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大脑训练可以提高智商?

The Brain Trainers
大脑训练可以提高智商?

IN the back room of a suburban storefront previously occupied by a yoga studio, Nick Vecchiarello, a 16-year-old from Glen Ridge, N.J., sits at a desk across from Kathryn Duch, a recent college graduate who wears a black shirt emblazoned with the words “Brain Trainer.” Spread out on the desk are a dozen playing cards showing symbols of varying colors, shapes and sizes. Nick stares down, searching for three cards whose symbols match.

在郊区一家曾用作瑜伽房的商店后屋,来自于新泽西州格伦里奇16岁的尼克·维奇雷洛(Nick Vecchiarello)坐在桌子前面,对面坐着刚从大学毕业的凯斯伦·达奇(Kathryn Duch)。凯斯伦穿着一件黑色的衬衣,上面印着“大脑培训师”的字样。桌子上摆放着数十张牌,上面画着不同颜色、形状和大小的符号。尼克盯着这些牌,寻找着三张具有相同符号的牌。

“Do you see it?” Ms. Duch asks encouragingly.

“找到了吗?”达奇女士充满鼓励地问道。

“Oh, man,” mutters Nick, his eyes shifting among the cards, looking for patterns.

“哦,好家伙”,尼克默念着,他的目光在牌中移动着,寻找相同图案。
 

在新泽西州的北蒙特克莱LearningRx机构所进行的这项训练中,一位学员在按节拍器的节奏来抛袋子,与此同时进行加法计算或复述一句话,每抛一次说一个单词。

Across the room, Nathan Veloric, 23, studies a list of numbers, looking for any two in a row that add up to nine. With tight-lipped determination, he scrawls a circle around one pair as his trainer holds a stopwatch to time him. Halfway through the 50 seconds allotted to complete the exercise, a ruckus comes from the center of the room.

在屋子的另一边,23岁的内森·维罗瑞克(Nathan Veloric)正在研究一组数字,寻找一排中任意两个可以相加得9的数字。嘴唇紧闭、全神贯注的他在一组数字上画了一个圈,他的培训师则拿着一块秒表给他计时。这个为时50秒钟的测试刚进行到了一半,屋中央便传来了一阵喧闹声。

“Nathan’s here!” shouts Vanessa Maia, another trainer. Approaching him with a teasing grin, she claps her hands like an annoying little sister. “Distraction!” she shouts. “Distraction!”

“内森来了啊!”另一位培训师瓦内萨·迈亚(Vanessa Maia)喊道。带着调侃的笑容,她来到了内森身旁,而且像一个不经事的小妹妹一样拍着手。“干扰”,她喊道,“干扰”。

There is purpose behind the silliness. Ms. Maia is challenging the trainees to stay focused on their tasks in the face of whatever distractions may be out there, whether Twitter feeds, the latest Tumblr posting or old-fashioned classroom commotion.

这一荒唐的举动是有目的的。迈亚女士正在考验学员抗干扰的能力,她希望学员们在面临各种干扰的情况下依然能专注于自己的任务,无论干扰是来自于Twitter新闻订阅、轻博客(Tumblr)更新或传统的课堂喧闹。

On this Wednesday evening at the Upper Montclair, N.J., outlet of LearningRx, a chain of 83 “brain training” franchises across the United States, the goal is to improve cognitive skills. LearningRx is one of a growing number of such commercial services — some online, others offered by psychologists. Unlike traditional tutoring services that seek to help students master a subject, brain training purports to enhance comprehension and the ability to analyze and mentally manipulate concepts, images, sounds and instructions. In a word, it seeks to make students smarter.

这是周三晚上在新泽西州的北蒙特克莱LearningRx机构所进行的培训。LearningRx是遍布全美的 “大脑培训”(brain training)特许经营连锁机构,共有83家,其目标是帮助学员改善认知能力。提供类似商业服务的机构数量在不断增长,它们有些是在线的,有些是由心理学家主导的,LearningRx只是其中之一。传统的家教服务是帮助学生精通某一科目,而大脑培训机构则不同,它旨在提高学员的理解力、分析能力以及大脑接受概念、形象、声音和指令的能力。总之,就是让学生变得更聪明。

“We measure every student pre- and post-training with a version of the Woodcock-Johnson general intelligence test,” said Ken Gibson, who began franchising LearningRx centers in 2003, and has data on more than 30,000 of the nearly 50,000 students who have been trained. “The average gain on I.Q. is 15 points after 24 weeks of training, and 20 points in less than 32 weeks.”

