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Online Test Measures Speed of your Brain 256

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the new-kind-of-quick-draw dept.
KingSkippus writes "According to CNet, a company named Posit Science has produced an online test using Flash that uses sounds to measure the speed of your brain down to the millisecond. According to the company, the test 'measures auditory processing (listening) speed—one of many measures of brain function...The faster we can take in information accurately, the better we can keep up with, respond to and remember what we hear.'"
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Online Test Measures Speed of your Brain

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  • by XanC (644172) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:38PM (#14994934)
    We who use 64-bit browsers already know we're smart! We don't need (and can't use) this test.

    I still can't decide if the absence of 64-bit Flash is a blessing or a curse...

  • Problems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:38PM (#14994936) Homepage Journal
    Problem: The linked test only works with Windows...... So, never mind.

    Seriously though, this title is in a way, kinda bogus science in that it does not measure brain speed per se, but is more a measure of efficiency (a subtle but important difference). Basic central auditory response curves should be identical for most folks unless there is a processing delay like a developmental abnormality in one of the auditory nuclei or unless there is some pathology like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) which could bias the test and not be indicative of cognitive performance. Also, this test could be biased by damage to the cochlear hair cells that reduce ones frequency perception, but this apparent deficiency would have no real bearing on "brain speed" either.

    If they are using this test to determine cognitive impairments such as Alzheimer's Disease, they should have some disclaimers present that explicitly point out that even mild hearing loss could compromise the results of this study among other causes.

    And yes..... IAANS (I Am A NeuroScientist).

    And it also appears that the author of the software is trying to sell it to "help people reduce the effects of aging", to which I say pffffft! Just stay physically and mentally active. Go running/walking/swimming/riding a bike and read books or hell, for your brain and auditory processing, even play video games (just make sure you get the physical exercise too and please continue to read books/newspapers). All of that is lots cheaper than forking out $500 for this software and likely more effective?

    • Re:Problems (Score:2, Informative)

      by blakestah (91866)
      I may be uniquely qualified to comment on this, as I spent the last decade of my life, until last October, working closely with Dr. Merzenich on issues of how the brain is altered by reinforced behaviors, and know the details of the testing that has, so far, gone into their program to address age-related cognitive decline.

      First, let's clear up any thought this would address Alzheimer's. It has nothing to do with neurofibrillary tangles and plaques that define Alzheimers.

      What has been done so far, is to demo
      • Re:Problems (Score:3, Informative)

        by BWJones (18351) *
        I may be uniquely qualified to comment on this, as I spent the last decade of my life, until last October, working closely with Dr. Merzenich on issues of how the brain is altered by reinforced behaviors, and know the details of the testing that has, so far, gone into their program to address age-related cognitive decline.

        I love it. We need more scientists on Slashdot. Seriously.

        First, let's clear up any thought this would address Alzheimer's. It has nothing to do with neurofibrillary tangles and plaques
        • No, not the cellular/molecular pathology per se, but the cognitive decline in Alzheimer's is of interest, yes? From the website: "Early-Stage Alzheimer's Disease: We are conducting a pilot study with UCSF in early-stage Alzheimer's disease. This study is currently enrolling participants through the UCSF Memory and Aging Center."

          Its a bit of muddle. Early stage Alzheimer's is not so diagnosable today. You can't see Ab plaques or tangles. However, good diagnostic tests will be available soon, in several forms
        • Re:Problems (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Oxen (879661)
          I have no doubt. The brain, just like any biological system, gets "better" with use/reinforcement.

          Funny, my liver seems to get worse every weekend.
    • Mouse use speed? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by eMartin (210973) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @09:41PM (#14995887)
      Why would this require using a mouse to click on two icons placed next to each other when that takes time itself?

      Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to map the input to two keys on a keyboard?

      I have to wonder about the validity of any kind of intelligence test that lacks common sense like that. Well, that and has the spelling mistakes that others noted.

      Or maybe I'm just upset that I got a 49.
      • The time it takes you to click does not modify the time. I got 22.
        • Hah, 20ms here, with an extra clicking noise from the sound card everytime a sound was played for added distraction.

          I ween, I ween! :)

          • Bummer. I thought I was good at 31, since their "top performers" were shown at 32. Of course, I got tired of the test near the end and made several mistakes....and on one of the tests I didn't hear anything!
          • I managed an 87 (down from 100).

            It's official...

            I'm clinically retarded.

            On the bright side, I think I qualify for better parking.

            I'll probably try it again later... I'm just a bit exhausted right now and I keep making mistakes.
          • I heard the clicking noise a few times, too, but I assume that is due to defects in my computer, or my Internet connection. Sometimes, signals get cut off along the way, you know, and that's the sort of thing you hear when they do.

            The computer I used for this test tends to do a core dump if I download a lot of data at one time (e.g., large photo files, streaming video, switching between too many Web browser windows in too short a time, etc.).

            I got 50 milliseconds on the test. That's a bit odd, considering t
            • I went over to my shiny new Dell e510 and retook the test. I got exactly the same score the second time; 50 milliseconds. Again, I kept confusing up and down.
      • by AlterTick (665659) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @10:11PM (#14995973)
        Why would this require using a mouse to click on two icons placed next to each other when that takes time itself? Wouldn't it make a lot more sense to map the input to two keys on a keyboard? I have to wonder about the validity of any kind of intelligence test that lacks common sense like that.

        Well, first, it's not an intelligence test, but a test of auditory processing speed; and second, it doesn't matter how fast you click the arrows, only whether you click them in the correct order. Did you even read the instructions?

        Anyway, I question the seriousness of a test that's clearly there as a marketing aid for some dubious $500 "Brain Fitness" training software. Also, the fact that the best score they have recorded on their graph for ANY age group was 32, and I, a 37 year old Army vet with permanent "artillery ear" tinnitus, got 23.

    • My closest claim to fame was involvement in AMS research at Darebury Laboratory that was looking at the aluminium levels of Alzeimer sufferers. I also had very peripheral involvement in the research into the use of desfereoxamine in treating people suffering from aluminium toxicity (it can cause brittle bones, limit oxygen uptake, etc).

      However, that is neither here nor there. This is about how to measure the speed of the brain and improve it.

      First off, improving the brain is somewhat of a Black Art. There a

    • Being totally addicted to bass (inside reference), having had huge car soundsystems since 15 (yes, before I could even drive), and raving all night literally hundreds of times, I have noticeable (but not severe) hearing loss and slight tinitus. I got 17ms.

      That's what the volume control is for. Changing the amplitude is not going to change the relative pitch of two sounds played at the same volume.
  • What a joke (Score:5, Informative)

    by gooberguy (453295) <gooberguy@gmail.com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:41PM (#14994945)
    First, their test only works on windows systems. Secondly, it's just a ploy to get you to buy their stupid software for the low low price of $500.
  • deaf people must be pretty lot in this guy's IQ scale....
  • What if I'm smart enough to instantly recognize that this test is bogus?
  • Flash Applications (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I'd be curious if someone were to download and review the function calls in their little "flash helper" application. Once you agree to that installation the program can do anything on your computer that you can. Highly suspicious.
  • OMG (Score:5, Interesting)

    by irimi_00 (962766) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:52PM (#14994994)
    OMG this makes me feel so stupid and incomptetant.

    Go here [harvard.edu] to find out what a big racist, jingoist, judgemental biggot you are:
    https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/ [harvard.edu]

    • that test fails to account for the fact that people get better at a task over time. it's results will be to show what the designers wanted to prove, that people are better at sorting old and bad vs young and good, but the results will be meaningless because it is a junk study
  • by gmerideth (107286) <gmerideth@@@uclnj...com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:53PM (#14994998) Homepage
    The flash component required to view "provides spacfic sounds" so the brain test didn't get past the spelling test before I cancelled it.
  • by Cheesewhiz (61745) <[moc.cam] [ta] [pnai]> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:56PM (#14995006) Homepage
    "We're Sorry. The current version of the Brain Speed Test is only available for Windows based computers. We are working a version that is compatible with Mac's."

    DAMNIT! Why can't I get some friggin' SUPPORT here, people?!? It's the same lame excuse every time -- brain tests, operating systems, popular gaming titles, girlfriends: "Sorry...not compatible."

    You know what, FINE! Keep your silly brain test... I'm going to go spend some quality time with my Mac, playing Breakout...

    -c

    • DAMNIT! Why can't I get some friggin' SUPPORT here, people?!?
      That's what Mac said when he encountered the website. Later Mac noticed that he doesn't even have a computer and went on a killing-spree. Let's all feel pity for Mac.

      Poor Mac :-(
    • I'm going to go spend some quality time with my Mac, playing Breakout.

      Ok, who's going to tell him that he actually has an iPod?

    • You're not compatible with your girlfriends? Those might not be girls that you're dating...not that there's anything wrong with that--I'm just letting you know.
  • Spacific? (Score:4, Funny)

    by entrylevel (559061) <jaundoh@yahoo.com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:57PM (#14995008)
    The Shockwave application wanted to install a component so that my computer could "generate spacific sounds"... Anyone trying to sell me a brain tester damn well better be able to spell "specific".
    • No, they didn't misspell anything. They needed to use Macromedia Flash to generate space-ific sounds.

      The fact that you don't know their sciamatific words just proves that they have bigger brains than you.

      -
  • by stungod (137601) <scott@@@globalspynetwork...com> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @05:57PM (#14995014) Journal
    So my score was 27ms. I guess that ain't a bad speed for a 37-year-old.

    So does this mean that I am smart, or that I'm just dumb faster? Really, I think I would rather take a little longer to be more correct. It seems that there's plenty of historical evidence to show that the smart people aren't always the first to come up with an answer to a problem.

    I guess if I was interested in buying whatevr it is that this guy is selling the I could figure it out. But according to the results of his test, I already have a faster brain than just about everybody. All I need is sharks with freakin' laser beams and I could take over the world!

    Then again, maybe I should drink less coffee...
    • by Sebastopol (189276) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:08PM (#14995055) Homepage
      Four of my friends took it and we all got 27!!!

      Something smells rotten in Denmark...
      • Sounds like a latency issue. Maybe 27 ms is the fastest it is capable of recording.

        Have a USB mouse/keyboard? USB has latency to it, which is why many higher end audio interfaces either shy away from using it, or have 'zero latency' monitoring features (basically analog passthroughs for real time recording). I don't remember the specific amount, but it is more than 10 ms just for data to pass through the USB bus itself IIR. That on top of any latency in your host environment.
      • I actually got a 19. I had a two guesses (one wrong) where it actually made no sound at all because it was trying to play too fast. It seems to keep speeding up until your error rate hits some threshold.

        I was just proud to get half at time of the "top performers". Yay. You would think they would skew the scores the other way to get old people to buy their crap. Or maybe it's skewed this way (I am in the youngest age bracket) to make old people who compare their scores with their kid's (or grandkid's) s
        • actually got a 19. I had a two guesses (one wrong) where it actually made no sound at all because it was trying to play too fast. It seems to keep speeding up until your error rate hits some threshold. I was just proud to get half at time of the "top performers". Yay. You would think they would skew the scores the other way to get old people to buy their crap. Or maybe it's skewed this way (I am in the youngest age bracket) to make old people who compare their scores with their kid's (or grandkid's) score
    • by adolfojp (730818) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:20PM (#14995107)
      I got a 27 also. This raises some suspicions.
    • by arrrrg (902404) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:25PM (#14995122)
      So does this mean that I am smart, or that I'm just dumb faster?

      Offtopic, but hilarious nonetheless:

      Max Power (Homer): Kids, there's three ways to do things. The right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way!
      Bart: Isn't that the wrong way?
      Max Power: Yeah, but faster! (Max runs into a cactus)
    • I got 27ms as well!
    • The test seems to not have very good resolution at the low end. It's almost discrete, with scores > 30 ms, 27 ms, and then 16 ms. Oh, and by the way, it couldn't even get through the training in Firefox. Either the Firefox Shockwave plugin has bugs, or the software is incompatible with Firefox/WinXP. But it's obvious they never tested that. When I finally, reluctantly, opened Internet Explorer, it worked fine.

      "Your score is 16 milliseconds
      in auditory processing speed"

      Actually, the lowest duration t

  • So, erm, is Slashdot getting some of the old filthy lucre for posting bogus crud like this, so obviously in the same league as "test your IQ", albiet slightly more disguised.

    Besides, the speed of my brain is the same speed as my body, my mind, however, is another story.

    Time for another cold one ...
    • I have always considered the mind to be a byproduct of the brain. What is my proof? If you have brain damage your mind will not be as sharp. If your brain chemicals are not balanced, you will be kind of crazy.
  • by Cheesewhiz (61745) <[moc.cam] [ta] [pnai]> on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:05PM (#14995038) Homepage
    Error Message from Site: We're Sorry. The current version of the Brain Speed Test is only available for Windows based computers.

    If anyone was wondering why the average test score seemed a little on the LOW side...

