Posted in Bite size learning, Decision Making, Emotional Intelligence, Problem solving, Stress management

Ask the brain a question…?


If some-one were to ask you to summarise a book from one of many on your book shelves how would you get on?  It might well be like the vast majority of us a struggle.

There are two memory processes recognition and recall.

Recognition is what happens when you see a bird and know it’s a robin. It’s what happens when someone says your name and you know they’re talking to you. It’s also what happens when you are reading.

Recall, on the other hand, is somewhat different. It’s the ability to pull up the answer to a question, without looking at it. If I ask you the capital of France, and you know the answer, Paris, it’s because you recalled it from memory.

Recall, unsurprisingly, is almost always harder than recognition. Asking you what is the capital of France, and you replying correctly, “Paris,” is much harder than me asking you “Is Paris the capital of France?” and you replying, “Yes.”  You have recognised Paris in the question so your recall becomes so much easier.

As recall is so much harder than recognition we need a technique to support it.  The brain responds to asking questions and will trigger the recall approach.  For example if you want to remember this blog you would need to write a question:-

  • What are the two memory techniques?
  • (answer:- recall and recognition)

Recall and recognition in harmony is utopia.  So whilst reviewing or summarising use recognition as well as recall.  We remember more if it relates to us on a personal level.

  • What are the two memory techniques?
  • Where were you this morning when you read this blog?

Index cards for revision have always been effective, however ensure they are labelled with key questions.  This technique does not just apply to reading thinking about summarising a meeting:-

  • What did the meeting achieve?
  • What is my role in the actions?
  • Who are the key players to move this forward?
  • Where was the meeting held?

The brain always has to answer a question and the more you ask the more lively it becomes.  Start it up this morning and this week, ask lots of questions…!!!

This blog was inspired by Scott H Young who runs learn on steroids –

Please contact Bev for 90 minute workshop on learning –



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