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Learning information the hard way may be best 'boot camp' for older brains
Date:8/23/2011

ect target information. Errorless learning (EL) is considered passive, or less taxing on the brain, because it provides the correct answer to be remembered during the learning process.

The researchers presented participants with a meaningful "cue" (e.g. type of tooth). The correct target word (e.g. molar) was shown to learners in the EL condition. In the TEL condition, the cue was presented alone, and participants made two guesses (such as canine, incisor) before the correct target "molar" was shown. After a short while, participants performed a memory test that required them to remember the context in which the words were learned (i.e. were they learned through trial-and-error or not).

In both studies, participants remembered the learning context of the target words better if they had been learned through trial-and-error, relative to the errorless condition. This was especially true for the older adults whose performance benefited approximately 2.5 times more relative to their younger peers.

The findings from the Baycrest study may have important implications for how information is taught to older adults in the classroom, and for rehabilitation procedures aimed at delaying cognitive decline procedures which rely on knowledge of how to train an aging brain, said Cyr.

The authors say future studies are needed to determine how different study materials and memory tasks impact the effect of errors on memory in aging. This will help to clarify the learning contexts in which errors should be avoided or harnessed.


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Contact: Kelly Connelly
kconnelly@baycrest.org
416-785-2432
Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care
Source:Eurekalert

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