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My copy of BrainBuilder arrived yesterday, so I spent an hour or so getting it installed and playing with it. The aim of the program is to increase the sequential processing power of the brain by a series of simple exercises. What is sequential processing capacity? Basically it is the number of digits we can hold in short term memory. For instance if someone says to you "Please call 596-5873", can you remember the seven digits long enough to dial them? The normal digit span for adults is 5-9 digits. According to the program manual those with digit spans of 9 and above are functioning with superior abilities.

Since I have always had a very poor memory for things like telephone numbers and names and have never been able to remember my car registration number, I was interested to find that my rating for most of the exercises was a 5. That could explain a lot!

However it's not just relatively trivial things like memorising telephone numbers that are affected by sequential processing capacity. According to the program's creators, it lies at the basis of most of our thinking processes. Someone who is able to remember and manipulate nine factors at time while thinking through a problem is going to have a considerable advantage over someone who can only manage five.

So in road testing this program I am looking for two main things:

  1. Will it succeed in increasing the number of digits I can remember?
  2. And if it does succeed, what effect if any will that have on my thinking abilities?

Obviously the answer to Q2. is going to be a lot more subjective than the answer to Q1. However I am so bad at short-term memory that any real improvement should be very noticeable and make a significant difference to my life!

Note: I'm testing the CD version of the program. There's also an on-line version at which is subscription based and appears to offer more exercises.


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