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Study Up For 'Think': Want To Learn More? Here's How To Trick Your Brain

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Benedict Carey of the New York Times recommends distributing or "spacing" studying time, as it helps increase the amount of information retained.

We tend to associate "studying" with “hitting the books” -- lots of discipline and focus. At 1 p.m. on Think, education reporter Benedict Carey of the New York Times explains how new brain science affirms the wandering mind over a one-track approach. His new book is called How We Learn.

Take a quiz put together by Careycalled "How Good Are You At Teaching The Art of Learning?" In the key provided, Carey suggests that distractions can actually help in rethinking problems and changing the context of your usual studying setting deepens learning.

And the way students take notes in class can affect the way they retain information. The popularity of laptops as a note-taking tool has risen as technology has advanced. But ScienceDaily summarizes recent research done by Princeton University psychological scientist Pam Mueller and psychology researcher Daniel Oppenheimer. The two found that those choosing to type notes were subject to “mindless transcription” of lectures compared to those who were able to find conceptual understanding by hand-writing notes.

Studying isn’t the only way we grasp material -- learning also goes back to pedagogical methods. Carey writes for the New York Times that one way to improve the studying process is through pre-testing. Even before any instruction, tests are an effective way of altering memory (and taken sooner, studies have shown, yield better results). These pre-tests not only introduce concepts, but point out “fluency illusions,” or our ideas on what we think we know.

Listen to ‘Think’, Monday through Thursday at noon and 9 p.m., on KERA 90.1 FM or via online streaming.