> Preventing intrusive memories after trauma via a brief intervention involving Tetris computer game play in the emergency department: a proof-of-concept randomized controlled trial
We were going through a really tough time dealing with a life-altering diagnosis of one of my siblings. A lot of anger and sadness, especially from my parents.
But - the only thing I actually remember from the hospital was playing Galaga in the hospital game room with my relative. Since I was 4 years old, I always wondered (a) why it is such a vivid memory and (b) why I can't remember my family or myself being upset. Quite surreal to see that this specific scenario has been studied.
I wonder, do you associate Galaga with any bad feelings because of this? Have you played Galaga since then?
Later in life, I also got into meditation for a while. I wonder if there's an argument here that some subset of gamers are predisposed to be good meditators because the two activities induce similar brain states?
And, of course, Tetris is enjoyable anytime...
I would expect those who continued to study for more time would have better recall, but that would be incredible if untrue, ie. you could literally learn more by doing less. Taken to the extreme you seem to learn more by doing less at times. For example you'll learn more sleeping 8 hours each night for a week than staying up for a week straight, but I wonder if these short breaks allow for fatigue recovery and memory consolidation, like sleep, or if they simply provide opportunity to think more about material, which would obviously give an advantage as compared to the people in the studies "controls" that have to learn new information.
Anecdotally, I definitely feel that meditation and breaks helps me consolidate my learnings and raise my overall productivity, but I'm not sure I find the particular scientific studies described here to be highly convincing of that.
I'm sure many engineers are familiar with the concept of banging their head against the keyboard all day on what's a seemingly simple issue/bug, only to find the solution miraculously appear hours later in their heads out of thin air - maybe over dinner talking to a friend, maybe awaking in the middle of the night, maybe in the shower the next morning. The point is it all happened a good chunk of time away from the glow of the screen with their debugger at hand. It's a combination of having space to process subconsciously which is often spurred on by a context switch.
I imagine a similar thing happens with learning, perhaps even the act of trying to recall something that happened in the past itself causes a deeper processing/association in your brain. All of a sudden you're not relying so much on rote memory but deeper, somewhat disparate contextual cues to aid in the recall.
TLDR; sometimes you want a new perspective, sometime re-energise, taking a break is an easy way to get both. You
That's why people respond better to different teaching styles, different angles of explanation, top-down vs. bottom-up, etc - because they better align with how their creative mind works.
Paridoxically, the close you are to forgetting something when you review it, the better the learning is. Specifically, the more effort it takes to recall it, the better you learn
So in short, I think consistently struggling to recall something is an indication that you need to build a better recall strategy for it.
Of course I don't think of them as bad, only "If its hard to remember, it'll be hard to forget". Aka, the ones that I have a hard time learning are the ones I always remember. I'll probably never forget the german word for security guard, die Sicherheitsbedienstete but it took me ages to memorize it.
For some odd reason that is my intuition, which appears to be not that of everyone. But my approach to learning is "failure is a good thing, its how you learn", which might be all the difference amounts to in the end.
Or, they agonize over the answer for too long, then when they flip it over, they think "Of course!" but move along almost immediately.
And I think you're right also; when you finally get it, it's hard to forget.
Roughly like this:
t0: hear the word "dog";
my auditory registers record it
t1: my brain processes the word "dog";
I imagine what "dog" looks like
hear the word "cat" concurrently, goes into registers
t2: my brain processes the word "cat"
I imagine what "cat" looks like
hear the word "lamb" concurrently, goes into registers
> if they simply provide opportunity to think more about material, which would obviously give an advantage as compared to the people in the studies "controls" that have to learn new information.
The second point I want to make is eyewitness testimony and memory biases. Given enough time, a witness can tell untruth. There is a limit to how long we can keep the "truth" in our brain. Long-term memory is not a perfect storage system. Without rote rehearsal, our memories will decay. During our sleep, some believe (at least this is how I was taught in my class) that the brain will do "garbage collection", basically removing things the brain don't think is important.
Onto the third and the last point. Our brain can develop by forming new neurons (or undevelop skills by killing neurons). When a person becomes deaf after an accident, then his/her speech ability will lose over time. Thanks to our neuroplasticity, we can reverse the change by learning again, though we may not recover 100%. This is happening to me: some of my cognitive functions have stopped functioning well after an accident last summer, I have been trying hard to recover, even though there are some improvements, I don't know how much can recover. In general, I am impaired and disabled.
