Being wrong 15 per cent of the time is the secret to learning new things, scientists have found.
Although nobody likes to fail, academics have long suspected that people learn better when they are challenged to grasp something just outside of their existing knowledge.
Make a task too hard and participants will give up without acquiring any new skills, but if it is too easy and they will also not pick up anything useful.
But that ‘sweet spot’ has always been unknown.
To find out where it lies researchers at the University of Arizona conduced a series of machine-learning experiments in which they taught computers simple tasks, such as picking whether a number was odd or even.
They found the…
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