Overlearning hyperstabilizes a skill by rapidly making neurochemical processing inhibitory-dominant
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Kazuhisa Shibata et al.

This research from Brown University explores how over-learning can effectively lock in performance gains. The authors explain that over-learning is the continuous training of a skill after performance improvement has plateaued.

180 people took part in the research: every person was given a visual task in which they had to spot the orientation of a pattern in an image. The task was sufficiently complex that it took eight rounds to master. Some of the participants were then given a period of over-learning before moving on to a second task, while others were moved straight on to the other task.

The authors found that the next day, when the all of the participants were tested again, those who had done the over-learning saw a dramatic improvement in their retention. While both groups had done equally well the day before, the skill seemed to have ‘sunk in’ and cemented in the over-learners, and they retained an ability that the others had lost.

The authors concluded that over-learning might improve performance by altering chemicals in the brain that ‘lock in’ training.

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Kazuhisa Shibata et al.

Published by:
Nature Neuroscience

Date of publication:
January 2017

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This academic paper explores how ‘practice makes perfect’ by examining evidence that suggests over-learning and repeated practice helps to improve performance and memorisation. It may be particularly useful to educators who take an evidence-based approach to teaching and learning.

Medium scale memory-recall experiment.


Record ID:
R354 / 459
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