LearningRx中心于2003年开始发展特许加盟学校,掌握了近5万多名受训学员中3万多名学员的数据,中心的肯·吉普森(Ken Gibson)表示:“我们会利用Woodcock-Johnson通用智力测试来测量每个学员学前和学后的变化。在24周的培训之后,学员智商平均可增长15分,而在不到32周的培训之后,这一增幅上升为20分。”

The three other large cognitive training services — Lumosity, Cogmed and Posit Science — dance around the question of whether they truly raise I.Q. but do assert that they improve cognitive performance.

其他三家大型的认知培训服务提供商——Lumosity、Cogmed和Posit Science——没有正面回答这一举措是否真的能提高智商这一问题,但他们确信培训能改善认知能力。

“Your brain, just brighter,” is the slogan of Lumosity, an online company that now has some 25 million registered members. According to its Web site, “Our users have reported profound benefits that include: clearer and quicker thinking; faster problem-solving skills; increased alertness and awareness; better concentration at work or while driving; sharper memory for names, numbers and directions.”

Lumosity的口号是“头脑更聪明”,这家在线公司目前拥有约2500万注册会员。据该网站称,“学员们说培训带来的综合效果包括:更加清晰、敏捷的思考;解决问题的速度加快;警觉和认知力得到提高;工作或驾驶的注意力得到提高;对姓名、数字和方向的记忆力变得更好。”

Those results are achieved, the companies say, by repurposing cognitive tasks initially developed by psychologists as tests of mental abilities. With technical names like the antisaccade, the N-back and the complex working memory span task, the exercises are dressed up as games that become increasingly difficult as students gain mastery.

公司称,它们运用了心理学家起初用于衡量思维能力的认知测试,并对其进行了改编,因此能取得这些成果。这些培训内容会使用诸如眼跳任务、N-back测试和复杂的工作记忆广度测试等专业方法,并以游戏的形式出现,其难度会随着学员的进阶而加大。

Conceived to appeal to adults, especially baby boomers looking to stanch the effects of aging, Lumosity now draws one-quarter of its audience from students between the ages of 11 and 21, according to Michael Scanlon, the company’s scientific director. “I was taken aback that so much of our user base is so young,” he said. “The particular audience I had in mind at the earliest stages of the company was my mother.” In response to requests from schoolteachers, the fee is now waived — $15 a month — for students in their classrooms. More than 1,000 teachers and 10,000 students have enrolled this year, Mr. Scanlon said.

Lumosity科学总监迈克·斯坎伦(Michael Scanlon)表示,这一项目的初衷是针对成年人,尤其是婴儿潮时代出生的人,因为他们希望能减轻岁月对智力的影响。但是,Lumosity目前四分之一的学员都是11~21岁的学生。他说,“我们的学员中竟有如此多的人是年轻人,这让我大吃一惊。根据我的设想,接受培训最年轻的人应该跟我的母亲年纪差不多。”在学校教师的要求下,针对在校学生的培训价格有所下降——15美元一个月。斯坎伦说,1000多名教师和1万多名学生于今年加入了这一项目。

For the one-on-one training at LearningRx, fees are decidedly higher, from about $80 to $90 an hour in Upper Montclair. The students come with learning disabilities, with grades they want to improve in a competitive academic environment, all with hopes of just being sharper.

LearningRx一对一式的培训费用毫无疑问要高出很多,在北蒙特克莱一小时的收费约为80~90美元。这些学生有的存在学习障碍,有的则希望在充满竞争的学术环境中提高自己的成绩,所有的学生都希望变得更聪明。

TAYLOR WEBSTER, 16, trains daily for lacrosse with a personal coach. “She has natural athletic ability,” said her mother, Samantha Newman-Webster. “But it’s really through her training that she has been able to achieve to the point where she’s being sought out by college recruiters.” Would brain training, the family wondered, do for her grades what physical training did for her lacrosse game?

