By Emily Price
October 23, 2017

Want to boost your brain power? Researchers at Johns Hopkins think they have a solution.

There are countless programs out there claiming to help improve your brain function. To date, none of them have been proven to be effective. But researchers at Johns Hopkins recently compared two exercises thought to improve brain power, specifically your working memory (not your IQ), which can help you handle a number of work and school-related tasks easier.

The result? Measurable improvement.

The two brain exercises are called “dual n-back” and “complex span.” In the first, a player sees a set of blue squares on a gray background in one of eight locations on a screen. Each time a square appears, the game will say a letter and the participant is tasked with remembering what they heard several steps prior to the one they are on. The longer the game goes, the harder the sequence is.

In the second, a player has to remember a sequence of red squares that are projected onto a four-by-four grid. A distraction sometimes appears between squares. Those on the dual n-back group saw a 30% improvement in their working memory after playing the game for 30 days, almost double what the complex span group saw.

The result is encouraging, the researchers said. “People say cognitive training either works or doesn’t work. We showed that it matters what kind of training you’re doing,” said lead author Kara J. Blacker in a statement. “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.”

Their findings were published in the Journal of Cognitive Enhancement.

Want to give it a try yourself? You can get a feel for the game by playing this YouTube version below:

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