While many students opt for the all night cramming sessions, those who rest and reflect on what they have learnt are most likely to do well, researchers say.
It was concluded that our learning ability are boosted when people allow their minds to rest and reflect on things they’ve learned.
The researchers say their findings could have a major impact of the way students are taught.
Scientists have already established that resting the mind, as in daydreaming, helps strengthen memories of events and retention of information.
Now researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have shown that the right kind of mental rest, which strengthens and consolidates memories from recent learning tasks, helps boost future learning.
The results appear online this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Margaret Schlichting, a graduate student researcher, and Alison Preston, an associate professor of psychology and neuroscience, gave participants in the study two learning tasks in which participants were asked to memorise different series of associated photo pairs.
Until now, many scientists assumed that prior memories are more likely to interfere with new learning. This new study shows that at least in some situations, the opposite is true.
‘Nothing happens in isolation,’ says Preston.
‘When you are learning something new, you bring to mind all of the things you know that are related to that new information.
In doing so, you embed the new information into your existing knowledge.’