Photo by Alexis Brown on Unsplash

If you read a phone number and then do some other task afterwards, do you think you will still remember the phone number? John Sweller, a professor emeritus at the University of New South Wales, disagrees. He firmly believes that the brain can only hold a limited amount of memory before having to refresh. This is why he believes that taking regular breaks is a necessity for effective learning, as it allows the brain to consume all the information thrown at it at once and then refresh to continue learning.

He believes that in order to retain new information in long-term memory, it is crucial to present it in limited amounts and then to take a break to digest it all before continuing. This allows us to not be overloaded with information, and to forget what was said earlier to make space in memory for what is being said in the present. Sweller and his colleagues discovered that our working memory may suffer from getting worn out after being excessively used. In other words, our memory will tend to shut down and stop working effectively if it is continually being asked to retain large quantities of new information at a time.

The spacing effect is the established finding that students tend to better understand and preserve new content if it is given over spaced-out learning intervals rather than crammed into one block of time. Sweller suggests that working for 20 to 30 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break is effective as it allows the brain to refresh its memory. However, more studies and research need to be done to confirm this hypothesis.

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This post was written by Bhavya Lamba