When people practice, they often repeat the same moves. (Think: playing scales on a piano.) But, according to recent research from Johns Hopkins University, “If you practice a slightly modified version of a task you want to master, you actually learn more and faster than if you just keep practicing the exact same thing multiple times in a row.”
Why? The most likely cause is reconsolidation, a process where existing memories are recalled and modified with new knowledge.
Here’s a simple example: Trying to get better at shooting free throws in basketball. The conditions are fixed. The rim is always 10 feet above the floor. The free-throw line is always 15 feet from the basket. In theory, shooting from the same spot over and over again will help improve muscle memory so your accuracy and consistency will improve. But a better, faster way to improve is to slightly adjust the conditions in subsequent practice sessions. Each time you practice, you make the conditions a little different. That primes the reconsolidation pump-;and helps you learn much more quickly.