Previous: This Is Your Brain on Language | Compilation
Next: Your Brain on Retail Therapy



View count:59,561
Last sync:2023-11-21 00:15
Start learning a new language today with Babbel! Get up to 65% when you sign up here:

You’ve probably been there before, working hard on your job until your brain gets all mushy and fuzzy. But small breaks, like watching this video, can help you in multiple ways! Just, don’t fall into any cat video rabbit holes.

Hosted by: Brit Garner
Support SciShow Psych by becoming a patron on Patreon:

SciShow has a spinoff podcast! It's called SciShow Tangents. Check it out at
Become a Patron and have your name featured in the description of every SciShow Psych episode!
Looking for SciShow elsewhere on the internet?

Thanks to Babbel, a language learning  app, for sponsoring this episode.

If you’re interested in  growing your language skills,. SciShow viewers get six months free when  you sign up for six months using our link. [♪ INTRO].

You’ve probably been there  before, working hard on your job until your brain gets all mushy and fuzzy. A little break would be fantastic  to restart everything up, but squeezing a break in the schedule is hard. But research has shown that taking  breaks might be beneficial for you!

So, join me on a little break. Of course, sometimes breaks aren't possible. But often, we choose to skip breaks even  when they’re a totally viable option!

Some research from the UK  published in 2020 examined why people sometimes skip breaks. The researchers interviewed participants about their break-taking behavior  in a focus-group setting. They found there weren’t just two groups  of break-takers and break-skippers, it was way more fluid than that.

Some folks thought they could  squeeze more out of their day if they didn’t take breaks. But those same participants  did sometimes take breaks if it involved hanging with their coworkers. Others who took breaks at their desk  felt anxious about taking breaks because others might think they were slacking or  someone could assign more work to them.

So if breaks didn’t have a tangible  benefit, like an outing with coworkers, then folks didn’t seem to take one. Because even though they were entitled to a break, there was still pressure to be productive. So taking breaks might seem like a waste of time because it doesn’t lead to progress, but breaks can have a very positive  effect on your work and you!

In a study from 2017, scientists  looked at 87 university students performing a complex task: train routing. Students had four parallel  railway lines with intersections and switches to move trains between the lines. They had to route trains and prevent  them from crashing for 40 whole minutes.

A pretty stressful task if you ask me! The participants were broken into two groups: the No-Break group, where they work  on the task for 40 minutes straight, or the Break group, where they could have a few minutes break at the 20-minute mark. During the break, students in the Break  group could get slotted into a silent break, to choose how they spent  their break however they liked or to a music break where they  could watch or listen to...

Coldplay. Because who doesn’t like Coldplay, I  mean... You know that one that goes like- Youuuu areeee...multiple times.

You know what, forget it. During the study, scientists measured  participants’ subjective workload, or, how hard they felt the task was. And participants that directed  trains and prevented some crashes for the whole 40 minutes,  without a break, felt that the task was harder compared  to folks that took a break.

The students in the No Break group were  also less accurate with their train routing. If boosting your accuracy with trains while  listening to Coldplay isn’t really your thing, well maybe boosting your test scores is. One study from 2016 found that test scores varied depending on the time of day students were tested: later in the day, test scores dropped, because earlier activities were  draining their mental resources.

But scientists found that, on average, a short break of 20 to 30 minutes improved scores. So, breaks also helped with  long-term recall tasks like tests. And to study for those long tests,  you need to have a sharp memory!

Guess what - breaks can help with that too. Researchers monitored participants’  brain activity during a typing task, they were shown a series of numbers on  a screen and typed as much as they could with their left hand for 10 seconds. They then took a 10-second break.

And researchers observed patterns in  the brain’s activity indicating that most of the skill learning took  place during those 10-second breaks which involved memory consolidation processes. Because when you learn something new, your brain needs a hot minute to strengthen  the neural connections for that new skill. Generally, psychologists associate  sleeping with solidifying new skills, but it seems we can also solidify new skills  during short breaks while we’re awake.

Maybe we should change that old  saying from ‘practice makes perfect’ to ‘I’m just gonna take five’. So small breaks, like watching this video, can help you in multiple ways during  work, like focusing and memory. You’d do well to remember that  you might just get further, and feel better, by taking a few quick breaks.

Just, don’t fall down any cat video rabbit holes. But one rabbit hole you should  definitely check out while taking a break is learning a new language  and what better way than with our sponsor of today’s episode, Babbel! Babbel is the #1 language  learning app in the world and currently offers 14 different  languages and is designed to help you navigate real-life conversations  after only five hours of practice.

Their courses, designed by language  experts, incorporate vocabulary and grammar skills used in the day-to-day, like asking for a little break or  directions when you’re exploring a new city. And as a thanks to SciShow viewers, you’ll get six months free when  you sign up for six months. Click the link in the description  for this special offer.

If you want to check them out,  they also have Babbel Live, which are classes that are now available with real-life native language speaking  teachers for an additional fee. [♪ OUTRO].