May 27, 2022

The Queens County Citizen

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Willpower stimulates learning and memory

Willpower stimulates learning and memory


  • Active learning, i.e., going through voluntary action, is more effective and further mobilizes memory.
  • This active learning produces a theta phase code in the hippocampus of the brain that promotes the stabilization and retrieval of information.
  • This quest not only has educational implications, but also helps to improve lost memories or eliminate painful memories.

Participating in greater investment and greater cognitive engagement, active learning takes place through the voluntary action of the individual who wants to learn. This means that there is a modulation of attention, motivation and cognitive control, which makes the process more efficient. Therefore, active learning is more effective because of the benefit of memory. But, so far, physical processes Participates in the active learning process Not clear.

A new study, conducted by an international team of researchers, and Published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences) Illuminates for the first time on this cognitive mechanism in humans. According to its authors, the key has oscillations Theta waves generated by the hippocampus Of the human brain, it is the brain that controls the learning process.

How personal freedom promotes memory

To come to this conclusion, the researchers recruited epilepsy patients and asked them to participate in a virtual reality game. They are navigating the square track and remember the pictures of objects displayed in different places on the track. Navigation is active, meaning that participants can freely control their movements or be passive, which is another thing to plan the route and, therefore, determine the order in which the routes are exposed. Images. In this latter method, things have no control over how to remember scattered objects in a virtual environment.

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The researchers measured the electrophysiological activity of their hippocampus and tested the identification of objects at the end of the experiment. They were able to affirm the importance of active learning in each participant. In subjects with active navigation, “An increase in theta oscillations has been noted, which has made learning and subsequent memory more efficient”. They also identified two consecutive phenomena separated by milliseconds: “One of them is compatible with the encoding of information, the other is related to the recovery of previously stored information: reactivating memory”, Details Dr. Daniel Pacheco, first author of the study.

True, subjects who can navigate freely in a virtual environment adopt theta phase code, which is ideal for stabilization and retrieval of information.

Multiple practical applications are possible

For researchers, the practical applications of this discovery are multifaceted “Empirically ensures that effective learning requires motivation, cognitive control, and the ability to determine oneself.”. In addition to its application in education to promote effective learning, it can be allowed by changing the theta oscillation “Modify painful memories or improve memory lost due to memory or neurodegenerative diseases”.