16岁的泰勒·韦伯斯特(Taylor Webster)每天都会跟私人教练学曲棍球。她母亲萨曼莎·纽曼-韦伯斯特(Samantha Newman-Webster)说,“她有运动天赋。但正是通过训练,她才获得了大学招生人员的青睐。”她的家人在想,既然体能培训帮助她提高了曲棍球技术,那么大脑培训是否也能帮她提高学习成绩呢?

Ms. Newman-Webster enrolled Taylor, already a B student at the private Montclair Kimberley Academy, at LearningRx in February. “I felt like I wanted to do whatever I could to make her learning easier, faster, deeper,” she said. “I knew she was going to be taking the SATs, and they say it will improve whatever you’re trying to do.”

纽曼-韦伯斯特女士2月份在LearningRx为泰勒报了名。泰勒目前就读于私立蒙特克莱金伯利学院(Montclair Kimberley Academy)。纽曼女士说,“只要能让她能学得更轻松、更快、更扎实,我觉得我可以付出一切。我知道她将参加SAT考试,而且LearningRx说培训对女儿从事的一切活动都有所帮助。”

Speaking by cellphone on the way to a lacrosse game, Taylor explained, with a laugh, what it’s like: “In the beginning your head is sore. Honestly, I had headaches after going there the first few times. It was kind of tedious and made my brain hurt. But I started getting better and better at it. It kind of became a competition for me to do better each time.”

在参加曲棍球比赛的路上,泰勒笑着通过手机向记者描述了培训的情况:“一开始你的大脑会缺氧。老实说,头几次培训之后我的头会疼。培训很乏味,而且脑袋也不好受。但是情况越来越好。对于我来说,这已经成了一种比赛,而且每次我都想做得更好。”

She’s now studying for the SAT. “It used to take me an hour to memorize 20 words. Now I can learn, like, 40 new words in 20 minutes.”

她现在正在备战SAT。“之前我记20个单词可能得花一个小时的时间。但是我现在可以在20分钟内记40个新单词。”

Others — a majority, according to LearningRx — seek cognitive training in the hopes of remediating a learning disability.

其他人——据LearningRx称,多数学员——都希望通过认知培训来治疗学习障碍。

Nathan Veloric had learning issues since elementary school. Last December, he had just graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in communications when his mother heard about LearningRx from a business networking group. His goal was to build up skills. “I’ve got to keep on bettering myself,” said Mr. Veloric, whose first job out of college is as a part-time cashier at a CVS near his home in New Providence, N.J. “I’m happy to have a job in this economy. While looking for something better I’m working my way up at CVS — I’m trying to go full time and then get into their management training program.”

自小学开始,内森·维罗瑞克(Nathan Veloric)就存在学习障碍。去年12月,他刚刚从帕特森大学(William Paterson University)毕业,拿到了传播专业的文凭。那时,他的母亲从一个商业交流小组中得知了LearningRx机构。他的目标是提高自己的技能。维罗瑞克说,“我得不停地鞭策自己。”他毕业后的第一份工作是在新泽西州新普罗维登斯的一家CVS连锁药店做兼职收银员,这家店就在他家附近。“我非常高兴能在当前这个经济环境下找到工作。在寻找更好的工作机会的同时,我正准备向CVS高层进军——我正在争取取得全职工作并进入他们的管理层培训项目。”

Of his brain training, he said, “I don’t know if it makes you smarter. But when you get to each new level on the math and reading tasks, it definitely builds up your self-confidence.”

关于大脑培训,他说,“我不知道它能否让人变聪明。但是每当你在数学和阅读任务当中达到了一个新的水平,你的确会感到更自信。”

Nick Vecchiarello struggles with attention deficit disorder. “During middle school we had every kind of tutor known to man,” said his mother, Diane. “Name it, we’ve done it” — stimulant medication, sessions with a psychologist. “He never liked anything to do with education.” A brochure from LearningRx showed up in the mail, and the scientific aura around the program impressed the Vecchiarellos. They decided to spend $12,000 for a year of visits, one to three times a week.

