Rote memorization creates weakness, UC Irvine study says

Does repetition go bad in the brain?
Does repetition go bad in the brain?
Photo by sizumaru/Yellow via Flickr Creative Commons
Does repetition go bad in the brain?
UCI neurobiologist Michael Yassa said that these findings do not discredit the practice of repetitive learning, although pure repetition alone has limitations.

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Anyone who has gone to school has done it – that repetitive style of learning known as “rote memorization."  

The theory behind memorizing by repetition is the more you go over a particular bit of information, the easier it is to recall. But neuroscientists are now finding that the recall ability you will likely gain from the technique may come at a price.

A new UC Irvine study, published in the journal “Learning & Memory” provides the first empirical evidence that rote memorization can actually harm memory for detail, leaving a void that could even pave the way for false memories, say researchers Michael Yassa and Zachariah Reagh. 

So where does repetition go bad in the brain?

Think of the game of telephone – except instead of distortion happening when a story is whispered from person-to-person, it’s the detail that gets lost or twisted around when the brain goes over it repeatedly.

The takeaway? Rote memorization isn't a bad thing, per se. But you might want to use other memory methods, like creating strong visual images — or word associations — of things you’re trying to remember.

DOCUMENT: Read the UC Irvine study