Plug your leaking brain to remember more

brain with a leakDo you sometimes feel like your brain is like a leaky bucket, you’re continually filling it up with information, but the information seems to trickle out, so when you look round only about 10 % of what you put in, is still there.

This week’s Neurotechnology Tip shows you how to push up that number, by plugging the leaky hole.

Understanding why there is a leak

Turns out that when you are pouring information into your brain, getting it to stick is all about laying down strong neuronal pathways. The strength of the neuronal pathways depends on how it is made.

In an average person, they will be able to remember

  • 5% of what they learn when they’ve learned from a lecture.
  • 10% of what they learn when they’ve learned from reading.
  • 20% of what they learn from a movie.
  • 30% of what they learn when they see a demonstration.
  • 50% of what they learn when engaged in a group discussion.
  • 75% of what they learn when they practice what they learned.
  • 90% of what they learn when they teach someone else/use immediately.

Are you allowing most of the info to leak out, because you’re relying on your teacher/lecturer or the textbook, to get things to stick ?

Plug the hole – teach it

The learning pyramid suggests that the best way to plug the hole, is actually to teach someone else.

The value of teaching it to someone else comes from the fact that you learn what you don’t know and in the process learn it.

You don’t want to look like a twit when you’re “teaching” it, so your brain works through it. Your brain is forced to concentrate really hard. It can’t tune out when it gets stuck or pretend that the concept has actually been grasped, because it will be on show.

Who to teach ?

Anyone or anything. As long as you’ve got a captive audience.

  • In a perfect world, a friend who is trying to study the same material and not getting it. You will end up looking good i.e. you’re a fabulous friend, but you will probably get really challenging feedback. Your friend studying the material will know enough to ask you tough questions.
  • The next option, is another human being, willing to sit still long enough and listen. A parent, brother or sister are all potential options. Depending on their age and aptitubrain with the leak pluggedde, they may be able to ask you a question or two, which forces you to clarify your thoughts.
  • The next option, the family pet. You might need to adjust the tone a little to keep the animal motivated to stick around and listen to you. I used this strategy often when growing up. Think our Labrador was one of the smartest dogs in the neighbourhood. Nina loved exam time, since the level of attention she received rocketed, as she got the run down on who started world war 2 etc.
  • The final option for those of you who really can’t find a living “pupil”, stuffed toys make good pupils. Teach the teddy bear your boyfriend gave you for Valentines. It may not be able to talk back but it can’t run away.

Sticky tape the hole closed

Listening or reading something is just listening or reading. It’s not real learning. Real learning comes from making mistakes. Mistakes require you to do something.

Stick tape that hole closed and teach “a friend”.

To wire up your brain a little each week ………………..

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Further reading

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Hire Dr Sandy from a Spoonful of Science to be the keynote speaker at your next event.

Did you learn something new or do you have a different perspective ? I’d love to hear from you so post me a comment below…..

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