The Science of Learning with Stress and Fear


The reason why we remember specific moments or movies is because they have been stored in our memory under the influence of emotions. When we win or fail, cry or celebrate, we learn fast, deep and plenty. But when we are afraid our brain limits our ability to think, for a good reason. Fear is an emotion induced when we face a threat to our physical or psychological well being. It causes a change in brain and organ functions and ultimately in our behavior first we get stressed or aggressive, then we are left with three final ways out: freeze, fight or flight. The reason for this is evolution. Over the last million years, we learn that when we meet a dangerous animal, we better freeze, fight or run and hide. To save our life this is now programmed in our genes. But something else happens. When it gets dangerous a specific region of our brain, the Amygdala, takes over. Its job is to protect us and save our life. To act fast it refrains us from thinking and leaves us only with those three options. This makes creative and critical thought processes impossible. High pressure triggers a similar response. In one experiment, German neuroscientist Prof. Dr. Huether measured the brain function of young men playing a car racing game. The race was on and the men eager to win. When the researchers later looked at the scans of the brain they saw shockingly little activity. In fact, the young men hardly used their brains at all and they certainly didnt remembered much. Later the researchers repeated the experiment. This time they did not play the game themselves but just watched from inside the car sitting next to the driver. Instead of focusing to win, they focused on a lot of other things: driving behavior, the race track, other cars. This time the brains showed lots of activity Learning happened and memories were created. The scientists concluded that when we panic at a math exam or when a salesmen fears to miss his monthly target, it can create a tunnel vision. Then our vision field becomes smaller, our learning limited and we cannot find the road to success. Next time when you are stressed to perform or when you panic during an exam, try this quick fix. First slowly breath in through your nose. To do it slow enough, count from one to five. Then breath out through your mouth, again counting to five. Repeat that for 1-5 minutes and your body will relax your brain can switch from protection mode back to a learning mode. What is your personal experience? Do you think we should apply pressure and push for a goal in order to maximize our learning? Or do you think we should free our minds from pressure and goals? Please share your thoughts in the comments below! Thanks for watching! Even if we try to keep it short, each video is quite some work. First we research and write a script. Then we brainstorm ideas. And after that we draw the storybook. Then it’s recorded, narrated and finally edited. If you want to support us to make more videos on Learning and Education, visit Patreon.com/Sprouts

100 Comments

  1. radz yo

    January 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I get complete my work under pressure only …may be my big weakness

  2. Gajanan Nigade

    January 16, 2017 at 6:00 pm

    creationists???

  3. Fati Sorren

    January 16, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    can you do a video on how to get back up if you are knocked down??

  4. Babloo Jaiswal

    January 16, 2017 at 7:04 pm

    Your all videos is awesome! 👌👏👍👏👏👏👏👏

  5. Insaf B

    January 16, 2017 at 7:48 pm

    Amazing Job!!

  6. Kalpna Saxena

    January 16, 2017 at 8:41 pm

    Thank you team Sprouts, that I now feel drastically better about this crucial situation I have been trapped in which not thinking over and over could made possible but surprisingly this video. Not makes much sense, I know; but I'm thanking you in this vague way because I really appreciate it 🙂

  7. sicktoaster

    January 16, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    I think that goals are important to having a fulfilling life. Trying to not have goals will just drive you mad. Every little thing that happens becomes more relevant since you have nothing in particular to look forward too and you wind up highly stressed by the most trivial things. But if you have goals that you commit yourself to you don't have to feel so strongly for anything that is irrelevant to your success for your goals.

    This primitive response is only useful for short-term dangers, not long-term dangers such as failing to succeed at a goal. Remind yourself of that and learn through focusing on your breathing and posture and by practicing meditation to shut down or at least reduce the amygdala response when it isn't helpful. Think things through far in advance so that you can remind yourself that you have plenty of time and so there's no point in feeling afraid as long as you stay on task. Slow and steady wins the race. Slow yourself down so you think more and flesh out a problem for the best solution.