尼克·维奇雷洛(Nick Vecchiarello)患有注意缺失紊乱症。他的母亲戴安(Diane)说,“在他念中学的时候,我们为他请了各种各样的家教。什么样的办法都试过。”——包括兴奋类药物以及看心理医生。“他就是不喜欢上学。”她收到了LearningRx邮过来的小册子,项目的科学氛围给维奇雷洛留下了深刻的印象。他们决定每年花费1.2万美元来进行培训,一周一到三次。

“It has been a financial strain,” acknowledged Nick’s father, Richard, a fifth-grade teacher in nearby Fair Lawn. “Yes, I think it’s made a change in Nick. His grades are better. If it gives him a leg up on life, you can’t put a price on that.” In September, after six months, Nick and his parents decided he had made enough progress to stop his medication.

尼克的父亲理查德(Richard)承认,“这为家里带来了财政压力。是的,我觉得它改变了尼克。他的成绩好多了。如果培训给他的生活带来了帮助,那么这就是无价的。”尼克的父亲是附近费尔劳恩市学校五年级教师。9月,在接受培训半年后,尼克和他的父母决定停止用药,因为尼克已经取得了足够的进步。

For all the glowing testimonials, there are postings to be found online from parents of children with learning disabilities, complaining about substantial fees and minimal benefit.

尽管存在这些光鲜的证明,但网络上仍有家长抱怨费用太高而且收效甚微,这些父母的孩子也都有学习障碍。

Whether the results last beyond the blush of training — indeed, whether I.Q. can truly be bolstered in a meaningful way — are questions on which serious scientists still disagree. Studies have been published in recent years finding that intelligence can be improved through training, but not enough of them are of sufficient scientific quality to convince everyone in the field.

严谨的科学家们仍在一些问题上存在争议,那就是,在短暂培训后所取得的效果是否会持续——即智商是否会真的会得到有效的改善。近几年所发布的研究表明,智力可以通过培训得到提高,但是这方面高质量的科学研究并不多,因此也就难以让业界的每一个人都信服。

One skeptic is Douglas K. Detterman, professor of psychology at Case Western Reserve University and founding editor of the influential academic journal Intelligence. His research would seem to offer reassurance to college-bound brain trainees, because he has found a close correlation between I.Q. and SAT scores. “All of these tests are pretty much the same thing,” he said. “They measure general intelligence.”

凯斯西储大学(Case Western Reserve University)心理学教授道格拉斯·德特曼(Douglas K. Detterman)便是其中的一名怀疑者。他还是权威学术期刊《智商》(Intelligence)的创始编辑。他的研究似乎为备考大学的培训学员们打了一剂强心针,因为他发现智商与SAT分数有着紧密的关联。他说,“这些测试都是大同小异的。他们衡量的都是一般智商。”

The catch, however, is that Dr. Detterman believes that cognitive training only makes people better at taking tests, without improving their underlying intelligence. Dr. Detterman said of brain training, “It’s probably not harmful. But I would tell parents: Save your money. Look at the studies the commercial services have done to support their results. You’ll find very poorly done studies, with no control groups and all kinds of problems.”

然而,德特曼博士认为,关键在于认知培训只会提高人们的测试成绩,而并不会改变他们的基础智商。德特曼博士在评价大脑培训时说道,“培训不大可能对大脑造成损害。但是我得告诫父母们:省省钱吧。看看那些商业服务为了支持自己的成就而做的研究。你会发现这些研究做得很差,没有对照组,并存在大量问题。”

Executives at traditional tutoring and test-prep services tend to share Dr. Detterman’s view — perhaps not surprisingly, because some of the brain training programs pitch themselves in direct contrast to standard tutoring. (“Brain Training vs. Tutoring,” says the headline of a LearningRx brochure. “Is tutoring what your child really needs?”) Bror Saxberg, chief learning officer of Kaplan Inc., questions whether improving performance on an intelligence test will translate directly to improved grades and test scores.

传统家教和备考服务公司的高管们与德特曼博士的看法趋于一致——这倒是意料之中的事,因为一些大脑培训项目直接拿传统的家教服务作为对比案例。(LearningRx的小册子上书这样两排标题:“大脑培训对比家教服务。你的孩子真的需要家教吗?”)Kaplan公司首席学习官毕罗·萨克斯伯格(Bror Saxberg)对此表示怀疑,他认为智商测试成绩的改善不一定就会直接导致成绩或考试分数的提高。

“I keep looking for good studies that show how math performance or an ability to write an essay or some other really important set of skills have been dramatically enhanced for normal kids,” Dr. Saxberg said. “What you care about is not an intelligence test score, but whether your ability to do an important task has really improved. That’s a chain of evidence that would be really great to have. I haven’t seen it.” Dr. Saxberg, by the way, holds a master’s in mathematics from Oxford University, a Ph.D. in electrical engineering and computer science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School.

