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Measuring Cognative Function

posted Dec 13, 2012, 1:38 PM by Bill Schuller
I am starting to see four axis for measuring connotative function.

Speed - Inverse of the delay in recall in serial thought flow. When I have good speed, my thoughts are flowing easily.
Control - The ability to maintain the correct speed. Slow down if needed to explore other forks. I often feel overwhelmed when my thoughts are flowing too fast and I observe parallel threads backtracking to look for missed forks. Maybe this is a crude form of speed regulation? It has a negative association for me.
Breadth - How well relevant associated thoughts are being recalled in the context of the current flow. When I have good breadth, related thoughts come into play easily and I draw surprising correlations between disparate entities.
Clarity - Cognitive Awareness. I'm lacking some clarity of thought on this, which is what prompted the impromptu development of this model. It's "fog". Even if I'm thinking very quickly with excellent correlation of related thoughts and do not feel like I'm careening out of control, I still am not sure "where I am", or is it "where I'm going".?

Stream of consciousness:

What is this watchdog process that keeps saying "stop thinking about that, you're going to hurt yourself!". Often it is more to the tune of "yes, this is very interesting, but think about it later" where "later" is a pointer to "some time in the indefinite future if your remember to think about it at all again".

This had me thinking the other day about the practice of writing down "great" ideas. I came to the interim conclusion that great ideas are really as the saying goes a dime a dozen. What I am actually aiming for is not better ideas, but better recall of those "great" ideas when they become contextually relevant. More importantly, as most of those ideas are already in a notebook beside at least 42 beds other than mine, I would like to recall _all_ of the contextually relevant great ideas, weigh them against each other and mash them up. Begs the question: If writing something down is a way for our brain to externalize that cognitive "actor", does it weaken the recall of that idea? This obviously contradicts research proving that writing reenforces recall, i.e. taking notes. However, this is in the input->filter->output->input loop involved in taking notes (hearing -> listening -> writing -> reading) different? Jotting down an idea follows a flow similar to filter->output->input. Is jotting a quick sentence or fragment enough to increase recall, or does my brain assume that there is a "backup" so it de-prioritizes maintaining the primary storage? Is moving an actor from the stage onto paper expanding your "RAM" for working with a current idea? Does it affect the "flash" memory stored more permanently?

Obviously I need some more reading in the neuroscience area. Also need to look at the literature on measuring cognitive function. Quite a bit of this thinking references Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long. It's a good read.