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Wednesday, 10 December 2014


Photo: Celtic Tree of Life Knot (a still from YouTube)

"One of the interesting things about the mind is that even though we all have one, we don't have perfect insight into how to get the best from it. This is in part because of flaws in our ability to think about our own thinking, which is called metacognition. Studying this self-reflective thought process reveals that the human species has mental blind spots.
     One area where these blind spots are particularly large is learning. We're actually surprisingly bad at having insight into how we learn best. […] On the final exam differences between the groups were dramatic. While dropping items from study didn’t have much of an effect, the people who dropped items from testing performed relatively poorly: they could only remember about 35% of the word pairs, compared to 80% for people who kept testing items after they had learnt them.
     It seems the effective way to learn is to practice retrieving items from memory, not trying to cement them in there by further study. Moreover, dropping items entirely from your revision, which is the advice given by many study guides, is wrong. You can stop studying them if you've learnt them, but you should keep testing what you've learnt if you want to remember them at the time of the final exam.”
— Tom Stafford, BBC
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“Memory does not provide a perfect record of the past and can be altered long after acquisition. This malleability of memory has important implications, for public and private spheres of life. The dynamic nature of memory is probably not a design flaw; it can allow us to update existing knowledge in light of new information. Understanding the dynamics of memory change is one of the current challenges facing cognitive neuroscience, but until recently we have lacked experimental approaches to address this problem, and the neural mechanisms controlling memory updating remain obscure. Recent work on the phenomenon of memory 'reconsolidation' provides a methodological approach to disentangling the processes involved in this form of memory modification (Dudai 2006).”
— Almut Hupbach, Oliver Hardt, Rebecca Gomez and Lynn Nadel, Learning & Memory
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