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Give your brain detention!

    Most learning, practicing and repeating is always work, effort, toil and trouble, even if some people want to tell you that it is pure pleasure. But there is a special kind of learning that happens almost without any effort – only you have to know about it and be able to use this kind of learning.

    What actually happens in your brain when you learn something? Scientists have only recently begun to investigate these processes in more detail. One of the most important discoveries is that when you learn, your brain undergoes remodeling processes: Nerve cells grow and form many new branches, so that ultimately your brain becomes denser and more interconnected.The left picture shows a tiny section of your brain before learning, the right picture shows the same section after learning.

    These growth processes take a lot of time and often last for many hours. Especially immediately after learning, these new connections grow especially fast, with the learning content only now being brought to the right places in the brain, where it then remains for almost eternity.

    Now, you are usually not even aware that your brain is still hard at work. You are most likely to notice this when you can’t really concentrate on a new task and you have the feeling that you are somehow blocked. But this means nothing else than that your brain is still busy with the rebuilding processes of the previous learning and does not want to be disturbed. Because if you disturb the brain in this work, then some important connections grow little or not at all, and the net in your brain has then the well-known gaps.

    We learn from this that not only the actual learning and practice time itself is important, but also the time afterwards. Because everything you do after the work influences the processes in your brain. Therefore you should give your brain the possibility to do its work in peace and quiet when planning your learning (learning tip: The two secrets of the Time Master). You don’t want to be disturbed while working.

    How can you use this knowledge about your brain in your daily learning?

    First of all, by taking a longer break after a particularly strenuous and concentrated learning task. It is important that you do not do things that strain your brain too much. So it’s a good idea to choose tidying up your room, vacuuming, shopping or walking the family dog as a “break”, because your brain can continue to work for you in peace. With proper planning, you can get twice the study time without having to put in twice the effort.

    An extra tip: The brain continues to work not only after the actual learning, but also after a repetition of learning material. Therefore, it is a good idea to repeat the most important material just before going to bed, because then you will learn even while you sleep!