How To Add 2.75 IQ Points Per Hour of Training

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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 🙂

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By Dave Asprey

  • To measure this process, on an individual basis, we need a good metric before and after. So, what metric would you use before and after that will consistently measure intelligence?

    • Billy Humphrey

      For any IQ test to be valid, it needs to be normed to a wide sample statistically representative of the general population, and for it to be accurate and valid it should be timed and supervised/proctored. If you really want to know your IQ, I recommend taking an actual IQ test such as the Stanford-Binet or Cattell Culture Fair III. Otherwise, you are just taking a brain-teaser quiz, not an IQ test.

      Understand also that practicing solving puzzles makes you improve in the skill of solving puzzles. Maybe that practice improves mental agility, fluid intelligence and working memory, which a proper IQ test measures. Or maybe it just makes you better at brain teasers.

      I am all for bio-hacking and self-experimentation. I’m skeptical of N-back training’s effectiveness at improving the attributes that make up a person’s IQ but I’d be among the first to add it to my routine if the benefits were proven in solid peer-reviewed controlled studies. That said, if you are doing something that is improving your quality of life or performance, that to me is worth as much or more than simply improving my IQ.

      Keep in perspective that your IQ score is only a measure of certain potentialities. It allows for predictions to be made of your performance at certain tasks and how quickly and effectively you can comprehend and synthesize information or solve complex problems. There are some correlations between IQ and profession, income level, etc., but those are correlations not causalities. I’m a member of Mensa and Intertel (high-IQ societies) and trust me we are not all rocket scientists. Persistence, ambition, self-discipline and passion are FAR more important for achieving astounding success than just a high IQ. A high IQ just gives you a boost.

  • Er, sorry. I should have been more specific with my question.

    What is the specific source for the specific IQ test you would use, that allows me to consistently test my IQ multiple times with consistently congruent outcomes for measurement. It’s easy to measure memory lengths, speed, accuracy, et al. But, actual IQ is much more complex.

    I assume you have a test source you like, perhaps a bucket full of unique yet level exams.

  • Andrew Clark

    Hi Jason,

    Here’s the test I used, it’s available online for free:

    The G10 is also supposed to be good but I haven’t taken that one yet:

    Neuroscientist Mark Ashton Smith, author of IQ Mindware, recommends both of them.

    There are some others that aren’t nearly as valid. In general when it comes to measuring real benefit, I take IQ scores with a grain of salt and look more to daily performance gains, which are by nature subjective.

  • Salt: check. Case in point: dieting.

    I collected some personal data on dieting but there were three really big factors aside from the diet I tested: nutritional supplements, sleep schedule and exercise. I lost 25 pounds and my labs (lipids, A1C) were near miraculous improvements. But, I dropped the exercise and I’ve found sticking to the diet intensely more difficult and weight loss totally stagnant (I’ve actually gained 4-5 pounds).

    The exercise in this test was only 30 minutes a week. But, I’m convinced it’s the X factor in this month’s failure. Finding the magic sauce isn’t as simple as one may suspect.

    Intelligence and performance are also extremely hard to measure accurately. Did the exercises do the trick, or was it nutritional changes or attitude, relationships, etc. You can meet a new person that sparks focus and that can have a bigger impact on productivity than boosted brain performance.

    I want to increase brain performance specifically and singly because it plays a giant role in performance when I get the other stuff right, and I’d like to know what did it so I can duplicate, teach and maximize. Just like, I’d like to segregate the nutritional supplements that make the big difference from the exercise that makes the big gains.

    Measuring the right thing is the key.

    My obsession this week: brain gains. I appreciate your help!

  • Leon

    Hey Andrew,
    The Zeo data is pretty impressive! Did this hack provide any long term benefit to your sleep performance?

    Now for a curly one, from what i’m aware most IQ tests have a minimum interval before they can be retested and give a meaningful measurement. One i did not long ago has a maximum testing frequency of 3 years! Did you guys adhere to this when you were testing for your performance improvement?

    Love your work

  • Leon

    PS i baselined myself today and will definitely be trying your approach out over the next month or so.

    Would love to share my results if you guys set up a forum for it!

  • Leon

    PPS where does the Zeo graph correspond to on the first training chart?

    That is all i promise

  • Andrew Clark

    Hey Leon,

    Yes my REM has remained consistently in the high 30s since I started practicing with n-back again. The Zeo data is very recent, from the near the end of the second chart. It will be interesting to see if the REM falls when I finish this sequence (am on session 14 of 20 so will finish that out).

    I did use two different IQ tests for the before and after testing. Early yesterday I hadn’t yet found the one I used before, though I’ve now found it now, it’s called the JCTI:

    So I did JCTI before the n-back training and Anders Jensen after, and that’s how I got my score measurement. Those were the tests Mark recommended at the time.

