“So everyone has and uses mental representations. What sets expert performers apart from everyone else is the quality and quantity of their mental representations. Through years of practice, they develop highly complex and sophisticated representations of the various situations they are likely to encounter in their fields—such as the vast number of arrangements of chess pieces that can appear during games. These representations allow them to make faster, more accurate decisions and respond more quickly and effectively in a given situation. This, more than anything else, explains the difference in performance between novices and experts.”
“Consider how professional baseball players are able to consistently hit balls that are pitched toward them at speeds that may exceed ninety miles per hour—something that’s impossible for anyone who hasn’t spent years training in that particular skill. These hitters have just a split second to decide whether to swing and, if so, where to swing. They have no better eyesight than an average person, and their reflexes are no faster. What they have is a set of mental representations developed through years of hitting pitches and getting immediate feedback about their expectations concerning a pitch. These representations enable them to quickly recognize what sort of pitch is coming and where it will likely be when it reaches them. As soon as they see the pitcher’s arm come around and the ball leave his hand, they have a very good idea—without having to do any sort of conscious calculations—whether it will be a fastball, slider, or curve and approximately where it’s heading. In essence, they’ve learned to read the pitcher’s delivery, so they have less need to “actually see how the ball travels before determining whether and where to swing the bat. The rest of us, who are illiterate where pitching is concerned, simply can’t make these decisions before the ball arrives in the catcher’s mitt.”
“So here is a major part of the answer to the question we asked at the end of the last chapter: What exactly is being changed in the brain with deliberate practice? The main thing that sets experts apart from the rest of us is that their years of practice have changed the neural circuitry in their brains to produce highly specialized mental representations, which in turn make possible the incredible memory, pattern recognition, problem solving, and other sorts of advanced abilities needed to excel in their particular specialties.”
In pretty much every area, a hallmark of expert performance is the ability to see patterns in a collection of things that would seem random or confusing to people with less well developed mental representations. In other words, experts see the forest when everyone else sees only trees.
“This is perhaps most obvious in team sports. Take soccer, for instance. You have eleven players on a side moving around in a way that to the uninitiated seems a swirling chaos with no discernible pattern beyond the obvious fact that some players are drawn to the soccer ball whenever it comes near. To those who know and love the game, however, and particularly to those who play the game well, this chaos is no chaos at all. It is all a beautifully nuanced and constantly shifting pattern created as the players move in response to the ball and the movements of the other players. The best players recognize and respond to the patterns almost instantaneously, taking advantage of weaknesses or openings as soon as they appear.”
“To study this phenomenon, I and two colleagues, Paul Ward and Mark Williams, investigated how well soccer players can predict what’s coming next from what has already happened on the field. To do this we showed them videos of real soccer matches and suddenly stopped the video when a player had just received the ball. Then we asked our subjects to predict what would happen next. Would the player with the ball keep it, attempt a shot at the goal, or pass the ball to a teammate? We found that the more accomplished players were much better at deciding what the player with the ball should do. We also tested the players’ memory for where the relevant players were located and in what directions they were moving by asking them to recall as much as they could from the last frame of the video before it was hidden from them. Again, the better players outperformed the weaker ones.
We concluded that the advantage better players had in predicting future events was related to their ability to envision more possible outcomes and quickly sift through them and come up with the most promising action. “In short, the better players had a more highly developed ability to interpret the pattern of action on the field. This ability allowed them to perceive which players’ movements and interactions mattered most, which allowed them to make better decisions about where to go on the field, when to pass the ball and to whom, and so on.”
“To see why, consider what happens when you test a group of subjects by having them read a newspaper article on something a bit specialized—say, a football or baseball game—and then quiz them to see how much of it they remember. You might guess that the results would depend mainly on the subjects’ general verbal ability (which is closely related to IQ), but you’d be wrong. Studies have shown that the key factor determining a person’s comprehension of a story about a football or baseball game is how much that person already understands about the sport.”
“The reason is straightforward: If you don’t know much about the sport, then all of the details you read are essentially a bunch of unrelated facts, and remembering them is not much easier than remembering a list of random words. But if you understand the sport, you’ve already established a mental structure for making sense of it, organized the information, and combined it with all the other relevant information you’ve already assimilated. The new information becomes part of an ongoing story, and as such it moves quickly and easily into your long-term memory, allowing you to remember far more of the information in an article than you could if you were unfamiliar with the game it describes.