萨克斯伯格博士说,“我仍在寻找有力的研究证据,看看这些培训是如何大幅度提高普通孩子的数学解题能力、写作能力或其他一些重要技能的。人们关心的不是智商测试分数,而是从事重要工作的能力是否得到了真正的改善。能有这一系列的证据当然是再好不过的了,但是我一直都没有看到。”值得一提的是,萨克斯伯格博士同时还拥有牛津大学(Oxford University)数学硕士学位,麻省理工学院(Massachusetts Institute of Technology)的电子工程和计算机科学博士学位以及哈佛医学院(Harvard Medical School)的医学博士学位。

Still,a new and growing body of scientific evidence indicates that cognitive training can be effective, including that offered by commercial services.

然而,一项日趋增多的新科学证据表明,认知培训是有效的,这种培训包括商业公司所提供的大脑培训。

Oliver W. Hill Jr., a professor of psychology at Virginia State University in Petersburg, recently completed a $1 million study, yet to be published, financed by the National Science Foundation to test the effects of LearningRx. He looked at 340 middle-school students who spent two hours a week for a semester using LearningRx exercises in their schools’ computer labs and an equal number of students who received no such training. Those who played the online games, Dr. Hill found, not only improved significantly on measures of cognitive abilities compared to their peers, but also on Virginia’s annual Standards of Learning exam.

位于彼得斯堡的弗吉尼亚州立大学(Virginia State University)的心理学教授小奥利弗·希尔(Oliver W. Hill Jr.)最近完成了一项100万美元的研究项目,但尚未发表。该项目由国家科学基金会(National Science Foundation)出资,用于测试LearningRx培训内容的效果。他观察了340名中学学生,这些学生在一个学期之内每周花两个小时的时间通过学校计算机实验室来做LearningRx提供的练习,另外有340名学生则没有接受这项培训。希尔博士发现,相对于那些没有接受培训的学生,玩LearningRx在线游戏的学生在认知能力方面有了极大的改善,而且他们的弗吉尼亚州年度标准学习考试(Standards of Learning exam)成绩也有了很大幅度的提高。

He’s now conducting a follow-up study of college students in Texas and, he said, sees even stronger gains when the training is offered one on one.

他目前正在进行针对德州大学生的后续研究,他说,如果是一对一的培训,效果会更好。

Michael Merzenich, who spent years conducting brain plasticity research in animals as a professor at the University of California, San Francisco, started Posit Science to make the results of his research more widely available. “This is medicine,” he insisted. “It is driving changes in the brain.”

迈克·莫赞尼奇(Michael Merzenich)是加州大学旧金山分校(University of California, San Francisco)的教授,他一直在动物身上从事大脑可塑性研究。为了推广他的研究成果,他创建了Posit Science公司。他坚持认为,“培训相当于药物。它能使大脑产生变化。”

The programs offered by Posit, Lumosity and Cogmed are now being used by psychologists not affiliated with the companies to help people with diagnosed cognitive disorders, including traumatic brain injury, A.D.H.D., and the aftereffect of chemotherapy.

Posit、Lumosity和Cogmed公司提供的培训方法目前已得到了与公司无商业往来的心理学家的使用,用于帮助确诊患有认知障碍的人士,包括外伤性脑损伤、注意缺陷多动症和化疗后遗症患者。

Kristina K. Hardy, a neuropsychologist at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, is testing the use of Cogmed with childhood cancer survivors, whose ability to learn is sometimes significantly reduced after chemotherapy and radiation. Founded by a Swedish neuroscientist, Cogmed was bought in 2010 by Pearson, the largest provider of testing and teaching materials, and is offered via psychologists and other clinical specialists.

