True North is a brain training exercise that helps you practice holding orientation information in your head as you follow increasingly complex instructions while simultaneously keeping track of ever-changing cardinal directions. This kind of mental mapping is not just useful when following directions and trying to get from point A to point B. It also helps improve memory for multi-tasking and can boost short-term memory skills in other situations.
One of the core challenges is what to do when there is no compass shown after the first station. This is intentional, as the challenge of the exercise is to figure out the orientation of the new station based on previous instructions. When you take a train from Station A it arrives at Station B going in the same direction, thus telling the orientation of the arrival station. For example, if a south bound train arrives at the station from the right and exits to the left, then the orientation of the station places north to the right. Alternatively, if the train arrives from the bottom and exits at the top, then north would be down.
Here is a step-by-step example:
- "Take the Northbound Train to N. Hollow Rd. then take the Eastbound train to Attkinson Ave."
- A compass rose appears indicating 'up' is North. Two trains appear, one with a pink arrow painted on it heading to the right of the screen (East) and one with a yellow arrow painted on it pointed to the top of the screen (North).
- Select the train pointed to the top of the screen.
- In the next screen, a sign indicates arrival at N. Hollow Rd.
- In the next screen, the same Northbound train with a yellow arrow painted on it arriving in the station, this time pointing to the bottom of the screen.
- Reorient to consider that now the bottom of the screen is "North", and since you must now take the Eastbound train, you will need to select a train heading to the left side of the screen. It's important to note that there is no longer a compass rose to indicate direction! This is the cognitive challenge. You must keep your sense of direction and reorient yourself based upon a set of two factors, the direction of arrival and the compass rose when first boarding.
- Two trains appear, one pointed to the left (East) and another pointed down (North).
- Select the train with the pink arrow painted on it, heading towards the left side of the screen (East).
As the exercise progresses, it gets more challenging in the following ways:
- The number of instructions increases.
- The instructions become more complex and confusable.
- Orientation information becomes more complex.
- The speech become faster and less processed.
Train with True North to feel more confident in your ability to navigate in new surroundings.
For more information on True North click here.
The speech may sound a little strange to you at first. The speech has been digitally stretched and emphasized in the first levels to better engage your brain in the auditory processing component of the task. Other levels have normal speech, and some levels have compressed rapid speech. You can read more about speech processing here.