I’ve been at it two full months now, and I have to say that I think I’ve been relatively faithful in my efforts. The workouts they set up for you every day include four different exercises and they say that completing them should take you about twenty minutes. In one place they recommend that you do the twenty minute workout three times a week. In other places – and when I actually made contact with them through email – they recommend that you train ninety minutes a week in three, thirty-minute sessions.
I have done far more than that. I have trained almost every day since I started and more of my sessions have been longer than 30 minutes than not.
I’ve made some progress, buy their reckoning, upping my percentile rating by about five points since the start. As is obvious from my schedule, I am a little obsessed with this. It is frustrating and trying in many ways, and getting more so. I made progress faster at the start and now the challenges are getting tougher and the decisions finer and quicker and I almost despair over whether I will ever gain another percentile.
Someone might argue that this misses the point. You are not training to beat anyone, you are training to improve your brain function. But the only way I know of to measure whether it is actually working is the way you measure up to the crowd.
One thing about that. I really wonder just exactly what kind of crowd I am being measured against. I mean, who in the world does brain training,anyway? Is this group anywhere near a representative sampling of the population (nobody said that it was – its just other users of the program) or is it heavily weighted toward those, who, like me, obsess about brain power? In other words, is the group that I am measuring myself against a bunch of smarty-pants geeks who never left the library in college?
Also, what percentage of that sample has been at this program for longer than me and have thus gotten smarter along the way? No way to know that. I do think that I would test at a far higher percentile if the group was actually a representative sampling of the population at large.
Then again, it could be just the other way. It could be that lots of the folks who use the program are those who have suffered some kind of brain injury, trauma or disease and, thus, are lower in brain power than the general population. Probably some of both.
I’ve said it before, but I am surprised at how varied my scores are among the several categories they measure. I am strongest, by far, in what they call “people skills” and weakest in the area they call “navigation.” I’m surprised at my “people skill” strength. I don’t think I have the reputation of being a “people person” and I don’t think that most people who know me would think of that as my strongest suit.
The trouble with navigation does not surprise me, though. As I have said before, I never have been one to have an innate sense of direction, like some do. One of the tests in this category is called “Right Turn.” You are shown seemingly identical objects in varied angles and asked to choose whether the objects are identical or are mirror images of each other. I struggle here. I still have not gotten out of the first stages of testing here and in the more difficult phases of the first stage I am almost completely lost and find myself simply guessing.
I have made progress almost everywhere else, even in the other areas of navigation testing, but this single area – well, there is actually one other area that is a problem for me, but that is for another post – is holding me back on my overall score.
I am still gung ho for the program. I am still willing to accept the premise of it all – that the brain is like a muscle and its strength, capacity, speed and agility may be improved through exercise. What a wonderful notion!
I’d like to hear from others who are doing the program.