Engineer & Entertain

Ideas I grapple with

In the name of science

In my effort to stay conscious I monitored my brain’s capabilities via Nintendo’s Brain Age for the DS.  I did not have an EEG to properly measure my brain waves so I figured Brain Age would be the next best thing; after all it has a Stroop test and the Stroop test is used to measure slight changes in cerebration.

I performed several tests routinely.  One test times how long the participant takes to perform twenty simple math problems.  Typically, it takes me 15 seconds.  After 24 hours it took me 19 seconds.  After 36 and 42 hours it took me 24 seconds.  Clearly the brain was having some issues with the phonetic R of the three Rs.

Math has never been my strong suit.  My calculus grade will reflect that as will my disproportionate gratuity to service staff.  Another test involves reading aloud a passage from a classic text as quickly as possible without doing things like slurring words.  I’ve had good rates at 13 to 14 syllables per second.  With the deprivation my rates went to 8 syllables per second.  I can still read but it’s like I went back to third grade. 

The only test where there was not any change involved a series of numbers being flashed in a set of boxes for one second.  Afterward, I had to tap blank boxes from low to high.  While my record is 15 numbers without mistakes I typically remember 9 or 12 numbers.  With this experiment I maintained my ability to remember 9 or 12 numbers.  There was no change with time. 

Interestingly enough when I played another game that has you keep track of people entering and exiting a house I did not have any variation in performance.  The games which involved memory showed very little change but the games with more mental work showed a sharp decline in performance.  I can observe and remember but not do anything with these observations and memory.  The only metric resulted from a video game.

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5 thoughts on “In the name of science

  1. This is fascinating information – thanks for posting. I will also note to put you in charge of remembering approximately a dozen items over short rapid fire mathematics, should I find you incredibly sleep deprived.

    • Anonymous on said:

      In my experience my limitations in the DS brain age are actually writing the answers.

      Over the years I’ve definitely realized that sleep deprivation decreases my ability to take derivatives of polynomials, and to write out the details of proofs. Interestingly enough I can usually still see the fundamental ideas, and I might even see them better.

      I was introduced to p-adic numbers when I was extremely sleep deprived. Normally they freak people out, and it does make sense. For example in the 2-adic numbers, the sequence 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, …. converges to 0. In a sleep deprived state, this made perfect sense.

      Its weird, now that I’ve been off, and taking sleep, I kinda miss the depravation, which explains why I”m commenting on your blog late at night.

      Yay Science,

      Jamie

      P.S. Do you have a chart of your progress, its sad, but I’m kind of interested in seeing a chart.

      • I do not have a chart of my progress. I was mainly using the charts produced by Brain Age. If I repeat the experiment I will do what I can to make a chart, graph, or plot.

      • Also, how the hell do numbers increase from 2,4,8,16,32,64 . . . to 0? If you can explain this so it will only partially blow my mind that would be appreciated. Please explain math responsibly.

  2. This is a fascinating little experiment you’re doing. I suppose that memory staying constant while your mental work ability goes down isn’t all that surprising. Good luck on your odyssey in sleeplessness.

    -Peace

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