I just started my neuroscience studies, so I recommend reading on dendrite spines. They are "cute" and play vital role involving memory.
I'm not sure about this:
>> we should aim for “minimal interference” during these breaks – deliberately avoiding any activity that could tamper with the delicate task of memory formation. So no running errands, checking your emails, or surfing the web on your smartphone.
Whilst I agree that cluttering up the brain with other similar sorts of information (so stuff in emails or web) is counter-productive, I feel (again just my own experience) that undertaking a completely different sort of activity which exercises the brain in different ways (so for me things like a bike ride, chopping firewood, kicking a footy with the kids) can have great results. Getting back to the original task, I do often find progress has come out of "thin air".
"... You really need to give your brain the chance for a complete recharge with no distractions.
- The mystery of why you can’t remember being a baby
- The man who can’t trust his own brain
- A new way to master your emotions
An excuse to do nothing may seem like a perfect mnemonic technique for the lazy student..."
There would be gaps of time where you would just ‘think’.
Now it feels like you don’t go a second without distraction. Any gap of seconds is automatically filled by picking up your smartphone.
- Blaise Pascal (1623 - 1662)
Another thing is, a study was done where one group practiced the piano, the other group just sat in front of the piano imagining practicing, and another group did no practice.
The group that just imagined practicing ended up playing almost as well as the group that was actually practicing, and both groups were obviously better than the group that did no practice.
The mind is crazy.
So, at least mindfulness meditation, is passive. And that's a rather popular form of meditation these days. It may have the same effects the article discusses, as a result.
(NOTE: The focus on breath during mindfulness training is temporary, and is really just a technique to get you to A) relax and B) begin to focus on the present and sensations you don't normally observe).
In the first category I would put techniques which teach you to focus on a meditation object, most often the breath or a mantra. If someone says "mindfulness meditation" I generally think they are referring to this kind of meditation, and examplars can be found in books like Mindfulness in Plain English or The Mind Illuminated (even though there are also both quite different approaches to meditation, one being focused on "insight" first and the other based on "concentration" first). They don't teach you to suppress thoughts, but they teach you to focus on a particular thing and IGNORE thought, which has the effect, long term, of causing those thoughts not to arise.
But there are also schools that focus on "open awareness" or "just sitting" styles of meditation. This is very common teaching in Zen Buddhism but is also practiced in some schools Tibetan Buddhism, at least in Dzogchen. This, I think, is what you are referring to; where you sit and observe at a mental distance whatever thoughts arise. Eventually, this also causes thoughts to arrive much less frequently.
If you are referring to the research literature, however, I think mindfulness generally refers to the first kind. As with everything, the borders blur together.
In practice, most beginners (a phase that can last for years) find it much easier to use an attentional anchor like the breath. Even advanced practitioners can find great benefit in such a practice.
As long as one understands these nuances, then yes, it is possible for "mindfulness" not to interrupt the natural learning process that can take place when we rest.
"Mindfulness, she tells the medical school audience, is the process of actively noticing new things, relinquishing preconceived mindsets, and then acting on the new observations. Much of the time, she says, our behavior is mindless."
Here's the kicker: the two most common techiques, rereading and cramming, are the least effective.
The underlying theme about what is effective: anything you can to do to make learning take more effort, while not hindering it, generally improves it. That includes spaced repetition, practicing recall in different settings, and even something as mundane as pre-modifying the text to replace random letters with underscores. Also, testing is very important to both to measurement of learning and the actual learning process itself. Don't forget a proper feedback loop either.
Lastly, something I appreciated reading in the books was how as often as possible, there were studies done in classrooms to try to quantify how small technique and curriculum changes actually impact student learning.
Needless to say, in the morning, he could rip off all 13 in a row without effort. I've found this method to work for me, too.
We should have put in 15 minutes of undisturbed rest after reading this in 1900. We didn't, and promptly forgot how not to forget.
Information and convenience is useful up to a certain point after which it can actually become a hindrance.
There are billions spent on making you believe otherwise.
Guided meditation would certainly seem to be more closer to the group that was asked to think on an event, and that reduced their recall below the "do nothing" group.
A non-guided meditation more focused on letting thoughts pass and quieting your inner dialog might affect memory formation differently.
I will use this for the rest of my life. By the way I used the technique after reading the article. Likely this is why I recall the 11-fold figure. I even remember the numbers: 7% recall to 79% recall for the case I just quoted. This is far from normal for me.
This is probably the most important article I read in the past year on HN.
For healthy people it was 10-30%