Study finds that learning by repetition impairs recall of details

June 23, 2014, University of California, Irvine
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.

Explore further: Study creates new memories by directly changing the brain

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

Related Stories

Study creates new memories by directly changing the brain

September 10, 2013
By studying how memories are made, UC Irvine neurobiologists created new, specific memories by direct manipulation of the brain, which could prove key to understanding and potentially resolving learning and memory disorders.

fMRI research suggests classic mathematic models of memory, familiarity correct

June 6, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—When it comes to familiarity, a slew of memories including seemingly unrelated ones can come flooding into the brain, according to mathematical theories called global similarity models.

Using memories to motivate behavior

April 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 ...

It's all coming back to me now: Researchers find caffeine enhances memory

January 12, 2014
For some, it's the tradition of steeping tealeaves to brew the perfect cup of tea. For others, it's the morning shuffle to a coffee maker for a hot jolt of java. Then there are those who like their wake up with the kind of ...

Researchers finding ways to erase unhappy memories

April 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?

The beautiful game and the beautiful mind

June 23, 2014
The World Cup stimulates not only passion and nationalism, but reminiscence. The heroic 2-3 effort of the Socceroos against the Netherlands was the centre of many conversations this week, but will also be remembered for years ...

Recommended for you

Research reveals atomic-level changes in ALS-linked protein

January 18, 2018
For the first time, researchers have described atom-by-atom changes in a family of proteins linked to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of brain disorders known as frontotemporal dementia and degenerative diseases ...

Fragile X finding shows normal neurons that interact poorly

January 18, 2018
Neurons in mice afflicted with the genetic defect that causes Fragile X syndrome (FXS) appear similar to those in healthy mice, but these neurons fail to interact normally, resulting in the long-known cognitive impairments, ...

How your brain remembers what you had for dinner last night

January 17, 2018
Confirming earlier computational models, researchers at University of California San Diego and UC San Diego School of Medicine, with colleagues in Arizona and Louisiana, report that episodic memories are encoded in the hippocampus ...

Recording a thought's fleeting trip through the brain

January 17, 2018
University of California, Berkeley neuroscientists have tracked the progress of a thought through the brain, showing clearly how the prefrontal cortex at the front of the brain coordinates activity to help us act in response ...

Midbrain 'start neurons' control whether we walk or run

January 17, 2018
Locomotion comprises the most fundamental movements we perform. It is a complex sequence from initiating the first step, to stopping when we reach our goal. At the same time, locomotion is executed at different speeds to ...

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

January 16, 2018
Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: "No, that's hilarious. [...] It's like ...

0 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.