The little breaks that help the brain learn new things – BBC News BBC Homepage

  • Paula Adamo Idoeta
  • BBC News Brazil in London

photo credit, Seventyfour

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Studies show that when learning something new, like a song on the piano, taking short breaks is more effective than continuously practicing to the point of exhaustion.

To learn something new you have to practice, practice, practice, common sense says – this idea that “eat makes you a blacksmith”.

However, a number of scientific studies have shown that relentless practice may not be the most effective way to learn a new skill: the brain needs rest to consolidate newly acquired knowledge and transform it from a temporary memory into a lasting memory.

And one of the most recent discoveries is that short breaks interspersed with activity practice lead to significant learning gains: the brain uses these breaks to mentally and very quickly repeat what it has just learned, thus reinforcing the newly acquired skill.

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