Is learning enhanced by a multisensory approach?

A new study discusses whether cognitive learning is more effective when using all the senses as opposed to unimodal practices

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A new study led by Gabriella Eordegh assessed whether multisensory approaches enhanced associative learning, when compared to unimodal practices. 'Associative learning' is basically learning a connection exists between two events or stimuli. Traditionally, a neutral stimulus is paired with a known stimulus, until the neutral stimulus attracts a response independently. The researchers developed a multisensory version of the Rutgers Acquired Equivalence Test to investigate their hypothesis. 

151 adults participated in three separate instruction activities - auditory (sound association), visual (pairing images) and multisensory (matching an image to a sound), with similar stimuli presented in both the visual and multisensory approaches. Data from the acquisition and test phases was collected and of the total participants, only the results from 141 volunteers was analysed. 

The study concluded the multisensory approach to cognitive learning, improved recall during the test phase but showed no difference when compared to the effects of the visual or auditory methods during the learning phase. For more details about the results of the research teams study, the article Multisensory guided associative learning in healthy humans was published by the Journal PLoS ONE. 

Reference: Eördegh G, Őze A, Bodosi B, Puszta A, Pertich Á, Rosu A, et al. (2019) Multisensory guided associative learning in healthy humans. PLoS ONE 14(3): e0213094

Gabrielle Ahern

Managing Community Editor, npj Science of Learning Community

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