How Categorization Could Be the Key to Applying Brain Training to Real Life •

While there are many apps and games that claim to make you smarter, scientifically speaking, all of these apps make you good at that specific game.

Transferring these skills to real-world problem-solving is a whole different matter, and it is such a frustrating problem for cognition researchers that it even has a catchy name, “the curse of specificity.”

In other words, even if you’re remarkably good at a brain training memory game, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be better at remembering what to buy at the store.

But now, researchers of Brunette college may have found a way to transfer the learning of an activity to the real world.

Their conclusions were published in the journal Current biology.

“This challenge of transferring improvements on simple and specific cognitive tasks to complex daily tasks has been called the ‘curse of specificity’,” said Takeo Watanabe, author of the study.

For cognitive scientists like Watanabe, this curse poses a problem when trying to apply promising study results to patients to help. improve cognition.

For the new study, the researchers focused on learning visual perception where neurons in the visual part of the brain are busy processing characteristics of an object so that the object can be identified later.

The researchers involved 12 participants who were graduate or undergraduate students in a categorization experiment.

“Categorization is the process the brain uses to determine whether, for example, an image is a snake or a stick, and it usually occurs in an upper brain region,” said Yuka Sasaki, co-author of the study. . “Doing categorization before visual perceptual learning tasks was a simple idea, but the effect of the transfer at this level is huge. “

Participants first learned to classify the fuzzy striped circles called Gabor patches into two groups based on the angle of the stripes in the circle.

Over the next five days, participants practiced identifying and categorizing Gabor patches.

Next, the researchers tested the participants’ categorization abilities and their ability to recognize patches with angles they had practiced on and patches with angles of the same category.

Unsurprisingly, participants improved the recognition of the patches they had been training with the most, but the researchers also found that there was some transfer of learning as participants improved in identification. Gabor patches from the same category.

“Usually the learning is very specific, but the categorization – which often occurs in our daily life – can make the transfer possible,” Sasaki said. “We believe this discovery could be particularly useful for clinical purposes. You will not have to train patients on all possible combinations of stimuli.

Next, the researchers would like to continue to explore how categorization helps transfer learning by using magnetic resonance imaging to record brain activity when participants participate in visual perception learning training.

Through Kay vandette, Editor-in-chief

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