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A Proven Way to Learn Anything According To Neuroscience

By | Debbie Hampton |

Whether you are a salesperson attending a training session on the new inventory tracking software, a work-from-home freelancer listening to a webinar about Facebook ads, or a college student tackling classical literature and biochemistry in the same semester, the need to be able to continually learn is vital to us all.

How Learning Happens in Your Head 

It may help, first of all, to understand the process that has to take place in your brain in order for you to learn something. In How Learning And Memory Happen In Your Head, I explain:

Learning (or the opposite, forgetting) occurs in your brain through what’s known as the information processing system. All incoming stimuli, everything you see, hear, or smell, goes first into short-term memory (STM), which is similar to your email inbox. Information is held here for a matter of seconds before it’s either attended to by working memory (WM) or discarded. Unless you make a specific effort to notice and record information, a large portion of what’s taken in by your brain is never processed and learned. 

Info that you attend to gets moved from STM to WM, which is the active part of the information processing system. This is where conscious thinking and remembering happen. In about 5 – 20 seconds, your WM screens and decides how to handle the stimuli. Information must be processed before it can be transferred into long-term memory (LTM).

Information enters LTM from WM and must be classified, organized, and stored. It can then be committed to LTM through repetition, such as studying for a test or repeatedly going through the steps of tying your shoes, or associating it with material already in LTM. The three main activities of LTM are storage, deletion, and retrieval. Information retrieval can take the form of recall or recognition. In recall, information is reproduced from your brain. With recognition, you know that you’ve seen the information before and are familiar with it.

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