Going Downstairs to Remember why you Came Upstairs (Ten Ways to use Brain Based Research in Training #10)

We’ve all done it; had to go back downstairs to remember why you came upstairs in the first place. Is it the physical activity that stimulates the brain with a better flow of oxyge? Or, more likely, it’s recreating the physical environment that reminds you of what you were about to do.

This is true of most learning and is called context dependant learning. The classic experiment for this was when Godden and Baddeley studied the effect in 1975 with divers who were asked to remember 36 unrelated, two-and-three syllable words. When tested later their recall was better on land if they’d learned on land and better underwater if they learned underwater.

The effect also seems to extend to our mental states, our mood and even our level of intoxication. Whilst alcohol is usually considered to make learning worse students who learned something whilst ‘under the influence’ were able to recall it better when ‘drunk’ than ‘sober’. http://www.sciencemag.org/content/163/3873/1358 So you only need to have a drink to find your keys, if you were drunk when you put them down.

What does this mean for training? Would we be better running training courses at work rather than in hotels or special training rooms?

Quite possibly – wherever you can try recreating similar conditions for learning as will exist at work when the person will recall what they learned and apply it.

Whilst you might not have access to flight simulators or virtual reality you can perhaps use actors/ colleagues to recreate realistic situations and use real case studies from your business.

Take a leaf out of sports trainer’s books and ask people to visualise taking their new learning into the workplace – visualisation seems to have an effect on the brain that is not dissimilar to actual performance.

Rather than teaching abstract, theoretical constructs make discussions, conversations and exercises concrete and relate to the real world that people experience at work.

If you’ve just missed out on attending our 3 day Train the Trainer workshop then keep an eye on www.howtobeabrainfriendlytrainer.com for new dates.