  • Leon, can you URL me on this IQ test frequency data?

    I’d like to see is a test that consistently gives you a reliable measurement you can use repeatedly.

    • Intuit

      You know, the size of your vocabulary has the greatest correlation to intelligence than any other measure of intelligence; as such, it should be possible to develop a computer adaptive test. At some point, the words to be defined will start to exceed the capabilities of even the brightest mentalities. And there would be no possibility of cheating or of gains made from re-testing, because no two tests would ever be the same.

      • Dave Asprey

        Intuit, why do you think vocabulary ties to intelligence that way? Got studies? Memorizing words is easy.

  • Leon

    Hey Jason,
    The test i was referring to is called WASI, and the maximum frequency to avoid practice effects is actually 2 years. The manual for the test has all the info in it but in my 10 second google search i couldn’t find an online version.

    BTW i’m not an expert on this i’m just relaying what my girlfriend is saying. Also, note, having a psychologist girlfriend rocks – free psychometric testing 🙂

  • I thought about that: the Observer Effect.

    That which is observed is effected by the observation. Testing intelligence is virtually impossible without impacting the outcome of the following intelligence test. That’s why you need metrics that don’t change dramatically with exposure or retesting, and can be tested repeatedly.

    Get your psychology girlfriend in one this. Let’s find some metrics we can watch with reliable retesting and predictable retesting effect patterns (retesting increases score by X% consistently over a course of Y tests).

  • Dave Asprey

    Jason, you’re right about the observer effect. Figuring out what helped my mental performance and what didn’t was always a challenge. It gets easier if you do it for years. It also depends on what intelligence you’re measuring.

    The two most reliable indicators of my mental performance I have ever found are:

    1) Time to play 3 games of FreeCell. FreeCell is a Solitaire variant with a solution possible to every game possibility (we think; no one has been able to prove that mathematically). The cool thing is that the variance in difficulty of the games is not that high, but each is different. So once you learn the game well, it represents an amazing mix of memory, spatial awareness, and strategy. My alertness and mental performance varied so much in 1996 when I started testing this way that I could sometimes swing between about 4 minutes and 10 minutes. But before I started playing, I wouldn’t be able to tell how addled I was.

    2) Look at word recall when speaking. When your brain works, you don’t reach for words. If you can notice – or count – how many ums, ahs, and pauses you make, you’ll get a great picture of mental performance.

    Neither is an IQ test, but both are lightweight and easy for daily use.

    I’m to the point that if I have to reach for a word (very rare), I know something is totally wrong, and I can tell you what the most likely cause was. Our brains and bodies are that tunable…

    • Howard

      I have a problem with Freecell — it’s way too addictive, and I have found that I can’t stop at 3 games without some external application of discipline. So I just avoid it now. Haven’t tried the N-back exercises yet, but I almost expect the same addiction behavior. It would be interesting to learn *why* that sort of thing is so addicting.

  • This post was excellent. I have been trying to find some more brain hacking techniques other than simple mind games and this is something I plan on trying.

    I’ve heard that doing simple observational exercises can improve brain function. Like
    walking into a room,
    looking around,
    closing your eyes,
    and trying to remember exactly what everyone was doing. thoughts?

    I am curious if this may be a way of making polyphasic sleep more effective. While I still think the bulletproof sleep approach is better, this might make polyphasic less of a headache.

    I’m also curious if you all have experimented with any balance/proprioceptive variables. I’ve heard that after supplementing with omega-3’s people were able to improve their balance because of improved brain function. If you’re following a diet high in omega 3’s this is probably a moot point, but it would be fun to play with.

    Great job Andrew and Dave


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  • A 20 minute hack per day is fantastic, but has anyone tried training multiple times per day, longer time period, combining with Russian Sleep recovery naps, and really pushing the envelope with this software… curious if we’ve found the point of diminishing returns… thanks

    • Excellent questions Art,

      I think Andrew may have tried it multiple times a day at one point, but I doubt that would produce any better results. The kind of mental stress this puts your brain through generally takes some time to sink in, plus some REM sleep. That’s probably why Andrew’s REM sleep increased. His brain needed time to adapt and form new neural connections.

      I doubt doing it for longer periods would improve results significantly. I think Mark Ashton Smith knows what he’s doing. You can of course try it, but make sure you measure the results. I think this would be a fine example of the 80/20 rule. More training may help, but it might not be proportional to the amount of extra time spent.

      Power naps seem like a very cool idea. Try it out and let us know how it works. Don’t forget to use the sleep hacking tips on the site 🙂

      Andrew and Dave know more about this than I. I’ll try and get them on this topic too.

