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thinking in parallel 
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Joined: Thu Aug 21, 2008 12:40 pm
Posts: 540
Post thinking in parallel
In TEFL, Ira and Lazarus are talking about Minerva the computer doing research on multiple parallel tracks.

[Ira:] “Even the great Libby probably didn't have the time-share capacity Minerva has. Most brains are merely linear, and I've never heard of any human genius who had more than three tracks.”
[Ira:]“So? Well, you've met more geniuses than I have."

Today, the local public radio station reran an episode of "Radio Lab" featuring Bob Milne.

Milne is a virtuoso ragtime piano player, and apparently he can process multiple trains of thought simultaneously. They described him as being able to play two different technically challenging melodies with different time signatures simultaneously (one on each hand) while also being able to carry on a conversation on an unrelated subject.

To study him, they gave him a CD of a classical piece of music, and also to a classical conductor (as a control) and let them listen to them for a couple of days to get familiar with the piece. They, without actually audibly playing the music, asked them to start "playing" the music in their minds, and after a short period of time, to "pause" the piece. The researchers knew what note and measure of music Milne and the conductor should have landed on after a specific interval of time. The conductor was accurate to within a second or so, and Milne was accurate to within a note or two.

Then they did the same thing with two pieces of music. They would have Milne and the conductor start reviewing one piece, then a few seconds later, start a second piece, and asked Milne and the conductor to again keep up with where they should be in the pieces as time progressed. The conductor quickly got confused and after a short time wasn't able to accurately pace himself on either piece of music. Milne was able to do both, to the note.

The researchers were able to repeat the experiment with Milne with four simultaneous pieces of music "playing" in his head, and he was able to accurately locate himself in them after specific intervals of time.

Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:28 pm
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Joined: Mon May 02, 2011 2:10 pm
Posts: 445
Location: Juneau, AK
Post Re: thinking in parallel
Milne really is in a class by himself, compared to anyone else I know of. There have been several people who demonstrated writing different things with each hand simultaneously, but I don't know if they could chat about the weather at the same time...the American chess grandmaster Harry Nelson Pillsbury could supposedly play whist, a "blindfold" game of chess and recite a memorized list of difficult words at the same time, but perhaps he just moved very quickly from one thing to another?

"There comes a time in the life of every human when he or she must decide to risk 'his life, his fortune, and his sacred honor' on an outcome dubious. Those who fail the challenge are merely overgrown children, can never be anything else."

Wed Aug 14, 2013 11:39 am

Joined: Thu May 10, 2012 12:39 am
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Post Re: thinking in parallel

(Your message contains 3 characters. The minimum number of characters you need to enter is 10)

three was enough.

Sat Aug 17, 2013 11:25 pm
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Joined: Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:17 pm
Posts: 2401
Location: The Quiet Earth
Post Re: thinking in parallel
There were performers in the early part of the 20th who could simultaneously write 10 different words with pens attached to their fingers (actually, it was usually chalk on long holders, so that they could do it on a blackboard) and two more with their feet.

The closest James Randi has come to losing his prize for demonstrated paranormal ability was a man who could "read" the grooves on an LP record. Handed any classical recording, with the telltale center completely covered on both sides, he could identify not only the work but often the specific orchestra and recording. It proved to be an absolutely phenomenal memory for the literature coupled with a learned "reading" of how different tempos, instruments and passages ended up pressed in the vinyl.

At a certain point, tests have to be made to differentiate spectacular but trained muscle control, or exceptional memory and recall, from actual thought processes.

Sun Aug 18, 2013 8:00 am

Joined: Mon Feb 28, 2011 9:53 am
Posts: 555
Post Re: thinking in parallel
Does this count: Charles Dickens was said to be able to write and carry on a conversation at the same time.

Mon Apr 28, 2014 6:30 pm
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