by Isabel Pascual

When was the last time...that you did something for the first time?

Learning, and applying the learned skills, are something that we - like all type of animals - do everyday, even without thinking or realizing it.  But those 'automated' learnings - through experience- usually are only for very basic 'reptilian' tasks (i.e. those that aim to trigger or modulate instinct- related responses.  Yet, most of the tasks that we perform daily are consciously acquired- and the older we get, the more difficult seem to first, learn, and then, retain a particular set of skills, process or knowledge.  Why?

Well, there are multitude of factors that, beyond the biological ones (i.e. oxidative stress, or aging) impact our capacity to learn and retain -- and most of them relate to interest, attention span and utility - beyond, obviously, the personal affinity for the subject under study.  Although, the most important factor is one that might not be so evident:  Believability.  If the source of information, data or knowledge is not believable by the learner, the brain automatically goes on an "off" mode -- or, if the learning process is forced (by a final exam), only the short-term memory will get activated.  

So make sure that your sources of knowledge - books, trainers, online programs... are considered by you - or your people-  as authorities on the matter, or respected by their know-how.  Once that hurdle is 'ticked off',  the learning process will kick in much more naturally....