      Take care,


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  • Joseph Buchignani

    Question – the score I’m interested in raising is verbal IQ, since it’s the one correlated with economic achievement.

    Did it raise your verbal score, or some other component?

    • Andrew Clark

      Hi Joseph,
      I’m not sure how closely fluid intelligence/working memory is associated with verbal IQ specifically, but I’ve noticed an improvement in my verbal abilities from these exercises. The improvement is not easily quantified, but I did do extremely well on the GRE verbal section, which I took after 2 full 20-session blocks of n-back training. How much the GRE verbal section correlates with verbal IQ, I cannot say.

      • Joseph Buchignani

        Should’t you receive a breakdown of verbal, mathematical and visuo-spatial components from your IQ test? That would establish it.

        • Andrew Clark

          That depends on the IQ test I’d imagine–the IQ tests I took returned one IQ score as a result with no such breakdown.

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  • Intuit

    I took a power IQ test at and initially scored a 140; after about five sessions with Dual N Back, I retook the test and scored a 146. Granted, most online tests are bunk; however, I believe this test is an exception, and that it in fact approximates Gf very accurately. If you don’t believe me, take the test. Since its chief aim is to measure only capacity, and not both capacity and efficiency, it is untimed.

    I started Dual N Back training about a week ago, and have been doing a nightly session ever since; I plan to take a nightly session for two consecutive months and then re-take the test. I should note that I have always been verbally gifted; in fact, I once took a verbal analagies IQ test and hit the cieling of 155. This seems to confirm the theory that abilities correlate; a score of 155 is not astoundingly higher than than 146.

    • Teddy Bund

      You’re not gifted verbally if you cannot spell the word “ceiling” correctly.

    • Yonder

      Or “analogies”

      • intuit

        Verbal ability is not measured by silly mistakes committed on the Internet while typing fast (Yonder should know; he should have punctuated his correction with a period before the last quotation mark, as per American English guidelines). Also, verbal ability is defined as the ability to reason with words, not as the ability to type impeccably. I said that I was verbally gifted, not an infallible typist.

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  • hitfan

    I took the IQ test at and scored 118. I don’t know if that’s considered low with you ‘brainiacs’ 🙂 but I’ve scored anywhere between 110 and 145 on online IQ tests–they’re not all the same.

    I tried Dual N Backing for the first time yesterday. I was scoring about 25% on level 1 (just figuring out how to play it) and after 15 minutes of practice, I am scoring 75% on level 2. How much should I score at a certain level before I should increase? Keep in mind that I wasn’t using the DNB software you posted.

  • Albert

    Hi,I also have IQ mindware dual n back training software,I want to know if I trained with this dual n back software for 1 hour long,can my IQ also increase arond 2 points?

  • Curt

    Taking multiple IQ tests over time alone will raise your IQ score, as you improve at taking IQ tests. Any of you guys controlling for that?

    • Dave Asprey

      Curt, we recommend using different IQ tests each time, but it’s tough to control for that. The n+1 training is not nearly as much fun as some games purported to raise IQ, but there is more evidence that n+1 works.

    • yoder

      I know how to solve most of the answers on standard IQ tests so I always score quite high! IQ tests remain to be a problem in psych studies for this exact reason. But as far as I know, it is deemed an acceptable shortcoming that should be assumed in reading any study with them. (Until something better can be found, of course.)

    • Norl

      Taking IQ test for crystalline intelligence often will indeed improve the scores but not culture free IQ test for fluid intelligence (eg Raven test) that’s become a standard IQ test for joining MENSA.

    • mike

      Exactly. Taking IQ tests (you can purchase them on book format for preparation) will make you an expert in IQ tests, just like any other skill, resulting in high measured IQ.

      Personally, I like to spend my 10,000 hours of skill acquisition on more useful skills.

      • Justice0501

        10,000 hours has been debunked. It’s like 10,000 steps – corrleation not causation.

        • Serpent

          Hey, can you give me a link which would lead me somewhere where I can read about that? Interested in that, new perspective of view 🙂

        • robinvik1 .

          Read the book Peak by Anders Ericsson. Ericsson is the expertise expert whos research gave rise to the 10 000 hour rule.

          If you just want to know why it’s bullshit I sum it up for you. The longer you train, the better you become (some ways of training are more effective though). To be among the best you need around 10 000 hours training by the time you are 20. Why? Because that is what other people are willing to put in. If you are competing against people who put in 10 000 hours, you need to put in 10 000 hours as well to be as good. So the 10 000 hours is a social phenomena, not a psychological rule. If people were less willing to put in the hours you could be world class with fewer hours, and of course this used to be the case. Hundred years ago world class performers didn’t put in 10 000 hours to get there, they would have starved to death.

