The Reason for Repetition: How Repetition Helps Us Acquire
We have all experienced that magic moment when, after days, months, or fifty-fifty years of practicing something, nosotros nail information technology: nosotros score the perfect three-point-shot in basketball, our easily come together to complete a flawless Mozart sonata on the piano, or we manage to parallel park the perfect distance from the adjourn on a crowded street.
You have probably heard the expression “practice
perfect” countless times since childhood, and it’s truthful that our functioning gets meliorate when we practice doing the same things over and over.
But why exactly does repetition aid united states of america learn and meliorate?
It all comes downwardly to the way cells in our brain communicate, and the physical changes that they undergo when they communicate repeatedly as we practice the same activity over and over.
Our brains are made up of neurons, which are specialized cells that talk with each other using electric signals called activity potentials. Here’due south what they wait similar:
The major parts of the neuron are the
dendrites, structures that receive signals from other cells, the
trunk, which interprets those signals, and the
axon, a long, wire-similar structure where the signals travel forth to the next neuron.
The axon is shielded past a white, fat substance called
myelin, which acts every bit insulation. Myelinated axons make upward the “white matter” in your brain, complementary to “gray affair,” which is composed of cell bodies.
If you think of the neuron equally a power cord, the axon is the alive wire, while the myelin is the rubber insulation. The amend insulated the axon, the faster the point can travel from one neuron to the next.
Whenever nosotros perform an activeness, for case, boot a soccer ball, the neurons involved in that activity commencement firing electrical signals, or activeness potentials, and course an agile network of cells. I consequence of repeatedly practicing the activity may be increasing myelin effectually the network, leading to faster and more efficient processing of the cell signals — and better operation.
Spaced Repetition: Space Out Your Learning to Boost Memory
And so now that we understand the neuroscientific footing of why repetition works, how can y’all use it to your daily life — your upcoming Castilian quiz, for example?
Before you lot run off to repeat your new Spanish vocab words 10 thousand times in the mirror, you should know that repetition works best if you lot infinite it out over time — something aptly chosen spaced repetition. If you lot are trying to commit something to memory, try repeating the information throughout the day, at increasing intervals. For example, you might outset, look at a word on a flashcard, and echo it in your head a few times. And then look at it one infinitesimal after. Then five minutes later, then ten, and then on. Myelination is a slow procedure that works over days and weeks. (Encounter this fascinating account of myelination in the context of Moscow’s Spartak Tennis Club, where young tennis stars are grown over multiple years).
Another thing to keep in mind is that while repetition builds myelin, if you’re consistently repeating the
action, or, say, switching
cola, you lot will encode that information incorrectly, and brand the neural pathways for the incorrect action stronger, which is annihilation only helpful. In this sense, it’s not “do makes perfect”; it’southward “perfect practice makes perfect.”
Then exercise, exercise, do — but advisedly.
Learning Through Repetition Does Not Apply to Physical Activities