国家儿童医学中心(Children’s National Medical Center)神经心理学家克里斯蒂娜·哈迪(Kristina K. Hardy)正在癌症痊愈儿童身上测试Cogmed公司的疗法。化疗和放疗极大地削弱了一些孩子的学习能力。Cogmed由瑞典神经科学家创建,于2010年被最大的测试和教学材料供应商培生集团(Pearson)收购。心理学家和其他诊所的专家都在用Cogmed提供的疗法。

“I entered this work with some skepticism that just doing some computer work at home could help anybody,” she said. “I thought we wouldn’t be able to move the needle on their cognitive abilities. And not everybody has been able to make gains. But I’ve had some kids who not only reported that they had very big changes in the classroom, but when we bring them back in the laboratory to do neuropsychological testing, we also see great changes. They show increases that would be highly unlikely to happen just by chance.”

她说,“刚开始接触的时候我还有一些怀疑,难道仅在家中电脑上做做功课就能帮助病人?我曾以为我们难以让他们的认知能力得到较大的提升。虽然并不是所有人都取得了进步,但是有一些孩子据称在课堂上发生了巨大的变化,而且当我们把这些孩子带到实验室进行神经心理学测试时,我们也发现了巨大的变化。他们所呈现出的这种进步不大可能纯属偶然。”

Julie Schweitzer, director of the A.D.H.D. Program at the University of California, Davis, published a study in July finding that children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder who used Cogmed for 25 days were significantly better able to stay on task and to perform on a test of working memory — the ability to not just hold but to juggle items in the mind despite brief distractions.

加州大学戴维斯分校(University of California, Davis)注意缺失多动症项目主任朱莉·施瓦茨(Julie Schweitzer)于7月发表了一项研究,在使用Cogmed公司的疗法25天之后,患有注意缺失多动症孩子的任务注意力和工作记忆测试(保持注意力并且在存在轻微干扰的情况下仍能处理问题的能力)的分数都有了极大的改善。

“We got positive results, but it was a very small study,” she said. It involved just 26 children. Even so, she said: “In general, I’m cautiously optimistic about the potential for cognitive training. I’m concerned that some of the studies out there have not had the rigor that ought to be there. But I think the potential is there.”

她说,“我们得到了积极的结果,但这只是个很小范围的研究。通常,我对认知培训的效果持谨慎乐观的态度。我担心一些研究缺乏应有的严谨性,但是我觉得认知培训还是有潜力可挖的。”

AT Lumosity’s headquarters on the sixth floor of a rehabbed building in downtown San Francisco, bicycles line a wall, the meeting room has foosball, and the intensely focused young employees tap at their computers in a sprawling room without cubicles. It could be mistaken for a satellite office of Google. Except, oh, wait a minute, that guy who won the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament five times in a row? He actually quit Google last year to work here.

Lumosity的总部位于旧金山市中心经过翻修的一座大楼的六楼。在那里,自行车排成了墙,会议室里放着桌面足球,全神贯注的年轻雇员们在一个没有隔断、摆放杂乱的房间里面对着电脑敲着键盘。人们可能会把这当成是谷歌(Google)的分部。除了,呃,等一会,那个在美国填字游戏锦标赛(American Crossword Puzzle Tournament)获得五连冠的人?他的确于去年辞去了谷歌的工作转而效力于这家公司。

“I looked around for a place that would get me closer to the kinds of games and puzzles I enjoy,” said Tyler Hinman, who is now a software developer and game designer at Lumosity. “But where crosswords and Sudoku are intended to be a diversion, the games here give that same kind of reward, only they’re designed to improve your brain, your memory, your problem-solving skills.”

Lumosity软件开发人员兼游戏设计师泰勒·辛曼(Tyler Hinman)说,“我一直在找一个能让我从事自己爱好的工作,那就是游戏和字谜。然而,填字游戏和数独本来是一种消遣游戏,这里的游戏也能提供消遣,只是它们在经过设计之后可以帮助改善思维、记忆力和解决问题的能力。”

More than 40 games are offered by Lumosity. One, the N-back, is based on a task developed decades ago by psychologists. Created to test working memory, the N-back challenges users to keep track of a continuously updated list and remember which item appeared “n” times ago. Practice on the N-back has been shown in some studies to lead to significant increases in fluid intelligence. Unlike crystallized intelligence, the mental storehouse of knowledge and procedures, fluid intelligence is the ability to solve novel problems, to see patterns and understand complex relationships — to find order in the chaos.