  8. balsoomty 97

    January 16, 2017 at 11:00 pm

    Thank you 🙂

  9. Shruthi Das

    January 17, 2017 at 2:59 am

    Free our mind 😃 instead of just giving away the information we have to focus more on inspiring and filling with curiosity 😃 that's when we become creative

  10. Namira Shabnom

    January 17, 2017 at 5:01 am

    From someone who always performs poorly under pressure, thanks sprouts.

  11. Amit Sharma

    January 17, 2017 at 3:05 pm

    people think without fear no one can rush toward the goal but u put beautifully that fear can enhance ur speed but influence your learning . I also feel the same

  12. Black Thugga

    January 17, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    Please do "how to present a thing (for example : a book) when we're too shy"

  13. beth xx

    January 18, 2017 at 12:33 pm

    these are the kind of videosni like to watch:)

  14. Paul Harrison

    January 18, 2017 at 6:23 pm

    whilst I do find that fear of failure stops me from studying effectively I have to say in those two weeks before exams I force myself to study and I learn loads. I think we Aldo need the pressure to focus our minds. flow= pressures / resistance. if resistance is our fear of failure the pressure of an exam can push down on our fears and then we can create a good flow of studying.

  15. Emine Hafsa DEMİR

    January 18, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    How it is possible, only almost 9000 users watched this video. Big lost for others.

  16. lokesh shingadi

    January 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm

    make video on stage fear

  17. Nawel MM

    January 19, 2017 at 9:34 pm

    Great video ! I subscribed !!

  18. Moon Mancer

    January 20, 2017 at 1:01 am

    I found that being to relaxed doesn't always helps, I have failed exams where I was too lazy to do it fast but I knew everything…

  19. Aulia Yusti

    January 20, 2017 at 6:24 am

    hey I was curious on how the storybook made.. btw cool videos, keep up the good work!

  20. skrozneobican

    January 20, 2017 at 10:28 am

    I work much better under the pressure, I think that all my strenght is turned on.

  21. Nasrullah Mirbahar

    January 20, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    PANIC MONSTER AS WELL AS CALM PEACE IS NECESSARY IN EQUAL LENGTH BECAUSE PANIC MONSTER WILL  HELP US TO REMMEMBER OUR GOAL AND CALM PEACE WILL SURELY HELP US IN ACOMPLISHING GOAL SMOOTHLY. THANKS AN INFORMATIVE VIDEO…{+}

  22. k nishchay

    January 21, 2017 at 9:56 am

    this is good video but

  23. Heidi Cheng

    January 21, 2017 at 1:00 pm

    like your drawing

  24. Amita Patel

    January 21, 2017 at 3:31 pm

    you guys are awesome.all your videos are very useful ,KEEP IT UP.

  25. Alexandra

    January 22, 2017 at 7:18 am

    this is so accurate..I have a huge exam tomorrow and I'm still learning/revising. I'm trying hard no to panic

  26. avelmira

    January 22, 2017 at 4:03 pm

    Although you have presented a lot of good information, I kinda have to argue with this video's false dichotomy presentation of this issue in that there are many studies that show fear to be a good teacher. We remember experiences more vividly when under pressure, that's the basic system that drives evolution – we're scared, we learn what to avoid and how to avoid it and what solution work best under fearful situations etc… This video also null and voids the quantifiable results of many students from Asian countries who study really hard in fear that they will not meet the college entrance exam. (Granted, there are a lot of negative side effects of that and I'm not here to argue those.) I have been wondering lately if their rote memorization and forced learning really help them learn and understand subject matters, then I realized that with my own life experience, more neuro-connections are formed because of stressful situations, and even if you don't have time to relax during the day, when you sleep, your brain makes all sorts of connections that help with learning. Contentment breeds complacency as well. There are many variables to consider when speaking of this issue, so I just want to put this out there to balance things out.

  27. kate ramas

    January 24, 2017 at 4:05 am

    yeah, it is good though that we free our minds and relax from everuthing to get things right. but the problem sometimes is the society or/and the parents who puts the pressure and standards..

  28. Daisy Daisy

    January 25, 2017 at 2:38 am

    you should make transcription <3 It is great video <3

  29. John Matthias

    January 25, 2017 at 2:41 am

    IMO some stress is helpful. When I exercise, I believe I benefit when I stress my body somewhat without pushing to its limit. I think mental stress works in a similar way. Some stress can be beneficial, but it can set you back if you take on too much at once. Also, as with physical conditioning, it's good to know what kind of shape you're in, what areas need work, and so on.

