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One logical flaw in their argument, one I've seen frequently made by professors of psychology who focus on individual differences, is that they don't know whether or not the difference among participants in the Study of Exceptional Talent (a group of young people who score high on the SAT at a young age, a group that includes an immediate relative of mine) is from what they call "talent" or from practice. Nothing about the way the Study of Exceptional Talent gathers its rather limited data about study participants allow distinguishing one possibility from the other. There is no basis from the data-gathering done in that study to conclude that there is ANY difference between the "99.1 percentile" and the "99.9 percentile," especially given the error bands around SAT scores.

One of the really amazing things about the export performance literature by Ericsson, Charness, and others


is that it comes out of a tradition in psychology--individual differences psychology--that very readily defaults to genetic explanations and very readily ignores possible environmental explanations of the same individual differences. Ericsson's experimental results in training digit span (which is part of the item content of same IQ test batteries) were completely surprising when published in peer-reviewed journals--no one ever imagined that digit span


was such a malleable ability.

But digit span, which is malleable (trainable), is closely related to the "working memory capacity" that the authors are implicitly claiming is not malleable. That is not at all clear, and much experimental work suggests that working memory capacity is more malleable than the authors acknowledge in this opinion piece.

Also on-point here is pg's comment from his essay "What You'll Wish You'd Known"


"I'm not saying there's no such thing as genius. But if you're trying to choose between two theories and one gives you an excuse for being lazy, the other one is probably right."

Reading this article bummed me out until I was reminded of my own experiences with increasing working/short-term memory through the use of N-Back games. In my own n = 1 study, I struggled through dual 2 back initially, but with a few weeks of practice, I gradually was able to climb up to the dual 4 back level, and stopped there out of sheer laziness.

Anyways, for anyone interested in N-Back games, check out the Brain Workshop software and website.


Did you feel there was actually any benefit between your day to day life? I'd suppose that the benefit would be different person to person due to what they do in their average day but am still curious.

Honestly, I haven't noticed any dramatic improvements. However, as strange as it may sound, I feel better about myself knowing that I was able to increase my short-term memory within that specific N-Back game since I was almost positive I would never make progress in it. I'm unsure if it has translated into other activities, but overall I feel sharper for what it's worth.

Totally makes sense, part of the reason why I play musical instruments so much.

I think I'm gonna try doing it for a few minutes every day and see what happens. When I was younger I used to be able to remember everything vividly very effortlessly and I envy that again.

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