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

Why upper motor neurons degenerate in ALS

5 minutes ago

For the first time, scientists have revealed a mechanism underlying the cellular degeneration of upper motor neurons, a small group of neurons in the brain recently shown to play a major role in ALS pathology.

Study finds novel compound switches off epilepsy development

1 hour ago

Researchers at the LSU Health New Orleans Neuroscience Center of Excellence have found that a novel compound they discovered helps curtail the onset and progression of temporal lobe epilepsy. The finding, which may contribute ...

A challenge to expedite Genervon's new ASL drug

23 hours ago

(Medical Xpress)—The Ice Bucket Challenge to raise awareness for Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) went viral on social media last summer. Over 1.2 million videos were posted on Facebook alone. The difficulty ...

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.