The science of sustained learning

By William Seidman All learning is the wiring or rewiring of neurons in the brain. Behaviors and attitudes are formed by frequent, consistent and conscious practice over time. Eventually, the new neural connections and patterns overtake and displace the old ones and the learner thinks and behaves in new ways. Neuroscience has shown that frequent repetition of a key concept, attitude or behavior causes neurons to fire together which wires them together. This consistent firing of new neurons and their wiring together in the brain provides the basis for long-term storage of new ideas. Researchers call the brain’s ability to wire and rewire “neuroplasticity.” Other neural factors also affect our ability to learn. Positive images cause the release of dopamine that generates a sense of well-being and an openness to learning. Negative images stimulate the release of cortisol and the “fear” portions of the brain that cause resistance to learning. People also resist learning when they’re given too much information too fast or too little too slowly. This is because short-term memory and the pre-frontal cortex have limited information processing ability. Trying to learn too much information too fast overloads processing. Too little information presented too slowly is boring. In addition, research has shown that an individual participating in a group learning process learns differently and in some ways more efficiently than he does in isolation. In a group setting, there is a release of neural transmitters that doesn’t happen in isolation. When positive images are created and things are practiced consciously in a group setting, with full awareness of the barriers to learning, learning becomes much more effective and efficient.  ]]>

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