Taking short breaks is key to helping the brain learn new skills

By Study Finds - June 9, 2021

BETHESDA, Md. — Learning a new skill is a great way to enrich your life, challenge oneself, and keep the mind sharp. Of course, perfecting a new craft is almost always easier said than done. We’ve all given up on a project or new hobby out of sheer frustration at some point. If you’ve been struggling to master a certain activity, researchers from the National Institutes of Health recommend taking some short breaks to recharge the mind.

A team from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) mapped out the flow of neural activity within the mind while someone is learning a new skill.

Along the way, they discovered that a few short breaks while practicing and learning a skill can go a long way toward retention.

Why?

While taking a break, the participants’ brains showed the exact same activity patterns as when they were learning and practicing a new code, only much faster and continuously in a rapid fashion.

The more a volunteer’s mind replayed this neural activity the better they ended up performing during later practice sessions.

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Tags: brain health