Memory Neuroscience Quick Tip

Memories and Stories

Over the course of the holiday season, many people gather with family and friends to celebrate, share meals, and exchange stories. Did you know that sharing any kind of information through a story has positive effects on a person’s ability to remember and recall that information?


It turns out that there is neuroscience research to back up the power of narratives on memory(link opens in new tab/window). It’s no wonder even young children are so drawn to bedtime stories and hearing books read aloud. Our brains are wired to identify patterns and structure in the information we receive. It also helps that listening to stories is a pleasant and positive experience that the brain seeks to return to time and time again.

Impact on Students

Narratives also have the power to shape students’ neural networks. Researchers and educators are investigating how patterns of thinking and feeling can influence the growth of students’ brain networks (link opens in new tab/window). Analyzing students’ narratives reveals their dispositions of mind and how they make meaning of the world around them.

To learn more about memory strategies, check out SMARTS Unit 6: Accessing Working Memory. For ways to implement this across various subjects, explore this Edutopia article on the topic(link opens in new tab/window).

Here and Now

This holiday season, enjoy exchanging stories knowing they are a powerful tool for making connections and remembering.

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

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Goal Setting Neuroscience Self Advocacy

Goal Setting with Mindfulness and Self-Compassion

Goal setting and reflection—two popular topics on the SMARTS blog—often come up around the New Year. How can you incorporate mindfulness practices when reflecting on the past year and setting goals for 2022?

Mindfulness and Goal Setting

When setting goals, it can help to define the what, why, and how of the goal to ensure that you know how to get started. There are a number of frameworks for goal setting (including CANDO goals in SMARTS, Unit 2) that help students set realistic goals that have built-in plans for reaching success.

We often fall short of the high expectations we set for our goals. Taking a mindful approach to goal setting can help us remain calm and not judge ourselves if we don’t reach our goals or if the process takes longer than expected. 

Self-Compassion and Fresh Starts

Self-compassion is another key component of successful goal setting. It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that we must be perfect when we start fresh and that our progress is ruined if we fall back into old habits. Self-compassion means adopting a compassionate view towards oneself in difficult times through self-kindness and mindfulness.

Evidence indicates that the effects of mindfulness and self-compassion positively impact adolescents’ cognitive and affective outcomes. Results from this study support the use of contemplative practices (e.g., yoga and mindfulness) as a strategy to boost adolescents’ emotional regulation processes. Reminding ourselves that mistakes or failures don’t ruin our goals is an important aspect of self-compassion. Students and teachers can use this self-compassion strategy to remind themselves that it is okay to start again anytime.

Make Room for Mindfulness in 2022

The challenges of 2021 have left no one in our global community untouched. How can you enter the New Year in a more mindful and self-compassionate way?

  • Caitlin Vanderberg, M.Ed., SMARTS Associate

Build Your Executive Function Toolkit in 2022

Are you interested in building your Executive Function Toolkit? Join us in February and March to hear from EF experts on topics such as metacognition and motivation, strategies to support students with long-term projects and project-based learning, embedding EF in the general education curriculum, and the intersection of EF and social-emotional learning. Learn more and register today

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