It’s just brain surgery

I started reading a book on Saturday, The Working Memory Advantage by Tracy and Ross Alloway. It’s pretty interesting and right up my alley since I like reading about the brain and how it works. It’s written in a weird style since sometimes the author(s) refer to both of themselves in the same sentence but instead of writing “When Tracy and I started ….” they will write “When Tracy and Ross started …” Which makes it seem like someone else is writing about them, but it’s actually them writing about themselves. Rafal found that style pretty weird, he thought it might grow on him, however it didn’t.

They also promote one of their project a lot which I don’t begrudge them this. I would do it too if I had a successful A and wanted to sell more of B however Rafal can only read about how “Ross’ program raised students grades on average by ten points, that’s like going from a C to a B or from a B to an A.” three times before he thinks that’s a bit too much.

Those two criticism aside it’s a really interesting book on the concept of working memory, how a good working memory is critical to a successful life and how it can be improved.

They often refer to working memory as a conductor since that is mainly what it does. It lives in the prefrontal cortex and conducts thoughts, helps you focus on the important things and ignore the background noises.

There have been studies done that show how a strong conductor improves most facets of people’s lives. Your self-control, your ability to work through complex scenarios, even to a certain degree your happiness.

What I found very interesting was that there is evidence that we can all improve and strengthen or conductor. It seems like a game called dual-N-back and Ross’ programme which “raised students grades on average by ten points, that’s like going from a C to a B or from a B to an A.” Have both had “Near Transfer” and “Far Transfer” effects. There are other ways that help too like exercise (and especially running, bare-foot seems to be even better) and eating the right foods (berries, red meat and others).

• Near transfer: This means that when you improve certain skills in a game, you also improve in closely related areas. Think of it this way—if you do leg lifts for two months and increase the strength in your legs, you will be able to squat a heavier weight. In the same way, if you keep playing a game that trains working memory, you will do better on a working memory test.

• Far transfer: This means that when you train specific skills, you also improve in other areas that are far beyond the skill you trained. For example, if you do leg lifts, you can also sprint much faster. When a working-memory-training program, like Jungle Memory, improves your grades, it is called far transfer

Excerpt From: Tracy Alloway. “The Working Memory Advantage.”

I highly recommend the book if you enjoy reading about the human brain and how it works.

This is an interesting time in the study of the human brain, not so long ago it was believe that once you became an adult you were stuck with the brain you have this was wrong. Neuroplasticity is a concept that interests me a lot. Being able to retrain our monkey brains to greater heights through practice and discipline. It feels almost super human.

Rafal approves.

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