Jul 082011

Brain Workout: Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas

Michal Czerwonka for The New York Times

brain Workout: By BENEDICT CAREY, Published: June 6, 2011, via The New York Times

Like any other high school junior, Wynn Haimer has a few holes in his academic game -he could use a brain workout. Graphs and equations, for instance: He gets the idea, fine — one is a linear representation of the other — but making those conversions is often a headache.

Joe Wise, a physics teacher at New Roads School, said, “The brain is very good at sorting out patterns if you give it the chance at the right feedback.”

Or at least it was. For about a month now, Wynn, 17, has been practicing at home using an unusual online program, a brain workout, that prompts him to match graphs to equations, dozens upon dozens of them, and fast, often before he has time to work out the correct answer. An equation appears on the screen, and below it three graphs (or vice versa, a graph with three equations). He clicks on one and the screen flashes to tell him whether he’s right or wrong and jumps to the next problem.

“I’m much better at it,” he said, in a phone interview from his school, New Roads in Santa Monica, Calif. “In the beginning it was difficult, having to work so quickly; but you sort of get used to it, and in the end it’s more intuitive. The brain workout makes the effort becomes more effortless.”

brain workout


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