          Ericsson also explains that the examples like Beetles and Bill Gates are just biased estimations. People other than Gladwell have estimated they used far less than that, which makes sense. Not a lot of people were trying to do exactly what they did, and if their competitors hadn’t put in 10 000 hours there is no need for them to put in 10 000 hours to become better than their competitors.

        • Serpent

          Cheers for the recommendation, I’ll give it a look.

    • DSky1

      You won’t gain 20 points on an IQ test on your second try some years later just from a learning effect. That’s a bit absurd.

  • Howard

    Some good ideas here, but N=1 experiments are rife with Hawthorne Effect and Placebo Effect. Oh, and Nocebo Effect. I suspect the latter is behind your mycotoxin phobia. Humans evolved and thrived in environments heavily populated by mold & mildew, and fungus pre-dates humans by thousands of millennia. Humans have natural mechanisms for neutralizing and eliminating mycotoxins. “Feeling bad” or “Feeling good” are not generally accurate indicators for anything because of the huge number of possible confounders.

    • Dave Asprey

      Howard, thanks for your comment and your thinking here. The Hawthorne effect is known to be short-lived, but my improvements in productivity are long-lived and sustained. It’s hard to imagine – but not impossible – that I lost 100 lbs simply because I was paying more attention to myself. Then again, when I was paying attention to myself by working out 6x/week and eating limited calories, I didn’t lose weight. That leads to rejecting the Hawthorne effect.

      With regard to my “phobia” of mycotoxins, your skepticism makes sense. The problem is that we now have genetic data and a relatively complete understanding of the inflammation pathways. 28% of the population has HLA genes that make them susceptible to overactive innate immunity as a result of exposure to toxic molds. People who have been exposed can walk into a moldy building and know – often within 5 minutes – that something is wrong. It’s because micro-capillaries in the brain close off and a very intense feeling of brain fog comes in. It’s disabling. And here’s the funny thing – it’s repeatable. Take 2 susceptible people, blind them, and sit them in a building. You’ll find a very high percentage of people identify the buildings with mold in them.

      The food thing I was more skeptical of, but there is no other reason that *some* coffee and *some* chocolate cause repeatable problems, but others don’t. I have more than 900 references sitting here on my desk tying mycotoxins in our food to heart disease and cancer, and hundreds more linking them to systematic fertility problems in humans and animals. The animal data – where nocebo problems are a nonissue – is particularly convincing. We can induce arterial lesions, obesity, or miscarriage in pigs just by manipulating the level of mycotoxins in their feed. Farmers control for it using ELISA tests of feed for those reasons.

      I learned about this stuff because I’m a canary – my innate immunity was overactive for a long time. Biohacking lets me turn it off, but it can be overactivated again by certain toxins, and I’ve learned to avoid them, which has led to a huge increase in my quality of life and my performance across all domains.

      As for the argument that humans evolved to excrete mycotoxins, that’s true. The only problem is that the fungi that make mycotoxins evolved a lot faster than we did – because of Benomyl and glyphosate in particular – and we are now dealing with organisms that are up to 500 times more virulent than the ones we evolved to deal with. Maybe I am phobic, but the data doesn’t lie.

      And people who use my simple charcoal/bentonite protocol – people who don’t have the HLA genes, but people who do have symptoms – do improve, and in particular they lose weight and stop having chronic unexplained pain.

      The best explanation of the problem we’re facing with fungi is “Surviving Mold,” a book written by a physician who has mold illness and who has treated thousands of people successfully.

      I assure you, this stuff is real, and if you believe your toxin excretion capabilities are a match for the stuff that grows in wet buildings and improperly stored foods, you’re doing so at your own peril. Unless, of course, you are blessed with ApoE 2,3 in which case you can probably swim in these toxins without noticing.

    • Feel free to actually read some scientific information on the matter, Howard. I guess you missed the part about the ~25% or so of the population that has impaired ability to detoxify these things, in addition to the severe impairment in detoxification ability that people experience when under stress, which was not constant thousands of millennia ago. (And also… things that predate humans are not harmful to humans?) If you want to get all historical and you’re into that sort of thing, check out what the bible had to say about mold.

      • So you’re suggesting humans were less stressed thousands of millenia ago and using the bible as “history”?

      • Potentially good information can easily get lost behind a snide delivery. We’re all here to find answers and truths.

    • There’s a overly simplified skeptical view point that: anything that claims to make you smarter or healthier is a fraud because of the Placebo Effect.

