Completing 20 sessions of dual n-back requires a fair amount of self-discipline. To help you stay motivated in your quest to raise your IQ, we’ve included different ways for you to track your progress. Not only does the N-Back Challenge allow you to explore how your performance has evolved over time, for example, or how your all-time stats stack up against those of everyone else, but it also features a series of “leaderboards” that enable you to compete directly against your friends and other users.
Access the Stats View to See Where You Stand
In order to access the N-Back Challenge stats view, you need to tap the stats icon in the top-left corner of the home screen. Once you do so, you will notice a segmented control at the top, which allows you to access three different types of stats. Let’s start with the first of these, the overview stats that summarize your overall performance to date along various core metrics.
Total sessions. At the top of your overview stats, you will see your “total sessions” — i.e., the cumulative number of n-back sessions you have completed since signing up. (Remember: Each session of dual n-back consists of 12 individual rounds.) This is the most important metric in the N-Back Challenge, because it represents the total amount of cognitive training your brain has received. So, if you are a person who is, by nature, competitive, and enjoys using stats to track your progress, this is the metric you should be channeling your energy toward.
In this context, note that every stats card not only tells you where you stand on an absolute basis, but also how you stack up against all other users. If you look at the right-hand side of each stats card, you will notice a percentage value. If it says “19% of all users”, for example, it means that you are among the top 19% of all N-Back Challenge users for this particular metric. Put differently, you outrank 81% of your peers!
In addition, note that you can tap all of the stats cards to flip them over and reveal additional data. For example, if you tap the “total sessions” card, it will flip over to show you the total number of 20-Day Challenges you have managed to complete so far. (If you’re still working on your first Challenge, you’ll simply see a zero here, naturally.)
Longest streak. On the second card, you will see your “longest streak” — i.e., the highest number of consecutive days on which you’ve completed at least one round of dual n-back. A plethora of research has shown that, in order to build (and maintain) a habit, it’s critical to complete at least a minimal amount of the target activity every day.
For example, to establish a habit of flossing your teeth, you should make a point of flossing at least a single tooth every day. It may feel pointless, even absurd — but it makes a huge difference! Likewise, to turn cognitive training into a habit, be sure to play at least one round of dual n-back every day. The streak record metric is designed to encourage you to do just that.
Highest level. The third and final card, “highest level,” displays the highest n-back level you’ve ever reached as a result of successfully completing the prior level. So, for example, if you’ve just managed to successfully complete level 2 and have thus risen to level 3 for the first time, you will see the number 3 here. (Remember: In order to successfully complete a given level, both your position and your sound score need to be 90% or higher.)
By the end of their 20-Day Challenge, learners often reach a somewhat higher n-back level than at the beginning of their journey. But we encourage you not to focus too much on this particular metric. Indeed, if you start becoming obsessed with your n-back level, you will not only be setting yourself up to feel discouraged and lose motivation quickly, but you might even compromise your cognitive gains from the exercise. It’s much better to focus on trying to wring as much cognitive strain as possible out of any given n-back level!
Consider an analogy: Let’s say you try to build muscles. If, during your strength training, you focus too much on the amount of weight you can handle as your yardstick for improvement, you’ll likely end up “cheating” via compensatory movements. This will not only give you a false sense of progress, but, importantly, it will actually reduce the strain on the very muscle you are trying to grow. What’s more, it will increase the stress on ancillary joints, which may lead to injury. Much better, instead, to focus on proper execution of the exercise at hand in a way that maximizes strain on the target muscle; and, if that doesn’t challenge you enough, to consider slowing down your movement, which will raise the intensity of your exercises at any given weight.
In short: Don’t try to impress your gym buddies by how much weight you are putting on. Optimize for actual muscle growth — which will impress your gym buddies soon enough. In the case of dual n-back, resist the temptation to feel competitive about your level record, or to feel disappointed when you seem to be plateauing. This is not a video game, where it’s normal to keep rising in level all the time. Instead, channel your competitive energy toward staying with the exercise despite the cognitive strain it causes!
Explore How Your Performance Has Evolved
As nice as it is to be able to see where you stand, and how that compares to the N-Back Challenge user base as a whole, you’ll probably also want to get a sense of how your performance has evolved over time.
This is where the Challenge stats view comes into play. To access it, simply tap the second section of the segmented control at the top, labeled “Challenge.” (Or “Challenges,” plural, if you’ve already completed your first 20-Day Challenge.)
In the Challenge stats view, you will see a visualization of your progress during your current (and any past) Challenge, via a line chart that depicts the average n-back level for each completed session. If you tap the line chart, it will flip over to show you how your average position and sound scores have evolved, session by session. In addition, you can find all kinds of other stats about the Challenge — such as your average n-back level, how that compares to all other users, and your average visual and auditory scores.
Note that you can access a similar view upon completing each of your individual sessions as well. All you need to do is tap the stats icon in the top-right corner of the post-session view. Besides giving you access to your Challenge stats, it will allow you to view stats about the individual session you have completed. For example, you will be able to review the changes in n-back level after each round, as well as your average n-back level during the session, and how your session performance stacks up against other users.
Compete Against Friends via Leaderboards
By far the most fun way to use stats in the N-Back Challenge is to compete against friends (and foes) via our leaderboards.
There are four leaderboards for you to compete in: “Total Sessions,” “Longest Streak,” “Highest Level Overall,” and “Highest Level Scientific.” The last one refers to the highest n-back level you’ve achieved with all advanced settings kept at their scientific defaults. I.e., if you tweak any of the advanced settings, then achieve a new level record, it will affect your “Highest Level Overall,” but it will not affect your “Highest Level Scientific.”
To access the leaderboards, simply tap the third section of the segmented control at the top, labeled “Leaderboards,” then choose any of the four available individual leaderboards by tapping it. If friends of yours are taking the N-Back Challenge, but you don’t see them in your leaderboards, it means you aren’t connected with them yet on Game Center (iOS) or Google Play Games (Android), respectively. You can connect with them directly from within the N-Back Challenge leaderboards by tapping the “Add friends” button at the bottom of the leaderboards view. Note that you can only connect with friends from the same platform you are using. So, for example, if you use an iPhone, you can only add friends to your leaderboard who use an iPhone as well. Ditto for Android.
If your friends aren’t taking the N-Back Challenge yet, you first need to invite them to sign up. To that end, visit the Settings view in the N-Back Challenge, then use the Share feature. By inviting your friends in this way, each of you will earn a free “coffee.” Once your friends have signed up, return to the leaderboards view and tap the “Add friends” button to connect with them.
On Android, it could be that your friends can’t see you in their leaderboards even though you are connected. If so, it’s likely because of your Google Play Games privacy settings. You can select between three different levels of visibility: (1) everyone, (2) friends only, and (3) only you. “Everyone” means that your leaderboard position will be visible to every other N-Back Challenge user on Android. “Friends only” means that only N-Back Challenge users with whom you are connected via Google Play Games can see you in their leaderboards. And “only you” makes your leaderboard positions invisible to everyone. You can change your privacy settings by tapping “Google,” “Settings for Google apps,” and “Play Games,” in that order. Then, under “Profile and privacy”, you can then decide who can view your activity.
As hinted above, besides competing against your friends, you can also compete against all other N-Back Challenge users on your platform. Just tap the “iOS users” or “Android users” section of the segmented control at the top of the view. Since dual n-back requires a lot of self-discipline and, as a result, many users give up quickly, you might find it surprisingly easy to rise toward the top of the global leaderboards — as long as you stick with it!