What is Brain Overload?
Have you ever been studying for hours and realize midway through reading a chapter that you keep losing focus and can’t remember anything you’ve read in the past hour? Do you find you keep reading the same paragraph over and over again but the content just doesn’t stick? These are all symptoms of something known as brain overload, where your brain has taken on too much information and can no longer function efficiently and effectively. Both students and adults face situations like these all too often which can be quite frustrating. So, why does this happen?
To answer this question, we need to remember that everyone has two types of memory vaults: our short-term memory and our long-term memory. When we are taking in new information, be it through reading, sitting in a lecture, or watching a documentary, it goes in our short-term memory. There is a limit to how much information that can be stored in one’s short-term memory at any given time. In one sitting, we are able to learn about 5 to 9 new concepts before we reach brain overload. So, at this point, whatever new information you try and squeeze into your brain will not stay there for a very long time. It is only through reciting, repeating, and reviewing that the new information we have learned will be stored in our long-term memory.
How Can You Avoid Brain Overload?
One of the key things to avoid in order to make sure that your brain is not overloaded is cramming. Cramming makes it impossible for your brain to store all the new information that you are learning in your long-term memory. Instead of taking in large amounts of information at one time, break things down into smaller steps. For example, instead of reading a whole chapter at once, break the chapter into small sections where there are no more than 5 concepts introduced in one section. After reading each section, start rehearing, reciting, or practising the information that you have read so far. Go back and re-read the sections you’ve already read and then do practice problems, quiz yourself, draw diagrams, talk about what you’ve learned with friends or family, or write down the key concepts on a separate piece of paper. If you are preparing for a presentation, present the material you’ve read until you feel comfortable with it. If you are preparing for a test, write a mock test. The goal here is to use and apply the information you learned.
Every individual has their own limits, so it is important to know your limits since your brain can only take so much. Learn about your own limits and follow the above tips to avoid brain overload!