Lumosity提供40多款游戏。其中一款N-back是基于数十年前心理学家开发的一个测试。N-back主要用于测试工作记忆,它让玩家跟踪不断更新的条目,然后回忆哪一个条目曾在之前出现过多少次。一些研究显示,经常玩N-back有助于极大地提升流动智力。晶体智力是大脑储存知识和程序的仓库,而流动智力则不同,它的能力是解决新问题,发现特征并理解复杂关系——在混乱中找寻规律。

Not all the exercises offered by the commercial services carry the scientific pedigree of the N-back. Some offered by LearningRx exude an undeniable whiff of the theatrical, like having trainers shout and clap to help students learn to ignore distractions.

并不是所有由商业公司提供的训练都带有类似于N-back的科学依据血统。LearningRx提供的一些方法就带有明显的理论倾向,例如让培训老师呼喊拍手来帮助学生学会忽略干扰。

Perhaps that reflects the company’s origins. Whereas the founders of Posit, Cogmed and Lumosity all have advanced degrees in psychology and neuroscience, the founder of LearningRx obtained his Ph.D. in pediatric optometry.

可能这也反映了公司的来历。Posit、Cogmed和Lumosity公司的创始人都拥有心理学或神经科学方面的高等学历,而LearningRx的创始人拿到的则是小儿验光学博士学位。

“Largely my focus was on visual training,” Dr. Gibson said. Treating children with problems involving focusing or eye movement, he developed an interest in dyslexia and other learning disorders. “I realized I could help those who had eyes crossed, but I wasn’t helping very much with their academic performance,” he said. “I started reading the literature about training abilities of every skill, not just visual, but auditory and memory and speed of processing.”

吉普森博士说,“我的大部分精力都放在了视觉训练上面。”由于经常给带有注意力问题或眼动问题的孩子治疗,他对阅读障碍和其他学习障碍也产生了兴趣。他说,“我意识到我可以帮助那些具有内斜视的孩子,但是我没能帮他们提高学业成绩。我开始阅读任何与培训能力技巧有关的文献,不光是视觉,还包括听觉、记忆和处理速度。”

Dr. Gibson is self-taught in the field of psychology; his confidence in his program, he said, comes from the gains students make on I.Q. tests. Trainers and franchise owners must be college graduates but need not have expertise — beyond the training given to them by LearningRx. Ms. Duch and Ms. Maia, the Montclair trainers, have B.A.’s in psychology.

吉普森博士自学了心理学;他表示,他对自己项目的信心源于学员在智商测试上的进步。培训师和连锁店店主必须有大学文凭但不一定非得学习这一专业——例如在蒙特克莱分店作培训师的达奇女士和迈亚女士,除了接受LearningRx的培训之外,她们都拥有心理学学士学位。

“This has been a process since 1986,” Dr. Gibson said. “We have so systematized the program that the educational background of the trainers and franchise owners is not an issue. I don’t come from the perspective of an academic. We’re not part of Duke University or Harvard. We have to get results to justify the fees that we charge and get referrals.”

吉普森博士说,“自1986年以来我们的培训一直在发展中。 项目已经高度系统化,因此培训师和店主的教育背景对我们来说不是问题。我自己学的就不是这个专业。我们也不隶属于杜克大学(Duke University)或哈佛大学(Harvard)。我们必须通过结果来证明培训是物有所值的,并藉此获得他人的推荐。”

Back at the franchise in Upper Montclair, Nathan Veloric is trying to do his “speed numbers” exercise just a bit faster, in 45 seconds rather than 50, still without missing a single pair of numbers that add up to nine. Four times in a row he goes down a list, each time missing just one of the pairs.

回到北蒙特克莱的LearningRx连锁店,内森·维罗瑞克试图以更快的速度完成他的“速度数字”训练,即45秒而不是50秒,同时不漏掉任何一对相加得9的数字。他每遍做4个不同测试,每次只漏画了一对数字。

“O.K., try it again,” says Ms. Duch. “I know you’re getting tired. Just give me two more tries.” And again she starts the timer.

达奇女士说,“好的,再来一次。我知道你累了。还有最后两次。”然后她再次按下了计时器。
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