Jiva Technology

The Power of Perceptual Learning

For those of you that missed it, there was an excellent article in the NY Times on the topic of perceptual learning. Benedict Carey reports on the work of a group of cognitive scientists who believe that the right kind of training dramatically improves those skills that are normally associated with experts in a field: the ability to ‘see’ the answer or classify what form a problem takes. It reminded me of a time a few years back when my admittedly ancient Mercedes car had given up the ghost on me near the desert town of Coolgardie, Australia. The 70 year old mechanic, who’d been recommended through a friend of a friend of a friend, didn’t touch the car – he just listened to it for 20 minutes. He then diagnosed the problem without laying a single hand on the stricken vehicle. The research seems to indicate that improving your perceptual skills not only makes learning easier, but also makes it easier to transfer skills from subject to subject and from classroom to real life. You can find some of the original research by UCLA and University of Philadelphia here.

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