Train Your Brain to Remember Anything You Learn With This Simple, 20-Minute Habit

Not too long ago, a colleague and I were lamenting the process of growing older and the inevitable increasing difficulty of remembering things we want to remember. That becomes particularly annoying when you attend a conference or a learning seminar and find yourself forgetting the entire session just days later.

But then my colleague told me about the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, a 100-year-old formula developed by German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus, who pioneered the experimental study of memory. The psychologist’s work has resurfaced and has been making its way around college campuses as a tool to help students remember lecture material. For example, the University of Waterloo explains the curve and how to use it on the Campus Wellness website.

I teach at Indiana University and a student mentioned it to me in class as a study aid he uses. Intrigued, I tried it out too–more on that in a moment. The Forgetting Curve describes how we retain or lose information that we take in, using a one-hour lecture as the basis of the model. The curve is at its highest point (the most information retained) right after the one-hour lecture. One day after the lecture, if you’ve done nothing with the material, you’ll have lost between 50 and 80 percent of it from your memory.

By day seven, that erodes to about 10 percent retained, and by day 30, the information is virtually gone (only 2-3 percent retained). After this, without any intervention, you’ll likely need to relearn the material from scratch. Sounds about right from my experience. But here comes the amazing part–how easily you can train your brain to reverse the curve.


With just 20 minutes of work, you’ll retain almost all of what you learned.

This is possible through the practice of what’s called spaced intervals, where you revisit and reprocess the same material, but in a very specific pattern. Doing so means it takes you less and less time to retrieve the information from your long-term memory when you need it. Here’s where the 20 minutes and very specifically spaced intervals come in.

Ebbinghaus’s formula calls for you to spend 10 minutes reviewing the material within 24 hours of having received it (that will raise the curve back up to almost 100 percent retained again). Seven days later, spend five minutes to “reactivate” the same material and raise the curve up again. By day 30, your brain needs only two to four minutes to completely “reactivate” the same material, again raising the curve back up.

Thus, a total of 20 minutes invested in review at specific intervals and, voila, a month later you have fantastic retention of that interesting seminar. After that, monthly brush-ups of just a few minutes will help you keep the material fresh.


Here’s what happened when I tried it.

I put the specific formula to the test. I keynoted at a conference and was also able to take in two other one-hour keynotes at the conference. For one of the keynotes, I took no notes, and sure enough, just shy of a month later I can barely remember any of it.

For the second keynote, I took copious notes and followed the spaced interval formula. A month later, by golly, I remember virtually all of the material. And in case if you’re wondering, both talks were equally interesting to me–the difference was the reversal of Ebbinghaus’ Forgetting Curve.

So the bottom line here is if you want to remember what you learned from an interesting seminar or session, don’t take a “cram for the exam” approach when you want to use the info. That might have worked in college (although Waterloo University specifically advises against cramming, encouraging students to follow the aforementioned approach). Instead, invest the 20 minutes (in spaced-out intervals), so that a month later it’s all still there in the old noggin. Now that approach is really using your head.

Science has proven that reading can enhance your cognitive function, develop your language skills, and increase your attention span. Plus, not only does the act of reading train your brain for success, but you’ll also learn new things! The founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates, said, “Reading is still the main way that I both learn new things and test my understanding.”

By: Scott Mautz

Source: Pocket

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Critics:

Dr. John N. Morris is the director of social and health policy research at the Harvard-affiliated Institute for Aging Research. He believes there are three main guidelines you should follow when training your mind:

  1. Do Something Challenging: Whatever you do to train your brain, it should be challenging and take you beyond your comfort zone.
  2. Choose Complex Activities: Good brain training exercises should require you to practice complex thought processes, such as creative thinking and problem-solving.
  3. Practice Consistently: You know the saying: practice makes perfect! Dr. Morris says, “You can’t improve memory if you don’t work at it. The more time you devote to engaging your brain, the more it benefits.”
  4. If you’re looking for reading material, check out our guides covering 40 must-read books and the best books for entrepreneurs.
  5. Practice self-awareness. Whenever you feel low, check-in with yourself and try to identify the negative thought-loop at play. Perhaps you’re thinking something like, “who cares,” “I’ll never get this right,” “this won’t work,” or “what’s the point?” 
  6. Science has shown that mindfulness meditation helps engage new neural pathways in the brain. These pathways can improve self-observational skills and mental flexibility – two attributes that are crucial for success. What’s more, another study found that “brief, daily meditation enhances attention, memory, mood, and emotional regulation in non-experienced meditators.”
  7. Brain Age Concentration Training is a brain training and mental fitness system for the Nintendo 3DS system.
  8. Queendom has thousands of personality tests and surveys. It also has an extensive collection of “brain tools”—including logic, verbal, spatial, and math puzzles; trivia quizzes; and aptitude tests
  9. Claiming to have the world’s largest collection of brain teasers, Braingle’s free website provides more than 15,000 puzzles, games, and other brain teasers as well as an online community of enthusiasts.

