Is group studying more effective?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Not if you want to remember anything:

Humans routinely encode and retrieve experiences in interactive, collaborative contexts. Yet much of what we know about human memory comes from research on individuals working in isolation. Some recent research has examined collaboration during retrieval, but not much is known about how collaboration during encoding affects memory. We examined this issue. Participants created episodes by elaborating on study materials alone or collaboratively, and they later performed a cued-recall task alone, with the study partner, or with a different partner (Experiment 1). Collaborative encoding impaired recall. This counterintuitive outcome was found for both individual and group recall, even when the same partners collaborated across encoding and retrieval. This impairment was significantly reduced, but persisted, when the encoding instructions encouraged free-flowing collaboration (Experiment 2). Thus, the collaborative-encoding deficit is robust in nature and likely occurs because collaborative encoding produces less effective cues for later retrieval.

Source: “When two is too many: Collaborative encoding impairs memory” from Memory & Cognition

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How can you improve learning while you sleep?

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Eric Barker  -  
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Economists are fond of telling us that “people respond to incentives.” It seems that’s true even when we’re passed out on the couch:

Sleep is known to promote the consolidation of motor memories. In everyday life, typically more than 1 isolated motor skill is acquired at a time, and this possibly gives rise to interference during consolidation. Here, it is shown that reward expectancy determines the amount of sleep-dependent memory consolidation. Subjects were trained on 2 different sequences of a finger sequence motor task before 12-hr retention intervals of either nocturnal sleep or daytime wakefulness. After training was finished, reward expectancy was varied by announcing a monetary reward for performance improvement at retesting on either the first- or second-trained sequence. Before the retest, however, subjects were informed that reward would depend not on only 1 sequence but on the average performance for both sequences. Posttraining sleep enhanced overall finger sequence performance. The sleep-dependent gain in skill was significantly greater for the sequence that was associated with monetary reward after training, regardless of whether this sequence was the first or second to be trained. After wake retention intervals, no or only minor performance gains were observed. The data show that expectancy for a reward enhances offline learning of a skill during sleep.

Source: Anticipated reward enhances offline learning during sleep. from Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition –

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Here’s What The Research Says About Whether You Could Really Become Batman

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Eric Barker  -  
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Maybe, but even if you could, you wouldn’t last long.

In his book Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero, E. Paul Zehr discusses what it would take to become the caped crusader as well as the practical limitations inherent in being a superhero without superpowers.

He was interviewed about it in Scientific American:

Keeping in mind that being Batman means never losing: If you look at consecutive events where professional fighters have to defend their titles—Muhammad Ali, George Foreman, Ultimate Fighters—the longest period you’re going to find is about two to three years. That dovetails nicely with the average career for NFL running backs. It’s about three years… The point is, it’s not very long. It’s really hard to become Batman in the first place, and it’s hard to maintain it when you get there.

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