24 May 2014 – Lumosity

Before I get to the topic for today I want to say that Teresa and I had a wonderful birthday couple of days. The Lodge at Torrey Pines was great, with beautiful views during the day, followed by a delicious birthday dinner.  That night we walked on the paths of the golf course where pedestrians are not allowed during the day.  The next day at San Diego Zoo Safari Park we had a fine time also. We got to the park a little late, so the only show we were able to watch was the Cheetah Run where they had 100 yard course set up and dragged a lure to entice the cheetah to run at 70 mph.

A number of years ago Teresa and I were invited to the research part of the park where a friend of ours was doing research on the breeding of cheetahs, which had been unsuccessful up to that point. We were allowed to go right to the enclosure and pet the cheetahs through the fence which was a treat for us, and apparently for the cheetahs as well. What was interesting was that we were suddenly told to move away from the fence, the reason being that some children had arrived at the breeding station, and since they were “prey-sized”, it altered the mood of the cheetahs significantly and it was no longer safe to pet the cats.

Seeing the cheetah chasing the lure reminded me that I had worked on a lure system for the cats for my friend, but we never built it. It would’ve been a triangular system with three automobile wheels, more complicated than what they are using now, which is simply an enticing looking bundle of rags on a rope dragged for 100 yards in a straight line.

Now we come to Lumosity. It’s a brain exercising system in which you play five games a day involving various mental skills. There is a wide variety of games that can come up each day, so the challenge is always different. The skills involve sequence discrimination, logic, mathematics, eye-hand coordination, words, perception speed, memory, and others. At first it was relatively easy to keep my score improving, but as the games progressed it became more difficult, and now I really have to concentrate to do well. It gets intense. It allows you to compare your score with other age groups and Lumosity is telling me that my score is at about the median of 35 to 39 year-olds. I’m not sure I believe that but it makes me feel good.

You may have noticed I didn’t say “brain training” system, and that is because I’m not sure whether it’s training general capabilities, or just learning how to play games. I actually think it’s both, and I figure there is nothing wrong with that.

I think my favorite game is a train track switching exercise in which you have to set switches to route approaching locomotives to go into barns of the same color as the locomotive. There is never quite enough time to set all the switches correctly as the engines come along, but you have to do your best.

Some games cause the brain to display its amazing capabilities. There is one game where you have to predict where a pool ball will hit the cushion, and to do that you have to remember where some bumpers are set before they disappear. You make your guess, the bumpers reappear, the ball shoots out and you find you either guessed right or wrong. Quite frequently I lose track of where the bumpers were but I take a guess anyway, and amazingly often my guess is correct even though I couldn’t really remember where the bumpers were. The brain knew.

In another game a silhouette of a bird and number are flashed on the screen for a very short time and you supposed to see and remember the number and the location of the bird, which may appear on the screen widely separated from the number. Sometimes I don’t even recall seeing the number and yet I guess right. Amazing.

Try it, you might like it. Lumosity.com.

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