The Offical Weblog of Russell Jennings

The Importance of Rest and Reflection in Memory Formation

The next results were even more impressive. The participants were asked to listen to some stories and answer questions an hour later. Without the chance to rest, they could recall just 7% of the facts in the story; with the rest, this jumped to 79% – an astronomical 11-fold increase in the information they retained. The researchers also found a similar, though less pronounced, benefit for healthy participants in each case, boosting recall between 10 and 30%.

Fascinating read. Introducing quiet time after learning dramatically improves retention. But while a simple thing to do, it’s potentially difficult for people to do nothing for minutes on end. The article recommends 10-15 minutes, but i suspect shorter intervals would be effective as well, in the 3-7 minute range. If you’re trying to digest a lot of new information, doing more frequent and shorter rests may be more realistic. As what works best is bound to vary from person to person, it’s best to experiment with a stopwatch and see how long you really need.