THE IDIOM'S GUIDE TO LEARNING NEW SKILLS

Practice Makes Perfect?

Taking regular rests could increase learning capacity.
Practice, practice, practice. Three cardinal rules for learning new skills, right? Maybe not. In a study by the National Institute of Health, it was found that the greatest change to the brain came during the rests between learning activities, not during the learning itself. 

If at first you don’t succeed…
Here’s the science bit. Healthy volunteers were asked to type a series of numbers as many times as possible for ten seconds, take a ten-second break and repeat 35 times. Looking at the data, it was found that the volunteers’ performance improved primarily during the rest periods, not during typing; and the gains they recorded during rests added up to their overall performance gains throughout the exercise.

Good things come to those who wait
By looking at the pattern of brain waves, the researchers found patterns suggesting the volunteers’ brains were creating memories during the rest periods (if you want to get technical, the changes in beta rhythms correlated with the improvements in the volunteers performance). So, by waiting (or, having a rest), they were solidifying their learning into memory.

Have your cake, and eat it too
(The practice being the ‘cake’, and the rest being the ‘too’.)

So what am I really saying here? Essentially, if you’re trying to learn something new, or want to get better at a certain task, taking breaks is just as important as perseverance in order to solidify the information as a memory in your brain. Remember those tips we had about habit-making? (Of course you do, but in case you need a refresher, here they are again.) Try combining those with taking short breaks to develop new skills more quickly and easily.

FOR THE NERDY: Take a break. [Source: Neuroscience News]

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