How we change what others think, feel, believe and do
The ChangingMinds Blog!
Actors use a process called 'active experiencing' to learn their lines quickly by putting themselves into the role of the person involved. This can also be used in more general learning.
To get into character, the actor will break down the script into a series of logically connected 'beats' or intentions. When performing (rehearsing too), rather than thinking about the lines, they feel for the character's intention and through this let the lines come through spontaneously and naturally. Almost like a spiritual medium, the actor is like vessel and channel for the character and their expression. Michael Caine said of this: 'You must be able to stand there not thinking of that line. You take it off the other actor's face.'
Noice et al. did a study where, participants (ages 65 to 82) spent a four week period learning professional acting techniques, followed by rehearsal and performance. Although the training was not specifically targeted at memory, the participants were found to have significantly higher recall and recognition after the experiment.
It thus seems that memory can be improved just by learning to act. There are several keys to acting-as-learning:
Noice, T. & Noice, H. (1997b). Effort and active experiencing as factors in verbatim recall. Discourse Processes, 23, 51-69
Noice, H., Noice, T., Pasqualina, P., Perrig, W. (1999). Improving memory in older adults by instructing them in professional actors' learning strategies. Applied Cognitive Psychology, 13, 4 , pp.315 - 328