Study finds that learning by repetition impairs recall of details

Michael Yassa, an assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior, said other other memory techniques should be used to complement repetition.

When learning, practice doesn't always make perfect.

UC Irvine neurobiologists Zachariah Reagh and Michael Yassa have found that while enhances the factual content of memories, it can reduce the amount of detail stored with those memories. This means that with repeated recall, nuanced aspects may fade away.

In the study, which appears this month in Learning & Memory, student participants were asked to look at pictures either once or three times. They were then tested on their memories of those images. The researchers found that multiple views increased factual but actually hindered subjects' ability to reject similar "imposter" pictures. This suggests that the details of those memories may have been shaken loose by repetition.

This discovery supports Reagh's and Yassa's Competitive Trace Theory – published last year in Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience – which posits that the details of a become more subjective the more they're recalled and can compete with bits of other similar memories. The scientists hypothesize that this may even lead to false memories, akin to a brain version of the telephone game.

Yassa, an assistant professor of neurobiology & behavior, said that these findings do not discredit the practice of repetitive . However, he noted, pure repetition alone has limitations. For a more enriching and lasting learning experience through which nuance and detail are readily recalled, other mnemonic techniques should be used to complement repetition.

More information: Learning & Memory, learnmem.cshlp.org/content/21/7/342.short

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Using memories to motivate behavior

Apr 30, 2014

We all know that thinking about exercise isn't the same as doing it. But researchers from the University of New Hampshire have confirmed what may be the next best thing: just thinking about a past exercise experience can ...

Researchers finding ways to erase unhappy memories

Apr 29, 2014

We all have things we'd like to forget - being the victim of a crime, a bad relationship, an embarrassing faux pas. What if we could erase those bad memories? Or at least take the edge off them?

Recommended for you

Researchers unlock mystery of skin's sensory abilities

Dec 19, 2014

Humans' ability to detect the direction of movement of stimuli in their sensory world is critical to survival. Much of this stimuli detection comes from sight and sound, but little is known about how the ...

Tackling neurotransmission precision

Dec 18, 2014

Behind all motor, sensory and memory functions, calcium ions are in the brain, making those functions possible. Yet neuroscientists do not entirely understand how fast calcium ions reach their targets inside ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.