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How does the brain learn efficiently?

Gary Wenk
Psychology

The does learn new information quite efficiently.  The process of learning is called encoding and is thought to depend upon a region of the brain called the hippocampus.  Studies have shown that when you learn something new you utilize only about two percent of all of the cells in the hippocampus (published by my laboratory in The Journal of Neuroscience). This process is called "sparse encoding" because so few cells are involved.  Thus the brain learns efficiently by only using just the right number of cells, not too many and not too few, to consolidate a memory.  Anything that interferes with this sparse encoding will interfere with the making of a new memory.   

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
The brain can't afford to waste energy on learning everything there is to learn. To work efficiently, it needs to be able to adapt -- to learn new things, to forget old things. Fortunately, the brain can be molded and shaped. Because of this plasticity, the brain can adapt to its environment, learning things it needs to and not spending resources learning things that are irrelevant.
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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.