Brilliant Brainloading™ BOOSTER: Zeigarnik Effect - Task Tension

What It Means

Based on the results of a psychology study called the Zeigarnik Effect, a Soviet psychologist and psychiatrist, Bluma Zeigarnik, discovered that interruption during a task that requires focus can in fact improve, rather than heed, a person’s ability to remember it afterwards. 

For example, a task that has already been started such as a waiter taking orders in a restaurant establishes a task-specific tension, that then improves the brain’s ability to recall the relevant content in more detail. The tension is relieved upon completion of the task, i.e., when the waiter places the order. 

Why It Works – How it Helps You Brilliantly Brainload

You can use this brain quirk to your advantage. Through purposeful tension, you can make task completion (i.e., recalling information / performing skills) more accessible to your brain so it can be more easily remembered. 

When challenged, your brain purposefully tries to remember the unfinished task so it can be finished later. The longer and more often the task (content) is kept in short term memory and actively recalled, over time intervals, under conditions of task-specific tension, the more likely it will be retained in long term memory. 

What To Do

So, set up a high focus (tension-inducing) learning situation. Start to study and recall key information or a task (steps/actions) then purposefully take a break and/or do something else (i.e., study other content or another task). Then go back to what you were trying to learn. 

Now take time to recall the key information or task that’s been partially pre-loaded in your brain (but not yet fully recalled) for an extra brainloading boost. This brainloading booster works particularly well if you are the type of person who is more detail oriented and likes closure.

Learn More About Brilliant Brainloading

Go to to learn more about how to increase your brainloading capacity and capability!

About the Author

Valerie Dixon, M.Ed., CTDP, President and Chief Learnware Architect of Learnware Design Inc., ( is a leading expert in the field of Talent Development. Valerie has over 40 years of experience in all aspects of performance needs analysis, learning strategy development and learning design and development for all types of media. She is a recognized thought leader for how to create and implement training programs that accelerate time to competence.

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