Practice makes Perfect…or Not?

New_stuff You know it–it’s on the tip of your tongue.  But you can’t quite get it out of your mouth.   This experience actually has a name: the "tip-of-tongue" phenomenon.  According to a recent issue of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology there is a sometimes a glitch between retrieving the correct memory of a word (in your mind’s eye) and retrieving the sound (creating the vocalization).


According to the study cited, when error is made when trying to think of a correct word, a time delay is helpful.  In other words, taking a break after making a mistake and acknowledging the error gives your mind an opportunity to "reset".  Otherwise, if you try immediately again (after making the error) to access the word the your mind automatically charges down the most recent pathway (the mistake you made) and repeats the error.

What might this mean?  Music teachers know that the trick to learning a music piece accurately is to practice it slowly and intentionally.  If you practice fast, you’ll just practice your mistakes…making the error more concrete in your mind. 

It’s possible this phenomenon might also apply to using to FLASH cards to memorize simple math problems.  The correct answers reinforce the memory of the correct answers.  But when speeding through the Flash Cards, it is possible that the wrong answers are reinforced faster than you can flip the card. 

So SLOW Down–be intentional and methodical.  Reinforce the CORRECT answer.

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