Brief memory reactivations induce learning in the numeric domain

Gilad Schrift, Dror Dotan, Nitzan Censor*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Learning of arithmetic facts such as the multiplication table requires time-consuming, repeated practice. In light of evidence indicating that reactivation of encoded memories can modulate learning and memory processes at the synaptic, system and behavioral levels, we asked whether brief memory reactivations can induce human learning in the numeric domain. Adult participants performed a number-fact retrieval task in which they learned arbitrary numeric facts. Following encoding and a baseline test, 3 passive, brief reactivation sessions of only 40 s each were conducted on separate days. Learning was evaluated in a retest session. Results showed reactivations induced learning, with improved performance at retest relative to baseline test. Furthermore, performance was superior compared to a control group performing test-retest sessions without reactivations, who showed significant memory deterioration. A standard practice group completed active-retrieval sessions on 3 separate days, and showed significant learning gains. Interestingly, while these gains were higher than those of the reactivations group, subjects showing reactivation-induced learning were characterized by superior efficiency relative to standard practice subjects, with higher rate of improvement per practice time. A follow-up long-term retention experiment showed that 30 days following initial practice, weekly brief reactivations reduced forgetting, with participants performing superior to controls undergoing the same initial practice without reactivations. Overall, the results demonstrate that brief passive reactivations induce efficient learning and reduce forgetting within a numerical context. Time-efficient practice in the numeric domain carries implications for enhancement of learning strategies in daily-life settings.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18
Journalnpj Science of Learning
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Brief memory reactivations induce learning in the numeric domain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this