11 Scientific Tips That Can Help You Learn Anything Faster

William Wei/Business Insider

Being optimistic helps you succeed.

Stressing kids out with negative reinforcement can get them stuck in a mental rut, filling them with self-doubt and anxiety, both of which are toxic for learning.

"Anxiety precludes you from exploring real solutions and real thought patterns that will come up with solutions," says Harvard Business School professor Alison Wood Brooks.

Decades of positive psychology research suggest that we will become more successful in just about anything we try to do if we approach it with an open mind and see tangible room for improvement.

Parents should teach kids to see learning as exploration. It will help give them a sense of determination, which they can manufacture into grit when the going gets tough.

Exciting topics are "stickier" than boring ones.

Kids naturally drift toward the weird and wacky, but once the experience of rote education gets them thinking in cold hard facts, that sense of fun can die off.

Parents: don't let that happen.

As early as possible, kids should gain an appreciation for why they remember Grandma's weird-smelling house and those highlighter-yellow shorts Dad wears on nighttime runs. It's because they're unique.

Author and former US memory champion Joshua Foer memorized a full deck of playing cards in under two minutes by tying each card to a weird image. Kids can do the same for their times tables and presidents.


Speed reading can condense learning times.

The premise is simple: If you can read faster, you can learn faster.

Though you might think speed reading takes a lot of effort, programs like Spreeder pick up the pace gradually to make it feel manageable.

By training your brain to process words more quickly, you get accustomed to reading entire strings of words, rather than imagining each one individually, which slows you down.

Practice, practice, practice.

A strong work ethic makes a real impact on the brain.

In 2004, a study published in "Nature" found the act of juggling produced more gray matter. When people stopped juggling, the gray matter disappeared.

There wasn't anything special in the juggling itself, just the repetition.

Neuroscientists call this process "pruning." It refers to the new pathways that are carved by doing an act over and over again, to the point where it sticks around for good.

In other words, skills follow the use-it-or-lose-it principle.

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