How To Add 2.75 IQ Points Per Hour of Training

By: Dave Asprey

The Wall Street Journal just publicized a scientifically proven technique you can use to increase your IQ. I have been recommending dual N-back exercises in The Bulletproof® Executive coaching program. I not only recommend it to my clients, but I have also been using it myself (since 2009) and I have had excellent results boosting my IQ at least 18 points (I took standardized IQ tests before and after).

From an efficiency perspective, that’s incredible. I gained 2.75 IQ points for every hour of brain training I did.

N-back exercise is simple – a grid of 9 squares is presented on screen:

Every few seconds one of the 8 squares of the grid (center one isn’t used) lights up with a colored box and a letter is spoken aloud. In each session, you are given twenty visual blocks, and twenty auditory letters. Your goal is to press the “L” key when a location (visual) match is presented, or the letter “A” when a spoken (audio) letter match is presented. The “N” value corresponds to the number of presentations you have to think back to in oder to compare the newly presented visual and audio with what occurred “N” turns ago. When your accuracy meets or exceeds eight percent, the software increases the difficulty by raising the value of N by 1. This forces you to remember more information at a time. You start with N = 2, or 2-back. Each session takes about twenty minutes to complete. It doesn’t really matter how high of “N” you reach–as long as you’re challenged, you’re raising your IQ.

Here’s a graph of my N level for my first 20 sessions (total of just 6.5 hours of training):

See how long I was stuck at N = 4? It took my brain a few days to adapt and forge new neural pathways, but once I broke beyond 4, I was immediately able to process far more information–look at the graph skyrocket as my brain adapted to handling more information at once.

The best part about N-back training is that it’s permanent. After the 20 sessions you see above I did no training for a full 8 months to see if I’d forget the skill and have to start over. The results were an astounding OPPOSITE of what I expected, as if my brain had further optimized itself during the 8 months off. Here are my scores for another 14 sessions 8 months after I started the training:

My max N level is currently 9–a level I would not have dreamed of reaching when I was stuck between 3 and 4 for days and days.

I’ve used a Zeo to track my sleep patterns after N-back training to see what my brain was up to the following night. The result? Drastically higher REM sleep percentages, often between 30-40% of sleep–proof enough that the N-back training boosts brain optimization significantly. One night my REM even exceeded light:

So what does a higher IQ get you?

1. Faster problem solving
N-back training teaches your brain to juggle more factors at the same time than it could before. If you’re trying to solve a problem, it’s extremely useful to be able to remember all the factors you know at once. A classic example would be running through look ahead moves in a chess game. If you don’t remember the 2nd and 3rd moves you planned, how can you design a strategy 5 moves ahead? N-back training is the answer.

2. A more insightful synthetic imagination
In Think And Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill talks about two kinds of imagination–synthetic imagination and creative imagination. Synthetic is the one we use the most. It’s when our brains combine existing known information and derive new insights from it, or see new patterns. Creative imagination is a bit different and involves flashes of insight that aren’t necessarily related to what we already know. (More on creative imagination later). I’ve noticed N-back training boosts my synthetic imagination significantly. After N-back training, you’ll be able to solve every day problems and tasks faster and more easily because you’ll “just see the answer,” and your academic or career performance will soar.

3. A better memory
I first noticed the effects when I unconsciously memorized restaurant take-out orders for 10 family members so I could call them in. My family was floored but I didn’t realize why. I thought it was normal until my family members told me they couldn’t do it without writing things down. Chalk it up to dual n-back training!

How do you start?

There’s an open source version of the software called Brain Workshop. I was actually one of the beta testers and found it difficult to use, and the default parameters are not Jaeggi, but it’s free!

You will find that any brain hacking you do is far easier when you’re on the Bulletproof Diet. The Healthy fats boost neurological development and brain mitochondrial function. The Bulletproof Diet along with Bulletproof Coffee is used today by artificial intelligence researchers to keep their brains sharp! While you can develop your mental powers on any diet, we found it was much easier and faster on an optimized diet.

Make IQ Hacking Easy

Make it easier on yourself and start eating more healthy fats and less performance robbing sugars and carbs. Its one of the best things you can do for yourself and it will make IQ hacking far more easier. I could not have upgraded my IQ as much as I did if it wasn’t for Bulletproof Coffee. The healthy fats in Bulletproof Coffee helps feed the energy hog in your head. The brain, by far, consumes the most amount of energy, more than any other organ in the human body, never mind IQ hacking, if your brain is hungry or not getting enough energy, you will find IQ hacking very frustrating.

For more IQ hacking tips check out Step 6: Upgrade Your Brain, Increase Your IQ and learn about all the awesome, cool toys you can use to upgrade your brain as well as supplements you can take (including nootropics), and the best foods for increasing IQ.

That’s it! If you give this a try, please let us know how you do in the comments here, or head to the Bulletproof Forums for community support. We appreciate all the feedback, its what keeps me going and it helps me help you 🙂