In this article, you will learn how it is possible that our brain connects emotions with memory and why positive emotions work better for us. I will also show you a way to positive learning :)
Cooperation between emotions and memory
How is it that the brain remembers emotional information better? In Manfred Spitzer's book "Learning: The Human Brain and the School of Life", the author described an interesting experiment. During the study, the researchers divided the participants into two groups. The following story was read to the first group:
"A boy is going to town with his mother to visit his father who works in the hospital. There, the boy is observing various medical procedures. "
While the second group listened to this story:
"A boy is going to town with his mother and is seriously injured in a car accident. The boy is immediately transported to the hospital to be treated with various medical procedures. "
The stories were about the same length, they started and ended with the same words - the difference was only in the emotional context. After they read the stories, each of them was given a list of various medical procedures applied in clinics. They were sent home, and a week later they were asked which of the procedures from the list they remembered. It turned out that the second group, who heard the emotional story, remembered far more procedures than the group that heard the unemotional story.
And that’s because the amygdala in the brain, the center responsible for emotions, is strongly connected with the hippocampus that is responsible for memory. When both of these centers work properly, we are able to learn new things efficiently and effectively. So, when we feel emotions, the amygdala is stimulated. Stimulating this area of the brain causes a stronger activation of the hippocampus. That's why, the brain can memorize far more when, apart from the very facts, there are also emotions involved.
Does fear also support learning?
It is a fact that negative emotions also improve memory. When you ask someone if they remember what they were doing on September 11, 2001, they will probably be able to tell you all about it in great detail. I remember very well where I was on that day and what I was doing. However, better memorization comes together only with particular negative emotions, i.e. fear and stress, whereas sadness and disappointment don’t bring such effect.
Despite that, Manfred Spitzer proves that "although great anxiety does enable us to learn fast, it generally does not favor cognitive processes. Moreover, it precludes what is to be achieved through learning: not remembering single facts, but combining new content with what we already know and applying what we have learned in many situations and on many examples. "
So, stress and fear - in the short term - actually do allow us to memorize new content better, but in the long run these emotions impede absorbing larger volume of information and its synthesis later on, which is an absolute necessity in effective learning.
Moreover, negative emotions that stay longer than just for a moment block the glucose flow to the brain and deprive the body of energy, which negatively affects the learning process. Spitzer conducted another experiment, in which he told the research participants, put in different emotional context, to memorize specific words. It turned out that people who felt positive emotions memorized better than those who felt negative emotions.
A jolly brain boosts your memory
So, it seems that it is no use involving negative emotions in your learning. You learn much better when it is accompanied by laughter and general well-being. Studying should always be based on positive emotions. There are many reasons for that, such as:
- Positive emotions will allow your muscles to relax, therefore you will feel relaxed. Relaxation is very conducive to effective learning.
- Your well-being will make you much more motivated to learn. And motivation is the key to learning.
- When feeling good, it will be easier for you to come up with funny, or even absurd, images and associations, which you will remember for a very long time.
- The stronger are your emotions, the better is your memory. A stronger stimulation of the amygdala activates your hippocampus even more.
Ways of positive learning
Knowing the mechanisms taking place in your brain, remember that sometimes it is not worth studying when you are not feeling well. First, take care of yourself and your mood, and only then get down to work - you will save yourself a lot of time this way.
You can learn with positive emotions in two ways. The first way is to put yourself in a good mood before you start studying. I have written about it on many occasions, so here I’ll just give you some links to articles on how to feel better. So, if you are not in the mood, what you can do first is to bust negative thoughts using NLP techniques. Next, you can try more traditional methods to improve your mood, trigger the production of endorphins simply by smiling. What can also put you in a great mood is gratitude.
Another way of positive learning is to create positive emotions while you are studying by playing with the material you need to remember. Whenever any new information appears, make some ridiculous and absurd associations. Let your imagination go wild. Create funny mental images. Make interesting notes and amusing drawings that will make you laugh. You can also study together with your friends. Having company will make it easier to combine laughter with learning.
Remember that learning even the most difficult material can be good fun. It’s only up to you how good. Be creative and turn even boring facts into funny stories. The effectiveness of your learning will reach a completely different level - you will not only feel great while studying, but also memorize faster and easier.
Do you know any other ways to have fun while studying? Share your tips in the comments :)