The Brain: Do We Learn Better Under Pressure?

Most of us have our own approach to learning, whether that be studying for weeks leading up to a test or burying your head in books the night before. What we don’t know is which method of learning our brains respond to best. 

First, it’s important to understand how the brain works. Brains are made up of billions of neurons and brain cells; these brain cells are all connected and send electrical signals back and forth which helps us to understand and experience sensations. 

As we’re learning, our neurons form new connections which creates changes within our brain and allows us to store new information. 

This means, that by learning, the connections within our brains become stronger and enhance our intellectual abilities. 

While we know that learning can help to strengthen our minds, is there a certain type of learning that will provide us with the best result?

To find out, experts ran a study on a number of students who were asked to participate in either cramming or block learning. The students were given a 250 word passage to read and memorise over four lots of five minute blocks. 

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Some of the students used their time to read the passage four times over in quick succession, while others read the passage once before doing three revision tests. According to the results of the study, students who read the passage four times essentially using an intensive cramming style of study, managed to retain 80 percent of the information within five minutes. 

While this seemed to prove that cramming worked for a majority of the students, when asked to take the test a week later, only 40 percent of the information was recalled. 

Students who gave the passage a single read and repeated revision managed to recall around 70 percent of the information. 

Cosmos Magazine journalist Matthew Agius reveals how different types of learning can help humans to unlock their full potential. 

Tune into the full chat below…