Willpower is the key to enhancing learning and memory: researchers uncover the mechanism

A study led by SPECS lab reveals, for the first time in humans, that the theta waves generated by the hippocampus regulate the ability of neurons to fix and retrieve information. Manipulating the oscillation of these waves could, according to experts, eliminate traumatic memories or enhance memories lost due to amnesia or neurodegenerative diseases.

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The ‘theta’ waves, which regulate the ability of neurons in the human hippocampus to fix and retrieve information, form the physiological mechanism of self-motivation to learn and make learning more efficient. This is also highly relevant in the educational field because it means the empirical confirmation that elements such as motivation, cognitive control and the ability to decide for oneself are key to effective learning.

“We have managed to get here after more than 20 years of research and the results obtained are clear. That the willpower is key to the integration of information in memory gives us arguments to say that, if we turn people into passive subjects, if they are coerced, their learning will be worse” says Paul Verschure.

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