Cramming won’t save you: How the brain downloads info


A success seminar on concentration and memo­ry techniques Sept. 25, at the UCC with Donjanea Williams, the Assistant Director of Outreach, as the guest speaker.

The seminar was host­ed to help students learn a better and more effi­cient way of studying and comprehending informa­tion.

The easiest way for the brain to learn to quickly comprehend something is through association, Williams said. Different associations help take information from short-term memory to long-term memory.

There are seven differ­ent steps in which infor­mation travels through the brain. When sitting through class, for exam­ple, the brain is gather­ing information. This basic knowledge starts with the textbook, read­ing, notes, background knowledge, and outside reading.

Once the brain hears this information it then travels to short-term memory. The informa­tion then goes through a feedback loop and then into long-term memory. Long-term memory then retrieves the information and applies it on your test.

When a student study crams for a test or a lot of information in a short sitting, the brain does not process the information as long-term information, it just stores the infor­mation as short-term.

In order to be ef­ficient, students must work to get information into your long-term memory.

“You must be able to focus, that is why concentration is so im­portant,” said Williams. “Information stays in your short-term mem­ory for only a short pe­riod of time before it is either lost or forgotten, or transferred into your long-term memory. You must have a strategy and connection to get your information into your long-term mem­ory.”

Williams provided tips for studying which included: reading in a quiet and well lit envi­ronment, reading on a regular schedule, take breaks when needed, and be creative and thoughtful. Along with the do’s of studying she also provided a list of don’ts for studying which included: read­ing/studying in bed, reading for hours at a time, and listening to music and watching TV while attempting to read and study.

“Research says organizing information in storage enhances chances of successful retrieval, “ said Wil­liams. “Organization allows us to process information in chunks, preventing overflow.”

You do not want your short-term memo­ry overflowing, prevent­ing further information to be allowed in, she said.

Imagination is every­thing, she said, making visualizations helpful once an association was made. Visualiza­tion helps create a vivid imagery picture that is imbedded into the brain helping it remember. Concentra­tion is enhanced by visualization by creat­ing focus on one thing only.

There should be different study meth­ods for different tests. Integrating notes is a strong study strategy for any subject. There are six steps to actively reading which include: preview, question, read, reflect, recite and review. This hierar­chal system helps the retrieving of long-term memory easier, which is a search process.

“Association is the key to retrieving in­formation from short-term to long-term, but it is your frontal lobe that allows you to concentrate, learn, and focus,” said Williams.

Williams also em­phasizes the impor­tance of being aware of ADHD. Anyone who has questions about ADHD is encouraged to visit the Counseling and Career Develop­ment Center.



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