Depth of Processing
60 Minutes
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Half of the visitors participating in this activity were randomized to a group where they were asked if the word was pleasant or unpleasant. To do this task, they had to read the word, understand it and then consider what feelings they had about this word. We asked this group to process the word at a deeper level. The other half was randomized to determining if the word was UPPER or lower case. To do this task, they only had to look at the letters themselves. The brain required greater processing to determine if it was pleasant/unpleasant compared to upper/lower case. This additional effort results in more durable memory and leads to better learning.

Those having to process the words in greater depth (i.e. determining pleasant/unpleasant) remembered the words better. When people study, their memory of what they learn will last longer if they process the material they are trying to learn in deeper ways. So instead of just reading the material, if you do things like: ask questions about what you have learned, answer questions on the material, create a story or drawing, etc; you will learn better. More effort    Deeper processing    Memory lasts longer    Better learning