Artificial Intelligence

Feature Story

Can taking breaks enhance test-taking performance?

December 18, 2018

Might power naps enhance performance? Perhaps. Short breaks sure do. That is the finding of research by Kristina Lerman, principal scientist at the USC Information Sciences Institute and research associate professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.

In the paper, called "Model of Cognitive Dynamics Predicts Performance on Standardized Tests," Lerman, along with lead author Nathan O. Hodas, and co-authors Jacob Hunter, and Stephen J. Young, reviewed 2.8 million attempts by 180 thousand users to answer 6,000 SAT, ACT, and GED test questions on the website grockit.com, evaluating the intervals between the stop and start time of the students’ attempts to solve problems and learn from mistakes. Their study, published the Journal of Computational Social Science, puts forth a model to understand factors at play in performance.

Similar to models previously employed to understand energy metabolism in the brain, the USC team’s model focuses on the concept of resource depletion. In this case, the researchers’ premise is that the mere act of answering questions itself depletes the brain the resources it needs for performance.

The data shows that the longer test takers focused on a task, the more their cognitive resources were "depleted by sustained mental effort."

What is a test-taker to do? Take breaks. The authors say, "Performance declines over the course of a test taking session, it recovers following prolonged breaks between sessions."

And the researchers suggest that when you do return to whatever task you are doing, that you should warm up of an easier task before starting a more complicated task.

This body of work has implications not just for test-taking, the researchers say, but for the start of the work week. One should start with something easier such as an email before going onto bigger, more complex tasks that require intense concentration.Read More

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News

New ISI project receives $13 million award to model and predict impact of human activities on water and food

February 3, 2018

Forecasting how natural processes and human activities affect one another can help address major societal and environmental challenges. In many areas of the globe, climate affects water resources and therefore food availability, with significant economic and social implications. 

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ISI TEAM'S AI RESEARCH COULD SPEED LANGUAGE TRANSLATION — AND SAVE LIVES

August 22, 2017

Picture the scene. After years of drought, flash flooding pummels Ethiopia's Oromia and Tigray regions, spreading cholera and exacerbating food shortages. Civil unrest follows and protests swell, killing hundreds and injuring thousands.

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Bloomberg: Big Data Shows Big Promise in Medicine

August 13, 2017

ISI's Greg Ver Steeg was highlighted for his algorithm CorEx which was used to help a friend and computational biologist Shirley Pepke find treatment options for her cancer diagnosis.

https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-07-28/big-data-shows-big-promise-in-medicine

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Feature Story

Can taking breaks enhance test-taking performance?

December 18, 2018

Might power naps enhance performance? Perhaps. Short breaks sure do. That is the finding of research by Kristina Lerman, principal scientist at the USC Information Sciences Institute and research associate professor in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Department of Computer Science.

In the paper, called "Model of Cognitive Dynamics Predicts Performance on Standardized Tests," Lerman, along with lead author Nathan O. Hodas, and co-authors Jacob Hunter, and Stephen J. Young, reviewed 2.8 million attempts by 180 thousand users to answer 6,000 SAT, ACT, and GED test questions on the website grockit.com, evaluating the intervals between the stop and start time of the students’ attempts to solve problems and learn from mistakes. Their study, published the Journal of Computational Social Science, puts forth a model to understand factors at play in performance.

Similar to models previously employed to understand energy metabolism in the brain, the USC team’s model focuses on the concept of resource depletion. In this case, the researchers’ premise is that the mere act of answering questions itself depletes the brain the resources it needs for performance.

The data shows that the longer test takers focused on a task, the more their cognitive resources were "depleted by sustained mental effort."

What is a test-taker to do? Take breaks. The authors say, "Performance declines over the course of a test taking session, it recovers following prolonged breaks between sessions."

And the researchers suggest that when you do return to whatever task you are doing, that you should warm up of an easier task before starting a more complicated task.

This body of work has implications not just for test-taking, the researchers say, but for the start of the work week. One should start with something easier such as an email before going onto bigger, more complex tasks that require intense concentration.Read More

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Events

Unless otherwise noted, seminars are open to the public.

Jan 18 Paul Bogden, USCAI Seminar

Decoding the Laws of Emergence and Self-Organization in Complex Collectives: Lessons Learned from Biological Systems

11:00am - 12:00pm PST
Jan 25 Alice Liu, Director of the Viterbi Startup Garage and James Chang, Co Founder and CEO of FrenzyAI Seminar

Talk #1 ISI/VSG AI Innovation Exchange: Support for Launching Startups in AI Talk#2 Discussion with Frenzy, VSG startup, on use of computer vision for fashion

11:00am - 12:00pm PST
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