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An effortless way to improve your memory

https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20180208-an-effortless-way-to-strengthen-your-memory

bbc.com

An effortless way to improve your memory
This story is featured in BBC Future's "Best of 2018" collection. Discover more of our picks. When trying to memorise new material, it's easy to assume that the more work you put in, the better you will perform. Yet taking the occasional down time - to do literally nothing - may be exactly what you need.

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Memorizing new material

Memorizing new material

When we try to memorize new information, we assume that the more work we put in, the better we will do.

But, our memory for new information is the most fragile just after it has first been encoded. It is more susceptible to interference from further information.

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Take some downtime

Take some downtime

Aiming for minimal interference - to do literally nothing - is the best way to consolidate the facts and remember it better.

Research found that short periods of rest increased the ability to recall information up to 30 % in healthy individuals. For people with neurological injury, such as a stroke, the ability to recall after some rest, places them almost within the range of healthy people.

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We remember better after rest

We remember better after rest

When memories are initially encoded, they pass through a period of consolidation that cements them in long-term storage.

It was once thought to happen mostly during sleep; studies have found that it is not limited to sleep, because it happens during periods of wakeful rest, too.

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