N-Back is a game where every few seconds, things happen. Your goal is to remember those things!
The 'N' in N-back determines how many rounds of stimuli behind the current one you need to remember(i.e. n=4 means 4 rounds back).
The game mode you select will determine what kinds of things you need to pay attention to.
Single - Position
Dual - Position and sound(a letter, said out loud)
Triple - Position, sound, and color
Below the game board there are buttons: Position, Sound, and Color.
These buttons(and their corresponding keyboard keys) do exactly what you think they should do! Press them when you think there is a match.
For example: if you choose to play n-back of 2 in 'Single' mode (where you keep track of positions), you will click the 'Position' button(or the Q key) whenever you think the current position of the grey square matches it's position from two rounds ago.
There are 20 scoring rounds per game. Each round you can score a point for each correct guess(match or no match). This means you can get up to 20 points in 'Single' mode, 40 in 'Dual', or 60 in 'Triple'.
The Science Behind n-Back
Smartipants is based on a mental performance task called n-back. The n-back was introduced in 1958 by Wayne Kirchner1, a cognitive researcher studying memory. The purpose of the task is to measure the working memory (short-term memory) of the participant. However, performing this task has the added benefit of increasing your working memory and fluid intelligence2. Fluid intelligence is linked to IQ, and has to do with pattern recognition and problem solving3.
Smartipants provides a way of turning n-back into an easy to play and fun game that gives you total control over the difficulty. Beginners start at single 1-back, meaning they simply have to remember if the position currently displayed on the screen is the same as the one before it. However, as you get better at the game - and improve your working memory in the process - you can move onto dual and triple n-back, as well as going 2-,3-, and all the way up to 9-back!
A simple game is not all that Smartipants provides, however. If you're signed in, your profile page shows you detailed graphs with stats of your most recent game, as well as a graph depicting your overall progress. In the future, you'll be able to see overall statistics for others playing Smartipants, be able to challenge your friends to beat your scores, and even find out how you learn!
So go ahead and train your brain, you'll be glad you did. For more information about n-back, please visit these links: