Category Archives: Training

Arcade Driving Game

Training and Generalizability

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I love sharing information like this with you. It irks me when I see all of the lofty promises from companies (that shall remain unnamed, but they advertise so much online that I am sure you know who I am referring to) that their brain training will make you smarter, and solve all of your memory limitations, and turn your kids into the next Einstein. I have shared before the results of studies that show how limited transfer of training is when it comes to cognitive processes. If you practice your working memory span, you can indeed increase your working memory span. But it doesn’t improve anything else, and if you stop practicing you lose the benefits.

One recent study found that older adults could significantly improve their ability to multi-task after playing a specially designed driving video game called NeuroRacer. Another study from researchers at the University of Rochester found that playing action-packed video games improved people’s ability to make quick decisions and ignore distractions.

Fireworks

One Year Anniversary

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In honor of the one year anniversary of EID’s relaunch (check out our first post ever here) under our new format, we thought we would copy an innovative technique used by Ta-Nehisi Coates. In addition to being a brilliant, award winning writer, he is also credited for having one of the best comment management strategies for his blog at The Atlantic magazine. One dimension of his strategy, which seems obvious on the surface but is incredibly rare, is to start with the assumption that some…

Private Keep Out Sign

Fun Example of Associative Learning for a Weekend Smile

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Here is a case of simple associative learning (stimulus to stimulus, with no specific response) that I think will give you a smile for your weekend. Imagine a dog (one of those little terriers about 8 inches tall – something like this one being placed for the first time in a yard with a two inch tall wooden fence. What do you think is the first thing he would do? Perhaps after briefly exploring the local smells, he would wander outside the fence. Walking over a two inch fence would not even be noticed, let alone a deterrent.

Associative learning is the process by which an association between two stimuli or a behavior and a stimulus is learned.

USB Symbol

Confusing Symbols Are All Around Us

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When I saw this article I felt compelled to share. It is a pet peeve of mine but more importantly a constant challenge to good human factors design. The challenge I am referring to is the use of symbols that are designed based on something other than the easy and reliable interpretation by the user. We see a lot of icons every day. From any experience in the app store to pressing play on your Walkman, we interact with them all the time. But a…

Young boy reading

How children learn to read

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I have some mixed feelings about this research, so I thought it would be a great idea to share it with you and get your sage insights on it. Start with this summary in the New Yorker by Maria Konnikova. I read her work all the time – she is a truly excellent psychology writer. And if you want the original study from Psychological Science by Fumiko Hoeft at UCSF, you can get it here if you have access to the journal.

Why is it easy for some people to learn to read, and difficult for others? It’s a tough question with a long history. We know that it’s not just about raw intelligence, nor is it wholly about repetition and dogged persistence. This is the mystery that has animated the work of Fumiko Hoeft, a cognitive neuroscientist and psychiatrist currently at the University of California, San Francisco.

a sign that reads "feedback?"

Confidence in Ignorance

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After listening to David McRaney’s interview of David Dunning about the Dunning-Kruger Effect, I had to go back and read some of the original research on the subject. It fits into the standard model of decision making heuristics that many of you will be familiar with, but this is a pretty extreme example. The basic idea of the Dunning-Kruger Effect is that when you are completely ignorant about a subject, you don’t notice the feedback that tells you that you are wrong because you are looking at the wrong cues…

an empty witness stand

Tunnel Vision Memories

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A recent study in Learning & Memory has some important implications for human factors practitioners. What they found probably won’t surprise you, but might not be something you have considered before.

Most theories of memory assume that representations are strengthened with repetition. We recently proposed Competitive Trace Theory, building on the hippocampus’ powerful capacity to orthogonalize inputs into distinct outputs.

a silhouette of a person with gears in the brain

Priming Mindsets for Learning

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I have talked before about inexpensive ways to increase learning (here and here). Here is another example for you. I am sure many of you are familiar with Carol Dweck’s wonderful work on mindsets. Brainpickings has one of the best summaries of her work.

One of the most basic beliefs we carry about ourselves, Dweck found in her research, has to do with how we view and inhabit what we consider to be our personality.

a fancy lecture hall

Classroom Design

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This is a very disheartening article. Sapna Cheryan at the University of Washington has spent the past several years looking at the design of classrooms and has found them inadequate for learning. All the way from kindergarten to university. There are many different deficiencies to choose from, but many of them are related to human factors and ergonomics issues. She has a TEDx talk here

a machine to score scantron forms

Student Evaluations of Teaching

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The typical student evaluations that occur in most college courses at the end of the semester are intended to be used as part of the professor’s performance appraisal. The instructions clearly state that students should not consider factors such as the contents of the course, the time classes are held, or how much they like the professor personally. And yet the validity of these instruments often falls down on the job…