The neuroscience of effective studying

[In an article with Student Services, Dr. Handy] discussed how the “savvy student”, in his terms, can use neuroscience research to optimize their academic performance.

According to Dr. Handy, “Bringing neuroscience into learning has really expanded our understanding of study strategies and what the smart, effective student can do to bring their A-game to the academic experience.”

Strategy #1 — Space it out, don’t do it all at once
“The literature has shown that the brain is more effective at absorbing and retaining information if you have multiple, shorter study sessions than if you cram everything in all at once.”

Strategy #2 — Test yourself in the same way you will be tested on the exam
That’s why using flashcards can be a really effective way of studying. You are not only reviewing the material but you are essentially creating the conditions under which you will be tested.

“Not only does the brain re-engage with the material and that sort of solidifies it, you’re also practicing what you’re going to do at the test. People have shown that’s very effective,”

Strategy #3 — Lose the electronics

“There are studies out there showing that when somebody is on a computer in a classroom, not only did they perform less well but it’s distracting to everybody around them.”

[Also,] taking notes by hand forces you to engage with the material on a deeper level than when you’re using a computer:

“You’re going slower, you have to assimilate what’s being said and summarize it. The idea is that the deeper you engage with the material, the better you remember it.”

Strategy #4 — The Great Triad: Eat, sleep, and exercise

“This is where thinking about the brain more holistically is really vital. How do you optimize, not just the material you’re learning, but how do you optimize the brain itself? How do you bring the brain’s A-game to the table?”

The answer: take care of your brain just as you would any other muscle, tissue, or organ.

“The more you can actually exercise on a regular basis, the better you can eat, and the more you’re paying attention to sleep — these are all vitally important for your brain to be working at its optimum.”

A full interview with Ryan Patrick Jones, a Graduate student in Journalism can be read on the Student Services website.