Recent research shows why we need to take breaks or change the pace regularly when learning.
"In the ever-changing world of modern business, one constant is the need to learn. With the rapid pace of change and the unpredictability of technologies and markets, there is no way to teach all that is necessary prior to entering the workforce. And continued learning once on the job, is a must. Being able to facilitate rapid learning at significant scale has become a central pillar of the new workplace. In 2010, Davachi et al. outlined four principles from the neuroscience of learning about how to make ideas stick: Attention, Generation, Emotion, and Spacing, which we called the ‘AGES’ model. Since then, a large body of learning and development practitioners around the globe have learned these basic principles as a foundation for understanding, improving, and reinventing approaches to developing and delivering learning. More recent studies are suggesting new ways to hone the AGES model. We report on the ways that these lessons from neuroscience can add to our toolkits for making learning stick. We suggest that if these principles are addressed, regardless of the other factors in a learning experience, that experience can be one that leads well to lasting learning."
This new work from Josh Davis, Maite Balda, David Rock, Paul McGinniss and Lila Davachi shows up some interesting new findings, including the discovery that "The brain will lose focus unless its attention is recaptured roughly every 20 minutes or less."
Interestingly, this is why TED talks are 18 minutes long.