  30. Top 1Percent

    January 25, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Teachings from this video is applicable to every exam or competition in the world.

  31. Laxmi kc

    January 26, 2017 at 3:00 pm

    wonderful video

  32. Ryuzaki Kazuya

    January 28, 2017 at 7:35 am

    U guys are awesome! Great job 😀

  33. Utsav Chaudhary

    January 29, 2017 at 7:10 am

    wait a minute
    were there humans too with dinosaurs…..🤔

  34. Meliana Crafts

    February 5, 2017 at 3:36 pm

    Nice!

  35. Brett Lowry

    February 5, 2017 at 9:27 pm

    You should include your patreon.com/sprouts link in your expanded description section to make it easy to click.

  36. FOodie DONUT

    February 6, 2017 at 6:13 am

    I loved it

  37. Kaushik Biswas

    February 8, 2017 at 5:42 am

    How a routine of study should be??..plzz explain

  38. Vikas Mehta

    February 9, 2017 at 6:26 am

    a distributive approach and sharing both i guess would be deadly.

  39. Cindy

    February 9, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    I love this video. It is very helpful. I learned something in this video.

  40. FRONT! Studios

    February 13, 2017 at 1:55 am

    Nice video! Can you please make a video on some of the best learning strategies for school? It would be really helpful

  41. Subhadra Saha

    February 25, 2017 at 4:58 pm

    i think pressure situation are not at all creative and productive, rather we forget the learned things too. I know cause whn I'm stressed in viva table, I forget a lot of things which are usually always present in my memory when I'm at my comfortable place like with friends or family. 🙂

  42. Aaradhya Mundra

    March 3, 2017 at 12:00 pm

    it is really good. plz keep making new videos

  43. regita andieni

    March 7, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    You deserve more subscribers, thanks for the tips❤

  44. Devuni Goonewardene

    March 10, 2017 at 5:48 am

    Your videos are great

  45. Anmol Madaan

    March 21, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    These videos are of immense help, waiting for more 😉

  46. Sayanta Banerjee

    April 1, 2017 at 9:33 am

    I am sure these amusing lessons will armour ourselves with knowledge against our deep seated negative emotions. I love the way the storyboards demonstrate the manifestation of so many familiar emotions and behavioral traits. Knowledge is in era-change. Sprouts is contributing predominantly in that. Wish all the best.

  47. Sayanta Banerjee

    April 1, 2017 at 9:35 am

    I would deeply appreciate if Sprouts could suggest a few reference books or articles on the related issues

  48. Gone Under

    April 11, 2017 at 1:58 pm

    We should keep nil stress in our minds. Because that's what I have experienced. At University I'm so much stressed about future and under so much fear that my grades have plummeted.

  49. 818 Nix

    April 11, 2017 at 10:38 pm

    im in love of your work that amaizing

  50. Keerthana Sankar

    April 17, 2017 at 3:23 am

    Thank you for this video:)

  51. Festim L.

    April 17, 2017 at 10:01 am

    so you learn more watching let's plays than playing it yourself lol.

  52. Sai Moukthik Konduru

    April 19, 2017 at 3:55 pm

    guys!! u r simply superb!!
    good going, keep on doing helpful videos!!

  53. mostafa hosseini

    April 30, 2017 at 4:04 am

    depending on personality, pressure can be helpful

  54. blackpixies1

    May 7, 2017 at 12:23 am

    I completely agree with how stress can effect studying. However, for me personally, it is a lot more difficult to relax. What works for me is surrounding myself with friends or family while I am studying so if I need to, I can look away from my work for a moment and have my friends cheer me on. It's a nice feeling. Like having a cheer squad in front of you.

  55. Atkia Farzana Khan MEEM

    May 23, 2017 at 11:22 am

    my style of reading is num 1…a lot of schedule… that increase my pressure!..I have a journal book write my tast everyday…don't u think it is increasing my pressure??

