Scientists have known for a long time that when we learn, our brains and senses react, but how to apply this knowledge to the enhancement of learning is not as clear. The 6 articles below shed light on how biology and learning are connected.
Environment and Learning
5 Ways to Optimize Your Learning Environment for Better Results by Marianne Stenger
Environmental elements impact the effectiveness of studying. Stenger reviews research and makes suggestions for learning success by controlling these factors: location, lighting, body temperature, study environment, and clutter.
Emotion and Learning
The Neuroscience Behind Stress and Learning by Judy Willis
Neuroimaging and EEG studies of the brain have shown that neural networks can actually prevent learning during times of stress. The amygdala is the part of the brain that reacts negatively to stress. Researchers found that when students are anxious, the amygdala becomes “over-activated” and “new sensory information cannot pass through it to access the memory and association circuits…”
How the Brain Learns Successfully, Even Under Stress by Carol Gregoire
If brain activity makes it more difficult to learn under stress, then what should we do? Researchers found that students can overcome stress by switching from conscious reasoning to unconscious reasoning. But the best way to overcome stress is through self-assessment, becoming aware of the stress, and employing strategies to lessen it.
Why Curiosity Enhances Learning by Marianne Stenger
Our own experience tells us that when we are curious, we are more eager to learn. It turns out, that there is scientific evidence to back this up. According to Stenger,
The researchers found that when the participants’ curiosity had been sparked, there was not only increased activity in the hippocampus, which is the region of the brain involved in the creation of memories but also in the brain circuit that is related to reward and pleasure. This circuit is the same one that lights up when we get something we really like, such as candy or money, and it relies on dopamine, a “feel-good” chemical that relays messages between neurons and gives us a sort of high.
Neural Networks and Learning
Using Fewer Brain ‘Tools’ and Learning by Julie Cohen
Cohen reviews the work of researchers who observed how different regions of the brain connect when humans are presented with learning new tasks. One of the findings was that using executive function, the part of the brain associated with organizing and other higher cognitive levels, can actually interfere with simple learning. If students “suspend” executive function when learning simple tasks, they might do better.
Neurons Reveal the Brain’s Learning Limit by Shilo Rea
Researchers found that tasks are easier to learn if learners can use neural networks already in place from previous learning. This research supports the concept that learning is “constructed” or built on earlier learning and experience. When Acrobatiq courseware breaks down learning objectives into learning skills and processes so that students can build learning connections, it makes learning more complex concepts easier.