Thursday, October 31, 2013

Getting Lost and Getting Found with Posit Science

Posit Science
Posit Science (Photo credit: jurvetson)
Well, I have been very timely in my ruminations about getting lost (Gives herself a pat on the back!).

Posit Science has just added a module about navigation on their Brain HQ suite of exercises.  These exercises help improve visual spatial skills needed for navigation so, hopefully, I won't get lost as much!

Apparently, there is a lot to navigation.  It relies on higher level cognitive skills such as attention, memory, and perception.  Brain HQ helps navigation by through exercises designed to create and mentally manipulate spatial representations of a scene, remember relative locations of landmarks, and avoid potential hazards on the route.

Improving navigation also has the interesting affect on other skills.  Learning to manipulate information mentally not only improves navigation, it has also been shown to improve mental arithmetic.  If my Gentle Readers remember my results from Cogmed, I was having trouble remembering how to add more than 3 easy numbers in my head.  So, we shall see if this improves my math skills.  I am hoping that by working on visual spatial skills, I will also improve the visual spatial memory exercises in Cogmed that I am having trouble with.

The Navigation module has 4 exercises with many levels to each exercise:  Right Turn,  True North, Mental Map and Optic Flow.  Right Turn improves your ability to mentally rotate images.  You have to decide whether the object is merely turned to the right or left or whether it is flipped. True North exercise helps you to maintain your sense of direction even as your orientation changes.  It shows a train station and gives you a series of directions.  As you get on and off the different platforms, you have to re-orient yourself and figure out where the new "north" or "east" is.  The Mental Map exercise helps you to remember the relative location of objects from different viewpoints.  It involves using many different maps and flipping their orientation.  It is much like right turn only there is a lot more visual information to process.  Finally, there is Optic Flow, an exercise designed to help you follow a route safely by making rapid judgments in a range of driving conditions.  You drive along a route and match various colors on signs while at the same time, you try to avoid obstacles.

So, I start on my exercises and get a whopping 35% baseline on Navigation.  No wonder I get lost!  I suppose this might explain why I am not doing so well with mental arithmetic.  It doesn't explain how I have managed to visit 22 countries or minor in mathematics at an Ivy League University!   What a bundle of contradictions am I!

Well, my Gentle Readers know me.  I start flogging away on my exercises.  I am getting 2 stars out of 5  on Right Turn.  

True North has been a disaster.  I often drop down to one direction (which fortunately I am getting correctly!)  I just cant always orient myself to two directions.   I don't know how I get out of bed in the morning and make it to the kitchen for breakfast!  Just joking.  I am not THAT BADLY OFF!   Until I had my husband sit down and do the exercises with me,  I didn't understand that the trick is to understand sometimes you are changing platforms and need to reorient.  Well, hubby will have to help me out for a while.  Although it did take him two passes at the exercise to understand what was involved and he is visually spatially gifted.

Mental Map has been coming along slowly.  I am getting there.  It seems to be more of the same of Right Turn, only with more information to filter out and different forms to process.

Optic Flow took a few times to understand.  But slowly, I am getting better at that too.

So, we shall see what happens over the course of the next few months whether I get better at Cogmed or I stop getting lost so much.

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