  56. ahmed elbarky

    May 27, 2017 at 7:13 am

    loved how you summarized the three actions and labeled them . would love to watch more of your uploads , keep it up ^_^.

  57. Raphael Cramer

    June 6, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    Amazing !!

  58. Preethi Rani

    June 9, 2017 at 11:53 am

    My brain works better when it is under pressure or fear. Really though, I can complete 4 chapters for tomorrow's exam but not even a single chapter for the next month's exam.

  59. Infinity MFG

    June 9, 2017 at 4:33 pm

    @1:12 WTF?
    What was up with the fly swatter?

  60. Amazing Kid

    June 22, 2017 at 7:17 am

    study rest study this was the technique I followed for my last exam even when I had loads of syllabus but fortunately it worked everything stayed in my mind now I know why continuous and forced studying don't work .thanks for the video😊

  61. Lips Bermudez

    June 30, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    Hi! Very nice and informational videos. I really like the presentation. I am confronted also with these questions in mind, do I need to follow a strict plan of activities or do I need to feel lax on my schedule so that I can perform well? Based on my experience, I always have a plan of activities for the day, that is my plan and another column for the things that I have actually done. There is a huge difference mainly because I do not always stick to my plan so I tend to be unhappy sometimes. But there are times also that I put in my mind that I need to be flexible because I cannot hold or control my external environment or the circumstances why I cannot finish the tasks that I have planned. I would appreciate if you could give me insights if what I am doing is somewhat right or wrong? Thanks a lot!

  62. Sachidanand Kant

    July 13, 2017 at 1:50 am

    pressurising my mind for achieving my learning goal never helped me.. I hv done better in relax mode.

  63. Dr Syed Abdul Haseeb

    July 17, 2017 at 2:04 pm

    nice vidoes..kp going

  64. Ashok Kumar

    July 30, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Best video bro…. You r really great whoever u r… Nd ur drawing is really nice…. Appreciable

  65. Dharesha U.P.

    September 9, 2017 at 5:19 am

    Please make video on how to develop passion in studios

  66. Parviz Kazimov

    September 12, 2017 at 11:40 am

    Hello. I am an educator. Thanks for such a great video. I would be grateful if you could provide the link for the experiment with car racing game or at least spelling of name of German neuroscientist who conducted it. I would like to use it in my article. Thanks

  67. iVideoCommenter

    September 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    > Discourages learning by fear
    > uses The Shining as example of memorability

  68. iVideoCommenter

    September 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    > Discourages learning by fear
    > uses The Shining as example of memorabilityl

  69. iVideoCommenter

    September 18, 2017 at 6:55 pm

    > Discourages learning by fear
    > uses The Shining as example of memorability

  70. Bijou Smith

    October 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm

    Nice VDO, but on the bit about exam stress, I have a harsh criticism: sitting an exam is not normally a learning time, it is a remembering time, hopefully with some critical thinking necessary (if the questions are good open ended ones). The real solution is not breathing technique though, it is getting rid of exams, or at least not using exams as grade reward systems, but as zero-risk challenges for getting assessment information. Exams should never be used as final assessments or for awarding grade points, precisely for the reasons laid out in this video. If you actually WANT students to learn how to cope under stress, an exam is probably not the simulation you want, instead you should simulate the real condition you want to test, e.g., a game, or an actual simulation of real life stress, e.g., fire-fighting or police work training simulations. A mathematician or scientist working under exam style stress on the other hand is a joke, because the realistic stress of such occupations is not with exams, but with long work hours and experimental mishaps or long attempts at proofs that fail at the last steps, etc. So schools and universities should take these things to heart and rethink the purpose of exams.

  71. Cosmic Muffet

    October 17, 2017 at 3:06 am

    … Dinosaur is the dangerous animal?

  72. Chaeruman _th

    October 25, 2017 at 2:18 am

    Thank for the video. It just makes me better in studying

  73. Peter Ku

    December 12, 2017 at 11:19 am

    I think that there're lot of ways to both relax our mind not to be stressful and push for a goal to maximize learning.
    Maybe we can see how to do it soon.

