Why is repetition critical to learning? Firstly, for neurons to connect together they need to be activated together. The more often they are co-activated the more likely they are to form connections with each other. “When two neurons respond to a stimulus (such as a word), they begin to form chemical and physical pathways to each other, which are strengthened or weakened depending on how often they are co-activated. This process of “neurons that fire together, wire together” is the basis for all learning, and is reflected in the formation of gray matter (where neurons communicate with each other) and white matter (fatty tracts connecting gray matter regions)” (Hayakawa & Marian, 2019). Secondly, reconstructing a memory, strengthens the memory by helping establish connections, make them more permanent, and making them more efficient. The more we reconstruct the memory, the more importance given to that memory – the more meaningful it is deemed to be. Reconstructions are important for LTP – as the brain prioritizes what we encounter frequently. Reconstructions facilitate both LTP and myelination. Remember myelination is about automation – making the connections more efficient by insulating the brain cells so that energy is not lost when they are active. Myelination is built up over time via repetition. Repeated activation of neurons and their connections leads to myelination.


Repetition and Reviews
  • Hayakawa, S. & Marian, V., (2019 April 30). How Language Shapes the Brain. Scientific American. Retrieved from https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/observations/how-language-shapes-the-brain/
  • Stahl, S. M., Davis, R. L., Kim, D. H., Lowe, N. G., Carlson, R. E., Fountain, K., & Grady, M. M. (2010). Play it again: The master psychopharmacology program as an example of interval learning in bite-sized portions. CNS spectrums, 15(8), 491-504.


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Science of Learning Concepts for Teachers (Project Illuminated) Copyright © 2020 by Marc Beardsley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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