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How to develop your mental capacity

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Learning could be harder as one grows older but Gabriel Wyner, an opera singer and author of Fluent Forever, says the best way to learn and retain anything in our memories is to challenge ourselves at remembering it instead of reading and re-reading, for example, a list of vocabulary words.

You should read just once and test yourself repeatedly, Gabriel advised.

While there is a growing body of research going on to prove this method of developing one’s mental capacity, psychologists say “the testing effect” works.

In a 2003 study, cited in Henry L. Roediger III and Jeffrey D. Karpicke’s meta-analysis, the power of testing human brains’ ability to retain information was analysed using participants who were asked to review a list of 40 words five times or review it once before taking four recall tests. The different groups also took recall tests either a week later or within 5 minutes.

Findings showed that those who read their word lists five times earned high marks from tests conducted within 5 minutes whereas those who read just once and took their recall tests a week later, scored even higher.

These results highlight the effectiveness of testing one’s memory to boost long-term retention of information.

Nonetheless, recent research on the study approach suggests that users should combine testing with immediate feedback, for example, checking for the right and wrong answers right after the exercise. This procedure makes learning more effective, helps sharpen the memory, and is better than cramming for longer hours.

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