 80%.  50% seems devastating.  Very useful as a self-awareness mechanism as well IMO.

Update #6:  Finished session 20.  Hit a level I couldn’t imagine when I started.  Overall, my mental clarity and recall has improved so drastically that if this was a pill I could pay for, I’d happily pay $200-$300 a month.  This isn’t like buying a pill though, it’s like buying gym membership and working with a trainer that some days, you’re not sure you like.  You get to work your butt off, with the most proven brain training method known, but, still, it’s seriously hard work.  And like taking care of your body, completely worth it.  At 20 minutes a day for 20 days, and at $45, it’s probably one of the highest return on investments for time and money I’ve found for the benefits.  I highly recommend.

Update #7/Final update: I have continued training, reducing training by half to 10 minutes a day.  Level keeps improving, half as fast, but consistently, breaking to new highs.

Resources:
Original research, including criticism summary.  Example of someone who gained almost nothing but impressive working memory increase.

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