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This is the secret to learning a new skill twice as quickly

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David Cornish
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Yes, practice does make perfect. But it's how you practice that makes all the difference.

Researchers at John Hopkins University carried out a study to investigate the theory of reconsolidation; a method of learning that recalls existing memories and modifies them with new knowledge.

A sample of 86 participants were asked to learn a computer-based motor skill, pinching a device to move a cursor across a computer screen. Participants were split into three groups: one repeating an identical training schedule six hours after first completing it, then again a day later. A second group performed a tweaked version of a practice session six hours after first completing it, before also repeating a day later. A third group just got to do the same test twice with a day's break between.

Study author Pablo A Celnik said that the second group who performed modified versions of the repeated task consistently performed better in subsequent tests, with participants' reaction speed and accuracy almost doubling.

However, you don't want to make the variation too different, or it'll just mess your progress up. 

"If you make the altered task too different, people do not get the gain we observed during reconsolidation," said Celnik. "The modification between sessions needs to be subtle."

So, if you're learning musical scales or a piece of music, try playing it in a different key. For sports, try changing the weight or size of a the football/tennis ball - something that will alter your timing but keep your movements the same. 

But don't complain to us if you're not of a professional standard by the end of the month, okay? 

[Via: FastCo]

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David Cornish

Shortlist.com’s esteemed Tech Editor. David has a keen interest in video games, Star Wars and stuff that runs on batteries.

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