      As a layperson I make my decisions about products on these criteria:
      1) Is there studies demonstrating that it makes people healthier? I’m not trained to read and completely understand scientific studies and papers, so I focus on the statements in the beginnings and the ends of the papers, where the researchers summarize the findings.
      2) Is there a body of 3rd party credibility online? Dozens of legit testimonials, Youtube videos, case studies, 5 star Amazon reviews and blog comments. It’s possible to fake SOME of these but a product manufacturer faking all of them is really unlikely.
      3) If I try the product is there a measurable difference?

      In the case of Dual N-Back training it’s a solid YES to all three for me.

      Does that mean I’m using the Placebo Effect to make me a healthier, happier and more productive person? Maybe! Either way I’m getting great results from the products I spend my money on.

      • > In the case of Dual N-Back training it’s a solid YES to all three for me.

        You should know that dual n-back’s effect on IQ really is just a Hawthorne/expectancy effect. Please see my where I collate all n-back studies available so far and summarize the effects. In studies where the control group did no training of any kind and so knew they were not receiving the intervention, the average difference in gain was <9.75 IQ points. And in the studies where the control group did some irrelevant training like memorizing trivia? <2.4 points, and this is not even statistically-significant from a gain of 0 points.

        So as anyone – who is aware of the roughly 70 years of psychology research and hundreds of research failures to find IQ boosting interventions – would expect, n-back turns out to be an illusion. Given the expectancy effects at play, you would 'benefit' from doing anything at all…

        • Ellis Reppo

          So you’re saying if I expect to do better (if i believe really hard), I will do better? Placebo a little?

      • names are for slaves

        i agree

    • Laura Grace

      I know that a lot of things got better when I moved out of a mold infested apartment. I wasn’t risking my life on a daily basis, but I certainly wasn’t thriving either. And who knows that the long term effects could be…

  • so from meditation over 40 years you raised your IQ 12 points, but with this software training program you raised your IQ 18 points in just 10 days? so you’re saying at one time you IQ was 30 points less than it is now???

    • Dave Asprey

      Not quite. Andrew raised his IQ by 18 points, not me. I raised mine by 12 with the neurofeedback/meditation/zen thing, then again with dual n-back, by another dozen, and after that we have the effects of creatine which if you’re over 30 gives you another ten or so points. Taking the same test over and over again makes you better at the test so the results get skewed. But seriously, I was never stupid, but my brain was quite broken as shown in the video, and it is profoundly productive. While it is not practical to measure IQ every month or even every year, the short answer for me is somewhere between 20 and 30 points, and conceivably up to 40, although it’s likely that there is some overlap in those methods that makes 40 less likely.

  • Gonzosan

    I bought the software a few weeks ago, and although I don’t use it as often I do really enjoy it. Definitely makes it challenging. It took me a while just to understand how to play these “games” but I got better the more I played. I also got a year subscription to Luminosity. I have to say I really enjoy these games. When I took my IQ test I was at 120, which made me happy considering I thought I was in the 100s. We’ll see how far I can progress. I will be deploying soon and I will try to do both the Mindware and luminosity games to see how much I can progress within 6 months. I’ll take another IQ test afterwards, although I do feel like my brain fires off faster after playing these games. I know in class we’d play random word games, like different words in weird shapes or broken apart to mean something different. Like you’d have the word “uction” in red, which meant “reduction”. Those kind of games, I was able to guess most of them fairly easily, which was a bit harder for me before. Little things like that make me realize I’m making some progress, either way I feel it’s a good way to keep the brain healthy.

    • Dave Asprey

      It’s really cool how you can feel yourself getting smarter. Once you start paying attention to your cognition, your performance becomes something you can monitor and modify. Love the way you’re waiting a while to take a 2nd IQ test!

      • john

        But the question is, do you feel yourself getting smarter, or do you feel yourself getting better at the games you practice? Because if I suck at something, and I practice, I’ll improve. It doesn’t mean my IQ increased.

        Or perhaps, it does. If practicing a certain thing makes me better/understand at a lot of other things, maybe my IQ did raise, or maybe it’s just because the other things are similar.

        Lets say I learn to play guitar, so I improved my guitar IQ. Maybe when I start learning piano I’ll progress fast (because I’m smart), but I don’t think I’ll magically be better at math. Perhaps I will have the ability to learn math better than before, but there are too many variables to accurately measure that.

        • Josh

          I agree with you, but say I want to be a physicist but I think my IQ is too low. The three most important things to being a physicist is probably this 1: Learning the knowledge of physics 2: Learning how to problem solve and 3: Learning how to come up with ideas on your own. If the physicist to be trains his/her brain to be better at these 3 things, they probably don’t give a crap whether there IQ increased or stayed exactly the same! They now have the tools to be a good physicist with or without a high IQ!

  • cogrick2

    The link is broken above that appears as “posted here at”.