  74. Ana ami

    January 2, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    free your mind

  75. Ferby Arisaka

    February 8, 2018 at 6:24 am

    Nice video, these happens when i was a teen with my parents, they never understands me, all they do its just blaming me and i always wrong..

  76. Dennis Dole

    February 23, 2018 at 2:58 am

    This is EXACTLY why teachers SHOULD NOT BE ARMED.
    Students shouldn't be fearful of those they're being tested by, and judged by.
    Students DO know that teachers are judging them, testing them, and grading them. And that's stressful enough.
    So what SANE person thinks it's good to add the knowledge that that same classroom judge and jury authority figure now ALSO has the REAL capability to ENDING YOUR LIFE?

  77. OptimisticEnigma

    May 2, 2018 at 12:09 pm

    Love your videos ….. plz keep making so much more…
    Love all the practical wisdon and techinques you give😆

  78. R I

    May 3, 2018 at 3:53 pm

    We should free our minds from pressure but not goals
    I choose 2nd option

  79. Nkele Nwachukwu

    June 29, 2018 at 7:00 pm

    Thank you so much

  80. Eddie Lira

    August 17, 2018 at 5:39 am

    How the hell do you not have millions of subs? That's what's wrong today, society's priorities are jacked up

  81. Yeshwanth Kumar

    September 28, 2018 at 4:38 pm

    Can you please create a vedio on planning a good time table for a day

  82. Yeshwanth Kumar

    September 28, 2018 at 4:40 pm

    Can you please create a vedio which summerises all of your vedios and give a certain idea about improving our mental health

  83. Yeshwanth Kumar

    September 28, 2018 at 4:44 pm

    Can you please create a vedio on selecting a particular goal in life(we may find many things interesting in life but we can't do all of them) that is the subject which we truly lov e as Steve jobs said in one of his speech

  84. Chris Llido

    October 6, 2018 at 12:54 pm

    it does work sometimes

  85. elan sings

    October 8, 2018 at 2:25 am

    Funk fear

  86. Love the Universe

    December 14, 2018 at 1:36 pm

    Under pressure tutututurururu
    Tutututurururu (tu tu)

  87. Ana Toons

    December 28, 2018 at 3:38 am

    This happens to me a lot 😅

  88. Carlos Flores

    January 3, 2019 at 8:44 pm

    I'm not tired yet about your English videos, I love british English.
    Sometime some one said me that I can't be a native speaker but that doesn't matter for me.

  89. Marcy A

    March 1, 2019 at 9:26 pm

    Makes sense why when I have fear during timed tests can either do very well or do not do well at all. I found if I focus on doing my best rather than getting a good grade I usually do well. Great video and thanks for all you do Sprouts!!!

  90. GHASIRAM B TUDU

    May 12, 2019 at 6:44 am

    I try not become overambitious

  91. Iram Khan

    May 25, 2019 at 11:23 am

    Whatever you guys doing it's tremendous . Keep up the great work ✌✌

  92. Abhinand

    June 8, 2019 at 8:10 am

    Yeterday there was a news in the local news paper about a girl who suiside becouse she coudint score much in neet exam which is an entrance exam which comes every year on the other hand i am here living disqulified in the same exam

  93. Nanjunda Swamy

    June 11, 2019 at 3:58 pm

    Please can yo prepare a perfect time table for me

  94. gayatrika agrawat

    June 16, 2019 at 9:18 am

    I want join in making video they are really nice

  95. Anindita Putri

    June 20, 2019 at 6:21 pm

    I really love your video. Thanks, this is so inspirative

  96. happyfreethinker

    August 2, 2019 at 11:08 am

    I am a student and I study best when im not under pressure.

  97. Syed Asaat

    August 17, 2019 at 6:29 am

    Setting up a goal is extremely beneficial for people who are hardworking, But for people who are very intelligent they manage situations differently.

  98. Phương Huỳnh

    September 26, 2019 at 9:42 am

    If you want learning Science effectively, let's prefer to this channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEJqfayR5vQe8OQ6Xmr710Q

  99. Jazz and other creations

    October 16, 2019 at 3:04 am

    There's a lot of abusive people who insist that learning with pain is the best way to learn. God damn.

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