Sunday, January 15, 2012

Train the brain (or the body) first?

Lessac's dictum, Train the body first!, is about as close to a HICP battle cry as it gets. The popular, game-based brain training company, Lumosity, provides a wide range of "disembodied" computer-based games and training programs that aim at strengthening five areas: memory, attention, speed, flexibility and problem solving. For some learners, especially in academic and business settings, the games appear to be quite effective in doing what they claim. (I have only tried a few introductory games, read the testimonials, studied the website and research studies supporting their "products.") Fair to say, as they claim, that to evaluate the real efficacy of the games, one needs to practice them regularly, probably for at least a month's time.

That aside, I found the list of key concepts (linked above) to be a fascinating "rubric" for evaluating the general cognitive impact or secondary goals of any system, such as EHIEP. In other words, in addition to teaching the pronunciation of the language, what conditions are set up to facilitate that and what other capacities are naturally enhanced by practicing and learning with that system? That list includes: adaptivity, cognitive reserve [encouraging resilience], completeness, engagement, fluid intelligence [thinking outside the box], neuroplasticity [ability to develop new neural pathways, regardless of age],  novelty, processing speed, targeting and [availability of] working memory for the tasks. HICP instruction probably enhances the ones in italics. I intend to review the inventory of Lumosity games and see which might be especially good for enhancing HICP work. Will report back later. If you are game . . . join me!

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