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The Brain : Learning and Memory
CHAPTER 2. HOW WE LEARN 1. MINIMISE DISTRACTIONS “The easiest and most obvious way we can help to focus our attention is by reducing the amount of distractions in our environment.” That’s the advice of QBI cognitive neuroscientist Professor Jason Mattingley. Distractions include mobile phones, social media and television. Multitasking should also be avoided, where possible. Although some people are convinced they can do two or more mental tasks equally effectively at the same time, research shows this isn’t the case. Multitasking activates inhibitory networks in the brain, which suggests the brain is rapidly switching between tasks rather than doing them simultaneously. Other research has found that chronic multitasking impairs both long-term and working (short-term) memory. EDUCATORS Set rules about the use of technology in the classroom; encourage students to focus on one task at a time. 2. USE ACTIVE TESTING OR RECALL Doing quizzes or forcing yourself to actively recall information is linked to deeper memory formation than when you passively review notes. US research involving a foreign language learning task, for example, found that university students were better able to retain word meanings if they were actively tested on them, suggesting long-term learning occurs during forced-recall testing. EDUCATORS Make quizzes or assessment tools available to students. 3. SPREAD LEARNING OUT The benefits of spacing out learning have been observed in students from pre-school to university. For long-term retention, spacing study sessions apart is far more effective than when information is learned en masse in one long session. Revise regularly, whether it is done weekly or each day. EDUCATORS Periodically review topics throughout a term. BOOST YOUR LEARNING USE THESE SIX TIPS TO HELP IMPROVE THE POWER OF YOUR BRAIN.