Imagine studying non-stop for hours, desiring to get at least a 5-minute distraction. But you start feeling guilty, thinking you haven’t studied enough. Wouldn’t it be nice to take a break AND keep studying at the same time? Well, according to a study from the University of Texas, published by the National Academy of Sciences, taking breaks during study sessions actually increases your learning.
Researcher Margaret Schlichting and psychology and neuroscience professor Alison Preston found out how students learn and remember more by taking study breaks. To get to know this, they conducted a study with a group of participants who were given two series of photo pairs, and had to memorize each of them.
After the first set, the contributors were given time to relax and think on whatever they had in mind. Some participants decided to use their break to reflect on the knowledge previously acquired. According to the MRI scans done during the break, these people were the ones who did better while testing their recently acquired knowledge.
Just by resting and taking breaks during studying sessions, our brains are strengthened. As a result, the information we study gets transferred to our long-term memory. Whereas when we use our breaks for reflection, this simple activity boosts information absorption by creating mental connections between old and new information.
“…We think replaying memories during rest makes those earlier memories stronger, not just impacting the original content, but impacting the memories to come.”
Although participants were reflecting, they weren’t necessarily doing it on purpose. Memory replay -seen by Preston- is an automatic process that occurs during rest. She states, “…the brain automatically reflects on past experiences to make memories for those experiences stronger.”
Even though there are more studies that try to prove how our rested brain functions better, there’s still pending research that must be done to show in which ways these study breaks could benefit every student’s life, like the ones with ADHD, severe concentration problems and other learning disabilities.
For now, remember that taking study breaks isn’t a bad thing. Take your time and rest! You’ll be able to indulge in some relaxing ‘me’ time. And you’ll help improve your memory and, thus, improve your learning! What a time to be a student, right?
Van, A. (2014). Why People Who Take Breaks Are Smarter Than Those Who Don’t. june 2017, de NextShark Sitio web: https://nextshark.com/why-people-who-take-breaks-are-smarter-than-those-who-dont/
Gregoire, C. (2014). Here’s How Study Breaks Boost Learning. june 2017, de Huffington Post Sitio web: http://www.huffingtonpost.com.mx/entry/study-breaks-boost-learning_n_6028262
Edited by Viveca Shearin