“The more you study a subject, the more detailed your mental representations of it become, and the better you get at assimilating new information. Thus a chess expert can look at a series of moves in chess notation that are gibberish to most people—1. e4 e5 2. Nf3 Nc6
- Bb5 a6 . . .—and follow and understand an entire game. Similarly, an expert musician can look at a musical score for a new composition and know what it will sound like before ever playing it. And if you are a reader who is already familiar with the concept of deliberate practice or with the broader area of the psychology of learning, you will likely find it easier than other readers to assimilate the information in this book. Either way, reading this book and thinking about the topics I’m discussing will help you create new mental representations, which will in turn make it easier for you to read and learn more about this subject in the future.”
“In general, mental representations aren’t just the result of learning a skill; they can also help us learn. Some of the best evidence for this comes from the field of musical performance. Several researchers have examined what differentiates the best musicians from lesser ones, and one of the major differences lies in the quality of the mental representations the best ones create. When practicing a new piece, beginning and intermediate musicians generally lack a good, clear idea of how the music should sound, while advanced musicians have a very detailed mental representation of the music they use to guide their practice and, ultimately, their performance of a piece. In particular, they use their mental representations to provide their own feedback so that they know how close they are to getting the piece right and what they need to do differently to improve. The beginners and intermediate students may have crude representations of the music that allow them to tell, for instance, when they hit a wrong note, but they “must rely on feedback from their teachers to identify the more subtle mistakes and weaknesses.”
mental representations可以反过来促进你的学习。而并非只是学习的结果。mental representations多了的话，可以帮助你发现错误。
“In any area, not just musical performance, the relationship between skill and mental representations is a virtuous circle: the more skilled you become, the better your mental representations are, and the better your mental representations are, the more effectively you can practice to hone your skill.”
摘录来自: Anders Ericsson. “Peak: Secrets from the New Science of Expertise”。 iBooks.
If you were to examine the birth certificate of every soccer player in 2006’s World Cup tournament, you would most likely find a noteworthy quirk: elite soccer players are more likely to have been born in the earlier months of the year than in the later months. If you then examined the European national youth teams that feed the World Cup and professional ranks, you would find this strange phenomenon to be even more pronounced.
What might account for this strange phenomenon? Here are a few guesses: a) certain astrological signs confer superior soccer skills; b) winter-born babies tend to have higher oxygen capacity, which increases soccer stamina; c) soccer-mad parents are more likely to conceive children in springtime, at the annual peak of soccer mania; d) none of the above.
Anders Ericsson, a 58-year-old psychology professor at Florida State University, says he believes strongly in “none of the above.” Ericsson grew up in Sweden, and studied nuclear engineering until he realized he would have more opportunity to conduct his own research if he switched to psychology. His first experiment, nearly 30 years ago, involved memory: training a person to hear and then repeat a random series of numbers. “With the first subject, after about 20 hours of training, his digit span had risen from 7 to 20,” Ericsson recalls. “He kept improving, and after about 200 hours of training he had risen to over 80 numbers.”
This success, coupled with later research showing that memory itself is not genetically determined, led Ericsson to conclude that the act of memorizing is more of a cognitive exercise than an intuitive one. In other words, whatever inborn differences two people may exhibit in their abilities to memorize, those differences are swamped by how well each person “encodes” the information. And the best way to learn how to encode information meaningfully, Ericsson determined, was a process known as deliberate practice. Deliberate practice entails more than simply repeating a task. Rather, it involves setting specific goals, obtaining immediate feedback and concentrating as much on technique as on outcome.
Ericsson and his colleagues have thus taken to studying expert performers in a wide range of pursuits, including soccer. They gather all the data they can, not just performance statistics and biographical details but also the results of their own laboratory experiments with high achievers. Their work makes a rather startling assertion: the trait we commonly call talent is highly overrated. Or, put another way, expert performers—whether in memory or surgery, ballet or computer programming—are nearly always made, not born.
21. The birthday phenomenon found among soccer players is mentioned to
A. stress the importance of professional training.
B. spotlight the soccer superstars in the World Cup.
C. introduce the topic of what makes expert performance.
D. explain why some soccer teams play better than others.
22. The word “mania” (Line 4, Paragraph 2) most probably means
A. funB. crazeC. hysteriaD. excitement
23. According to Ericsson, good memory
A. depends on meaningful processing of information.