  • cogrick2

    Two days in to the training and I have done three sesions since I saw somewhere, perhaps the I3Mindware webstie, that you can do a session in the morning and one in the evening. My working memory capacity jumped from a steady 2.3 in the first two sessions to a 3 in the third. It’s hard to know what is a practice-effect, whatever that means, and what is a deeper effect. I find 3-back quite challenging – it feels often like I am going with a gut feeling, yet I am right at a higher percentage than expected.

  • Andrea Feucht

    I have an idea for controlling IQ test score “creep”: I will take one test, then wait a few days, then take the same test again and see if my results go up just from familiarity. THEN I will do the dual-N-back training and wait at least 3 more months and re-test with the same IQ test. Those three numbers should give a good indicator of progress.

    I am assuming the 2nd time will be higher. Let’s assume 10pts higher. If the third time is higher than the 2nd time, that should be fairly conclusive of improvement. If the 3rd time is in between the 1st and second times, that indicates there was some improvement but that the test is susceptible to familiarity bias.


    • If you have done the test once, it will surely be easier the 2nd and 3rd time.

      As far as I can see it, you need to do a different test the 2nd and 3rd time.

      Andrew: Can you recommend some specific tests to use for the before and after measurements?


  • Meditation, which in some ways is what this is certainly would raise IQ because IQ is raised with better attention span. However there is another method to consider too that can be added to this. We all live in some measure of comfort zone. I found that this not only affects attention but is the worst thing for your health.

    A comfort zone is found by a number of ways but two are key. Both involve a manipulation of the breath. Some people will take slightly deeper breaths and some more shallow. Those that take deeper breaths effectively raise their metabolism and hence the work that needs to be done in the brain. This brings about a distraction because the brain rationalizes its fuel materials for those centers that it deems more necessary. Hence perception is compromised and thus full attention is lost. The other which takes shallower breaths, lowers metabolism and enters a state of lethargy akin to the very early stages of sleep. Again attention is affected. I discuss them on my blog here

    Both of these can have profound adverse affects on the heart under stressful conditions. There are many adverse effects in the body not only the serious compromise of the heart which will lead to heart disease under certain conditions as you can see here You can see the graph directly relating to the addverse effects of a coping habit about halfway down the page.

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  • charles

    hi man. I share with you my progress. At the beginning, I was a dual-3 (or 4) back player. A have played for some months and I reached the level 7 or 8. It’s now amazing how I find the level 5 super easy for me. It’s an amazing game. But, I have stopped for 3 months. My level decreases. Now, I start again and I’m on the level 6.

  • The link to the free stuff is broken. Thought I’d give it a spin. Although my intuition tells me this won’t really work on me lol. I’ve played Starcraft and STarcraft 2 for so many years. Doubt any other game than that can make you smarter lol. But guess I’ll find out when you fix the link =p

  • Riaan

    Dear Andrew,

    I found your article very interesting and usefull. I do however have a comment/ question regarding improving your IQ score. IQ is simply a measurement of the construct Intelligence. Now, there is a correlation with IQ score and performance in various areas that require mental skills. Therefore it is assumed that IQ is a good measurement of intelligence.

    When a person starts practicing with this software, it could ofcourse be possible that his or her actual intelligence goes up. However they could also be improving a skill rather than their intelligence. And therefore decreasing the strength of correlation between IQ score and actual intelligence.

    I look forward to trying out this software and reading your other articles.

    Kind regards,


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  • Jon


    What do you have to say about this critique of the study? Redick et al 2012, “Despite improvements on both the dual n-back and visual search tasks
    with practice, and despite a high level of statistical power, there was
    no positive transfer to any of the cognitive ability tests.”

  • Itsfree

    Brain Workshop has a “Jaeggi Mode” which follows all of the guidelines of Jaeggi’s original study.

  • Hi Andrew, I’ve used Lumosity which has a similar
    speed exercise to what is described here. I just grabbed an N-Back app on iTunes. My question may have been answered
    previously but I couldn’t find it. In the article you talk about IQ increase
    per hour of training. I’m curious to know if those hours are cumulative or
    linear? That is, I’d like to train during short breaks throughout the day and
    I’m curious to know if you have evidence to suggest whether longer
    or shorter training sessions are ideal. Or if one or the other is just a waste
    of time.

    Dave I’m a big fan of your podcast. I’m sitting in
    front of the most bulletproof coffee I can make here in Central Mexico. We’re
    without the convenience of a Blue Bottle Café in these parts.

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  • Alex W

    So the N-Back skill remained after the 8 month period but did the IQ points remain as well?

