Neuroplasticity and Spaced Repetition
Your brain is composed of billions of neurons and trillions of synapses, connecting the neurons together and forming very complex networks that scientists are trying to unravel the mysteries and engineers are mimicking to create Artificial Intelligence software, but you may already know that.
However, do you know how to use this phenomenal organ to optimize your learning process?
Basically, when you are learning something or practicing some activity, new connections between your neurons are created. This phenomenon is called neuroplasticity: the ability of your brain to create, strengthen or dismantle connections between your neurons.
That's why when you learn something for the first time, you tend to forget it quickly: your neural connections are not strong enough.
The forgetting curve
This phenomenon was studied In the late 19th century by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus carried out many experiments to better understand learning and forgetting.
His most famous finding certainly was the forgetting curve: a curve describing the loss of information that one has learned.
His conclusion was that to maximize retention you need to periodically refresh your knowledge.
Active recall of information not only refreshes the forgetting curve, but makes it decay more slowly afterward.
This, as you may have guessed, means that your neural network encoding the information becomes stronger and stronger.
This is where spaced repetition comes into play: when you want to learn something new, you need to periodically refresh your knowledge to maximize retention.
Spaced repetition in practice
Please, tell me: How to practice spaced repetition?
I personally use Quizlet, but any flashcard application will do it.
The idea is that every week, you create a new deck with what you want to learn and read the deck at a fixed interval.
For this to be as effective and easy as possible, you have to make it a habit and do it every day. Maybe before lunch, maybe before sleeping, just do it every single day. It doesn't need to be for 1 hour, 15-20 minutes is enough.
Now you may want to learn more about how to turn the process of learning new things from a chore into a simple system, and I have good news for you.
I've compiled everything I know about learning into a simple guide: Continuous Learning - My simple system to turn information into actionable knowledge and thrive in the information age. Among other things, you will learn how to grow new skills without having to go back to school, how to organize a knowledge base for easy retrieval, and how to fill it with knowledge.