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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

Feb 4, 2022


Our brain has an amazing ability to learn at double speed. Maybe we should use it more.



Hello and welcome to episode 123 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we’re looking at our brain’s amazing ability to learn at double speed.

No doubt you’ve listened to a podcast or audio book at double speed. Maybe you’re even doing it now! Our ability to still absorb information when it is coming at us twice as fast is quite amazing. But surely there’s a drop off in how much we’re actually taking in. Well, according to a recent study published in Applied Cognitive Psychology, apparently not.

The researchers split participants into different groups to watch videos at normal speed, 1.5 times, 2 times and 2.5 times. Participants were then tested on their knowledge immediately following the videos and one week later. Surprisingly, the 1.5 times and 2 times groups performed just as well as those participants that watched the video at normal speed. Only the 2.5 times group showed a drop in performance.

The researchers then examined what happened if you watched the same video at 2 times speed twice. I’ve run the maths here, and that’s the same overall commitment of time as watching the video once at normal speed. When participants viewed the video twice at double speed, their performance on a comprehension test increased, particularly when the second viewing was immediately before the test. Their performance was about the same as participants who watched the video at normal speed first then double speed the second time. Even though participants believed watching the video at normal speed first would be better, it made no difference to watching it double speed.

Perhaps you’re like these participants and think “surely I can’t take information in that quickly”. Why not experiment with it this week. You might start by listening or watching the same content at double speed twice.

Give it a try and let me know how it works out.