    • Joe

      He said that his IQ improved by 18 points the second time he took the test

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  • Tegestologist
  • BaldBird

    Not buying it. I’m willing to bet learning new things and doing some physical exercise is better for your brain.

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  • LaCoreen

    It sickens me to see a pharmaceutical drug is being promoted, with the claim that it makes one outperform others that don’t take this drug. I don’t care what drug it is, legal or illegal, all they are a debt. You get the desired effect from whatever drug you are taking, and it’s very easy to build dependence, psychologically if not physically. This article is just wrong on so many levels, actively promoting pharmaceuticals with the benefits which are merely placebo effects? How much are you being paid by Modafinil companies? How can you trust an industry which systematically seeks to keep naive people dependent on their drugs? It just shows that people who don’t know anything about organic chemistry should not be writing articles on promoting some superficial pharam product, it’s a wonder, how pervasive drug culture is in North America. If you need help concentrating, smoke some sativa weed or just go for a fucking jog, people using drugs to get ahead in life are fooling themselves, sooner or later, you are going to be paying the debt.

    • Dave Asprey

      Hi, LaCoreen.

      Your crying really doesn’t concern me very much. Afterall, we all know that I’ve already made bank on this whole Bulletproof deal 😉

    • kelly

      Hey fuck boy when does it mention drugs in this article?

      • justin

        lmaoooooooooo you are a frikken joker.

    • jkh

      The pervasiveness of pharmaceutical culture is an issue only for uninformed people. Choosing to promote a drug on a case by case basis with reasonable scientific inquiry does not promote the entire culture. The onus is on readers to do their own research, not the writer for giving his honest opinion. If you are skeptical, then good, do as you see fit but know there are people that derive value from anecdotes such as this and that information is for them.

    • Garrett K

      Modafinil wasn’t mentioned in this article. In fact, this entire article revolved around using Dual-N-Back for improving brain functionality. The only thing ingestion related was the Bulletproof Diet.

      • joao

        He seems to be in need of some IQ increasing drug lmao!

    • Oliver

      …..angry much?

    • nickjuntilla

      You don’t like FDA approved drugs, but you like smoking something you found in the backyard. It’s like you agree essentially, but you don’t agree with the science. You’re main problem is that you are not using science to base your opinion and since human thought begins as scientific and logical everything you say is in fact born of manipulation probably by your peer group. If you are going to communicate at all then use logic and if you use logic then use science and if you use science then use our thousands of years of scientific progress and if you use our thousands of years of scientific progress than choose drugs chosen by scientists rather than what your stoner friend says. Have a good evening.

      • Heute Ist Morgen

        Ahm, the scientific method is an offspring of western philosophy developed around twohundred years ago (being derived from empirism and rationalism). Before, brilliant heads from Platon to daVinci happily mixed their observations, general education and religious superstition along with some general insights in life matters (that people seemingly develop as they age) to produce abstract knowledge that can be communicated and passed along the generation lines. And as logic goes, to say it with Dr. Hoyninger-Heurne: We can’t say if the sentence is true, but we can say what would logically happen if the sentence were to be true… There’s no perfect system to derive absolute knowledge (yet). Even the stuff that apparently works is seldomly actually fully understood by every single person contributing to it.
        And for crivens sake don’t judge people misusing orthography like that.

    • Guest

      bashes pharmaceuticals for beign “debt”, recommends sativa weed for focus, seems legit

    • robinvik1 .

      So you are vehemently against performance enhancing drugs, but advocate smoking sativa weed for increased concentration? Square that circle for me, would you?

  • My experiences with N-back… I went off all smart drugs for 3 months while traveling abroad, I experienced a noticeable decrease in motivation and focus on getting things done. When HighIQPro rolled out it’s Android version I stepped up my Dual N-Back training regimen, I was consistently doing 20 minutes daily, 5 days a week. After I had gotten about 15 sessions into Dual N-Back training I could definitely detect a difference in my level of focus and commitment getting work done. Not quite the same as doing 4-6 grams Nootropics a day but my productivity and imperviousness to distraction was definitely improved after making Dual N-Back training a regular part of my day. Here’s an infographic I hope you’ll find useful on two technologies that compliment the N-Back task.

  • Dr. Eigenvector

    There is good evidence that n-back lacks construct validity; that is, you’ll get very good at n-back but it won’t carry into other tasks. Most of the positive findings are from Jaeggi herself.

    Redick, T. S.; Shipstead, Z.; Harrison, T. L.; Hicks, K. L.; Fried, D. E.; Hambrick, D. Z.; Kane, M. J.; Engle, R. W. (2012). “No Evidence of Intelligence Improvement After Working Memory Training: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi:10.1037/a0029082.PMID 22708717.

