Review of the book “How We Learn” by Benedict Kerry

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The book has over 170 reviews on the Amazon website (rating – 4.3), as well as over 600 positive reviews on the GoodReads book portal. The author of the book – Benedict Kerry – is a science journalist for the popular publication The New York Times, has received many prestigious awards, and has written about health and science for over 25 years. In his book, he talks about our brain: how it forms memories, how the process of learning and reproducing the information received occurs. The book is literally packed with useful facts and recommendations that allow you to bring the processes of mastering and training skills to a qualitatively new level.

Idea 1. Where our memory is stored

Our memories of various events are stored in special neurons. Most of these neurons are in the hippocampus and neocortex. The hippocampus stores new lucid memory, and the neocortex stores old memories. The process of memorization is influenced by many factors: the complexity of the information you need to remember, the place you are in, tastes, smells, sounds. The more surrounding factors, the better the information is assimilated. it does not fall into one area of ​​the brain, but all at once.

Idea 2. The influence of sleep on the processes of assimilation of information

Many people, especially those who are addicted to increasing productivity, very often sacrifice their sleep to get as many tasks as possible. It is scientifically proven that sleep plays a key role in the processing and memorization of information received during the day. Accordingly, the less we sleep, the worse our memory works. In the book, the author shares several observations in which he writes that different stages and timing of sleep can play an important role in the implementation of priority tasks. For example, the first hours of sleep are very important for keeping facts. If you are studying foreign languages ​​and want to memorize as many words as possible, then it is better to go to bed early. It’s best for creative people to work at night or in the early hours. But, no matter what time of day you work, you should calculate your sleep so that it takes at least 7-8 hours.

Idea 3. Harm of “cramming” and methods of long-term memorization

Probably, no one has any doubts that “cramming”, i.e. constant and not thoughtful repetition of the same information in a short period of time (for example, the day before an exam and an important report) does not help in long-term memorization of information. Instead of this method, the author recommends using several useful memorization methods. The first one is called “interval”. It consists in the fact that it is necessary to divide the study of information into time periods and periodically repeat the already acquired knowledge at certain intervals. “Ask yourself questions” is the second method, the essence of which is that after reading any material, you should ask yourself control questions and try to answer them. “Explain to a Friend” is one of the most effective methods for developing long-term memory. It lies in the fact that you should try to tell the already studied material in simple language to your friends. So you will not only be able to remember information for a long time, but also learn to explain complex things in simple words. “Testing” is also an effective method to memorize new material. Moreover, the author recommends using alternative tests, i.e. those in which information on the studied material will be presented in an unusual way and not in strict accordance with the material that you have just studied.

Idea 4. Benefits of breaks

Scientists have found that we are best at remembering information that has not yet been fully studied. Conversely, if a project or task was completely finished, then we very quickly forget about them. If you are constantly working with a large amount of information and performing complex projects, try not to complete them to the end in a short period of time (if possible). Instead, take a break and come back to the project after a while. This will enable the brain to assimilate a large layer of information and, perhaps, during a break, a brilliant idea or a non-standard method for solving your problem will come to your mind.

Idea 5. The power of diversity

Numerous studies have shown that adding variety to learning, instead of constantly repeating the same material, better prepares us for unexpected situations and promotes the development of creative thinking.

Idea 6. Sensory perception

Imagine a cockpit. A huge number of sensors and buttons that are there immediately come to mind. How can a person understand all this? It’s all about sensory perception. Experienced pilots react automatically and intuitively to sensor readings and are able to act in a variety of situations instantly and coolly. The thing is that they visually perceive only important signals, and ignore minor ones. This is a kind of filter that helps pay attention only to the information you need. Filters of this kind can be available to every person and they appear if we practice any activity for a very long time.


Our brains are still largely unexplored. Most people have very little understanding of how memory works and what methods can be used to memorize effectively. The book by Benedict Kerry opens our eyes to many questions regarding the work of our brain and the processes of assimilating information. But this is not just naked theory and a set of scientific facts. The book contains a lot of practical advice, as well as life hacks that will help to improve memory several times, without making titanic efforts. All according to science and through very simple techniques.

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