Yet, we also know that the brain is complex. This begs the question: how can we best use the brain’s complexity to aid us in studying? An article in the New York Times reported findings from some cognitive research that might surprise you!
- Why? Scientists think that our complex brain absorbs information in association with its larger context. Apparently the context is not only factual (for example, how much you already know about the subject) but also seems to be the circumstances of learning (such as the details of the room you study in). So, varying the context for studying associates the new information with several contexts and thus embeds it more firmly in your brain.
- Take away: Try varying the seat you use in a classroom and try varying the location or other circumstances (quiet/music) of your study and review sessions. What do you notice?
- Why? Again, researchers believe that this approach makes active use of the complexity of the brain: it forces the brain to use its ability to search for deeper patterns (similarities, differences), thus helping hold the information more firmly in place.
- Take away: Mix up your approaches to studying a particular subject during any one study period. For example, instead of just reading, read, do some exercises or take notes, recite out loud, make flash cards. What approaches might you try?
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