    Redick, T. S.; Shipstead, Z.; Harrison, T. L.; Hicks, K. L.; Fried, D. E.; Hambrick, D. Z.; Kane, M. J.; Engle, R. W. (2012). “No Evidence of Intelligence Improvement After Working Memory Training: A Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study”. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General. doi:10.1037/a0029082.PMID 22708717.

    I wish this weren’t the case, but alas. Donate money to researchers like Gary Lynch, who might actually develop sustainable and potent cognitive enhancing drugs.

  • Zeus

    Just wanted to give an update, as I am new to this website and this post. I found that Brain Workshop actually has the option to use Jaeggi parameters.

    “Jaeggi Mode

    Brain Workshop has an optional Jaeggi mode which modifies several options to increase the simplicity of the dual n-back task. Jaeggi mode emulates the protocol used in the original research study as closely as possible. Editing the config file (see section below titled “Configuration Options”) and setting Jaeggi_MODE = True will cause the following changes:”

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  • Adcomis

    The link titled “posted here at” takes you to the Bulletproof Mindware product page, which states that it is currently under development. It says to try the Brain Workshop program while Bulletproof Mindware is under development, which I am not interested in due to the reasons mentioned in the post. Is the IQ Mindware i3 being improved upon and rebranded? I am disabled and I usually have to help simple tasks and I thought the IQ Mindware i3 could help me. Does Bulletproof Executive no longer support that software? I’m just looking for a little bit of help. I thought I might buy it.

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  • Anne

    I am glad, that i came across this post. Execellent idea, thanks for sharing it.

  • Rdd TheStrong

    I know video games are considered a waste of time by most people, but Are there any video games that can improve the IQ?

    • Joe

      Try Starcraft. Real time strategy has already been proven to improve cognition and special awareness and problem solving. I don’t know of any studies that specifically measure the effects of gaming to IQ, but I guess that only matters depending on your end goal.

    • Dmitri Sergeyvich Sochlioukov

      There are lots of benefits from different games, however a sideeffect is that you’ll often develop skills within a game scenario that do not necessarily translate to anything else outside of it.

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  • What do you use now that Zeo is out of business?

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  • anonben

    I got a 126 on my first IQ test and i think that this should help me get to good 130. I took a test a week ago and the result came out to be 135 but the person who evaluated the results told me that this tends to happen as people take IQ tests with greater frequency. I was then given another test that tests one on a different aspect and the result came out to be the same as it was the first time except it was 1 point lower. I was told that such fluctuations tend to happen due an inability for tests to be completely objective.

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  • Dave

    I love this stuff please post more like these. Dual n-back, even if it’s fake has given me confidence to work better as a team and be more empathetic faster with others, I can’t explain it or test it since I’m poor but I felt a boost. Huge. Thank you so much for this guys.

  • Davide

    But after you increase your IQ of 20 points after also 1 month, then after these gains you can increase of also other points your IQ in the next months or is there a limit for other points? thanks

  • I would suggest one more IQ-test. It was originally developed for Mensa Norway, and is available here: (in Norwegian). Since then, Mensa France and Mensa Finland has also started using it.

    To the best of our knowledge, it gives an accurate measure compared to full scale tests such as WAIS, and figure tests such as FRT, Raven and Cattell. It is free, and has been taken 600.000 times in Norway alone.

    I know it pretty well, since I was one of the designers of the test.

    • Ellis Reppo

      Fun test. Too bad they only have 1 set of questions.

  • Nicolas Morrison

    Become more intelligent and increase your IQ:

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  • My Iq increased with 20 points (age 22-28)in the last 6 years from 112 to 132, permanent change. I build up from metaphysics, religion, to hardcore philosophy and science. Now I am at complex system theory. I use 500 different thinking faculties and methods to learn information, I have flawless pattern recognition. I am singer, a dancer, a comedian, a speaker, teacher, writer, manager, and interested in all sciences and faculties. I am for the most part an autodidact, but have a peer group of doctorandusses and master students.

    • Ellis Reppo

      You are impressive. Lets be friends.

      • How?

        • M7md 3li

          please specify exactly what you did in a detailed manner to incease IQ and what IQ tests did you take to verify the increase

  • Carolen Andrew

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  • Emily

    Please read other articles people.

    Strengthened Effective Connectivity Underlies Transfer of
    Working Memory Training to Tests of Short-Term Memory
    and Attention by Bornali Kundu,1 David W. Sutterer,3 Stephen M. Emrich,4 and Bradley R. Postle1,2

    The dual n-back was not found to transfer to Fluid Intelligence in this study.

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  • If somebody can tell me how it works? I don’t understood it.

  • > it will make IQ hacking far more easier

  • Relaxing Tomato

    What sneaky advertising…