New Research Finds Surprising Key To Improved Memory

New Research Finds Surprising Key To Improved Memory
By C Hoppe
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For parents with children preparing for exams its a testing time. Encouraging, cajoling, harassing (and at times- begging), that children prepare adequately in advance.

However, new British research has shown that cramming may well not be the answer to getting the exam marks you want. According to Academics from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway University; students who learned in 'chunks' consolidated and remembered the information better than those who didn't.

And, the secret ingredient between 'chunks?' Sleep!

According to the Telegraph, "research also suggested that learning material in stages and getting enough sleep in-between sessions, meant students were better able to make connections and remember information, putting paid to the belief that 'cramming' before an exam is an effective means of revision."

Kathy Rastle, professor of Cognitive Psychology at Royal Holloway, said, "teachers have long suspected that proper rest is critical for successful learning. Our research provides some experimental support for this notion...we learnt that you need a period of consolidation to understand and apply rules."

"There's a dual mechanism model in the brain," she continued. "There's a structure called a hippocampus, which is a rapid learner. It learns individual items or examples rapidly.

"However, while you are resting, while you are consolidating the information, the hippocampus replays the information and it gradually becomes encoded in the neocortex."

Prof Rastle went on to say,"when we are revising we are not just trying to remember individual stats, we are trying to extract concepts," she said. "So our research shows that you have to have a consolidation period."

"Secondly, if you are building on information, you need to structure your learning in such a way that it is spaced. Learn a little bit today, sleep on it, learn a little bit tomorrow, sleep on it. Certainly, our research would suggest that cramming and not getting proper rest is probably not going to be a good strategy for acing the exam," she said.

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