  • Looks like a scam (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jerald_hams (725369) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:05PM (#14995040) Journal
    The company claims that their exercises improves...(ugh) your speed of thinking. Gods, that's horrible bunk. They don't actually show that repeatedly taking their tests improves anything but your performance on those specific tests. There's no research behind this, just a scam to take advantage of the elderly with baseless promises of preserving your aging brain's cognitive abilities.
  • Article is wrong... (Score:2, Informative)

    by dcapel (913969)
    It uses shockwave, not flash. Ergo, it is windows only. :/
  • Score (Score:3, Informative)

    by airjrdn (681898) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:09PM (#14995063) Homepage
    I'm 36, and scored 27ms.
  • old ... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Lazy Jones (8403) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:10PM (#14995064) Homepage Journal
    a friend of mine wrote this [epij.org] a long time ago, it measures your reflexes too (and doesn't require some stupid windows software)
    • That nasty thing's giving me huge differences in my times and accuracies depending on which keys and hands I'm using. Three left hand fingers on 123 are score suicide.

      It seems to be more a test of one's affinity to the input method than a test of reflexes.
  • It must be all the loud music I've listened to over the years.
  • The web site tries to install executable code, in the form of a plug-in to Shockwave. Their own private plug-in, too, not one of Macromedia's. That's suspicious. They shouldn't need to do that for their little "test". It's a big plug-in, too. Even more suspicious.

    I've seen a few sites lately trying to install code via Shockwave. Since everybody with a clue has Active-X turned off, this may be the new attack vector.

  • by Sir Pallas (696783) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:25PM (#14995125) Homepage
    1.) Tell people they might be stupid.
    2.) Give them a test that you invented that proves it.
    3.) No question here: you happen to sell the solution!
    4.) Profit!
    • by Indras (515472) * on Sunday March 26, 2006 @04:35AM (#14996961)
      The scary thing is, this is exactly how the Church of Scientology recruits. They administer a free "Personality Test" to anyone who wants to take it. The test results ALWAYS have some "critical" flaw that is causing you to be unstable. If you don't fix it right away, you might just go insane. Fortunately, the Church has a remedy for your mental disease, if you just sign up for one of our free classes...
  • Hmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by Draconix (653959) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:28PM (#14995146)
    We're Sorry

    The current version of the Brain Speed Test is only available for Windows based computers. We are working a version that is compatible with Mac's.

    Wow! Their brains are so fast they skipped over learning how to pluralize!
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Saturday March 25, 2006 @06:29PM (#14995151)
    it measures the speed of electronic funds transfer, if you're foolish enough to actually buy that program.



  • I guess they figured the only time the speed of your brain is in question is when you've been waiting over 5 years for something like OSX [apple.com] to show up from Microsoft.


  • In your 20s, the average speed of auditory processing is 68 milliseconds. That number jumps to an average of 87 milliseconds in your 40s and 106 milliseconds in your 60s.

    Ignoring for the moment whether the test is an accurate measurement... let's say it is. I wonder if this age discrepancy is because people slow down as they get older, or is it because people born and raised in a slower paced world are slower their whole lives? In other words, will the 20 year old of today degrade over the next 40 years?
  • ....oh wait, I'm on earthlink dial up....and not running windows....
  • Bah! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Godji (957148)
    WTF?! The latency ( != speed ) of a certain brain subsystem is NOT brain speed. Why? Because, as far as I know, brain speed is not defined! That's like measuring computer speed: you could measure the performance of the computer/brain at a given task but that says nothing about its performance on a different task. What is computer speed? The frequency of the CPU, the efficiency of the CPU, the input/output throughput, or the RAM latency? The same problem holds for defining brain speed as well.

    Besides, be
  • Since my artsd (set on high priority, can you tell i'm using KDE?) lag with 1.5 second sound delay on wine IE6 w/ flash shockwave installed using Fedora Core 4 (kernel 2.6.15-1.1833_FC4smp) with mtrr register for nVidia 256M, I have scored only my mother can be proud of.

    I am an idiot...
  • and i'm hungover as well.... VERY hungover - split a fifth of patron with a buddy last night. I'm going to retake it tomorrow
  • There were a few times when I was thinking about something else, and was not sure if I actually clicked on the arrows. Should be an indicator and undo: unless they think that people are going to do the test seriously and take their time. (This is only relivant to the double twits).
  • He's still waiting for the results...

  • Is there a reason to use it over flash anymore?
    • "According to CNet, a company named Posit Science has produced an online test using Flash that uses sounds to measure the speed of your brain down to the millisecond"
       
      I thought this was hilarious simply because I'm aware of latency to the soundcard due to buffering for mixing output, etc. and it varies on machines by hundreds of milliseconds.

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