I recently saw a really great article in More magazine. Judy Jones interviewed John Medina, PhD, director of the Brain Center for Applied Learning at Seattle Pacific University.
To me, the most interesting part of the article was the description of the four-step learning process:
- Encoding, where information enters the brain through the senses
- Storage, what we do with the encoded information
- Retrieval, being able to get information “out” when it’s needed
- Forgetting, which is often overlooked, he says, but critical to learning:
“Human learning is primarily subtractive. It’s controlled forgetting, learning how to forget in a smart enough way so that you can focus on what’s left in your cognitive landscape…[The brain has to figure] out what’s relevant and irrelevant, and then subtract the irrelevant…[this is] some of the most important work the human brain can do at any age.”
Medina goes on to say that as we get older, what we actually lose is our “filtering ability.” What’s happening is that so much information is going into the brain and we can’t “turn down the noise” – so we forget why we went into a room or where we left the keys, for example. We can retrieve information, but filtering is harder.
The findings suggest that, in our personal lives, exercise is most helpful in keeping our “filter” intact. (Just one more reason to get that 30 minutes in three times a week!)
From a marketing perspective, I wonder how we can use this information to break-through the competitive clutter. This is particularly critical in communication strategy, where the use of verbal and non-verbal cues, coupled with relevant associations, might create a more impactful execution.
What do you think? If your target audience is older, how can you envision using this new finding?