Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals. The more time and energy you put into the right kind of practice—the longer you stay in the Clarissa zone, firing the right signals through your circuits—the more skill you get, or, to put it a slightly different way, the more myelin you earn. All skill acquisitions, and therefore all talent hotbeds, operate on the same principles of action, no matter how different they may appear to us. As Dr. George Bartzokis, a UCLA neurologist and myelin researcher, put it, “All skills, all language,...
“One real encounter, even for a few seconds, is far more useful than several hundred observations.” Bjork cites an experiment by psychologist Henry Roediger at Washington University of St. Louis, where students were divided into two groups to study a natural history text. Group A studied the paper for four sessions. Group B studied only once but was tested three times. A week later both groups were tested, and Group B scored 50 percent higher than Group A. They'd studied one-fourth as much yet learned far more. (Catherine Fritz, one of Bjork's students, said she applied these ideas to her...