 

Tanzania Considers Crypto and Boosts Bitcoin as Nations Line Up Behind El Salvador To Embrace Decentralized Finance

Bitcoin

Tanzania became the latest country to signal its support for digital assets this weekend as its president instructed financial authorities to prepare for widespread use of cryptocurrencies, elevating bitcoin prices further after El Salvador became the first country to make bitcoin legal tender last week and Elon Musk outlined plans for Tesla to resume accepting bitcoin as a form of payment.

Key Facts

President Samia Suluhu Hassan called on the Tanzanian Central Bank Sunday to begin “working on” facilitating widespread use of cryptocurrencies in the East African nation.  While many in Tanzania have not yet embraced decentralized finance, Hassan said the Central Bank should “be ready for the changes and not be caught unprepared.

”Hassan is one of the most senior politicians to signal support for digital assets since El Salvador voted to adopt bitcoin as legal tender last week and helped give the flagging market a boost. The announcement helped bitcoin gain nearly 10% in 24 hours, nearly reaching $40,000 a token Monday morning.

The token was also buoyed on by news that Tesla would resume its use of bitcoin when there is proof the asset is obtained using around 50% clean energy.

What To Watch For

There is growing popular support for bitcoin adoption in Nigeria that also gained momentum over the weekend. Russell Okung, an NFL player of Nigerian descent, penned an open letter to the Nigerian president imploring the country to adopt a Bitcoin standard so as to avoid “falling behind.” Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, one of the most high profile crypto enthusiasts, tweeted his support of the idea a number of times over the weekend.

Key Background

While reaching its highest point in several weeks, bitcoin, along with the wider crypto market, is still recovering from a tailspin that rapidly wiped over $700 billion from the market’s value. This slump was primarily induced by Tesla announcing it would no longer accept bitcoin due to environmental concerns and China cracking down on the assets.

Support from the likes of El Salvador, alongside other countries and banks that may begin to adopt bitcoin, or other cryptocurrency tokens, the market has slowly started to recover, though remains volatile. Beyond Tanzania, lawmakers in a number of Latin American countries have expressed at least a casual interest in following El Salvador’s footsteps, including Brazil and Panama.

Further Reading

El Salvador Makes History As World’s First Country To Make Bitcoin Legal Tender (Forbes)

Tanzanian president urges central bank to prepare for crypto (Coin Telegraph)

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Follow me on Twitter @theroberthart or email me at rhart@forbes.com

Source: Tanzania Considers Crypto—And Boosts Bitcoin—As Nations Line Up Behind El Salvador To Embrace Decentralized Finance

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Critics:

The European Union has passed no specific legislation relative to the status of bitcoin as a currency, but has stated that VAT/GST is not applicable to the conversion between traditional (fiat) currency and bitcoin. VAT/GST and other taxes (such as income tax) still apply to transactions made using bitcoins for goods and services. 

In October 2015, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that “The exchange of traditional currencies for units of the ‘bitcoin’ virtual currency is exempt from VAT” and that “Member States must exempt, inter alia, transactions relating to ‘currency, bank notes and coins used as legal tender‘”, making bitcoin a currency as opposed to being a commodity. According to judges, the tax should not be charged because bitcoins should be treated as a means of payment.

According to the European Central Bank, traditional financial sector regulation is not applicable to bitcoin because it does not involve traditional financial actors. Others in the EU have stated, however, that existing rules can be extended to include bitcoin and bitcoin companies.

The European Central Bank classifies bitcoin as a convertible decentralized virtual currency. In July 2014 the European Banking Authority advised European banks not to deal in virtual currencies such as bitcoin until a regulatory regime was in place.

In 2016 the European Parliament’s proposal to set up a task force to monitor virtual currencies to combat money laundering and terrorism, passed by 542 votes to 51, with 11 abstentions, has been sent to the European Commission for consideration.

See also

References

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