THE BRAIN AND LEARNING
OBJECTIVES
With support of notes, participants will be able
to:
describe how learning is related to brain structure
and functions
offer hypotheses about effective teaching practices
based on information about the brain
identify misconceptions she/he held and/or the
beginnings of new information/knowledge
KEY QUESTIONS
What is learning?
How does the brain “learn”?
How might teachers use information
about the brain to support learning for
themselves, for children, and for youth?
HOW DOES THE BRAIN
“LEARN”?
Brain Components
Hemispheres & Lobes
Interior of brain
Cortex
Relationship to
learning
Cells
Types of cells
Structure of Neurons
Learning and neurons
EXPLORING BRAIN COMPONENTS,
TEACHING, AND LEARNING
Metaphors old and new
BRAIN AS A RAINFOREST
BRAIN AS A NEIGHBORHOOD
HEMISPHERES
Two cerebral hemispheres - left and right
Connected by corpus callosum
Left hemisphere generally processes information
more in parts and sequentially; recognizes positive
emotions faster than right hemisphere
Right hemisphere controls gross motor functions but
not fine motor functions for right-handers; recognizes
negative emotions faster than left hemisphere
Music and arts as right-brain activities OUTDATED!
LOBES
FUNCTIONS OF THE LOBES
Occipital: middle back. Primarily responsible for vision.
Temporal: above and around ears.Primarily responsible for
hearing, memory, meaning, and language.
FUNCTIONS OF THE LOBES
Frontal: area around forehead. Purposeful acts like
judgment, creativity, problem-solving, planning.
Parietal: top back. Processes sensory and language
functions.
INSIDE THE BRAIN
INTERIOR STRUCTURES AND
THEIR FUNCTIONS
Thalamus: key sensory relay station; part of body’s
reward system
Hypothalamus: Like a thermostat - regulates and
influences appetite, hormone secretion, digestion,
sexuality, circulation, emotions, sleep
INTERIOR STRUCTURES AND
THEIR FUNCTIONS
Hippocampus: In temporal lobe, strongly involved in
learning and memory formation
Amygdala: Critical processor for senses. Plays a role in
emotionally laden memories. Contains huge number of opiate
receptor sites implicated in rage, fear, and sexual feelings
TYPES OF CELLS
GLIAL CELLS
Greek for “glue”
Most numerous of brain’s
cells - 90%
1,000 billion; no cell body
Role - formation of bloodbrain barrier, transport
of nutrients, regulation
of immune system,
remove dead cells,
structural support
NEURONS
Adults - 100 billion, half of a two
year old
Areas of brain grow new
neurons
Healthy neurons continuously
firing
Neurons can move
Role - Responsible for
information processing
and converting chemical
and electrical signals back
and forth
STRUCTURE OF NEURONS
Cell body,axon,
dendrites
Myelin sheath,
neurotransmitters
Number of
combinations est. as a
1 followed by 6.5 million
MILES of 0’s
Earth to Moon and back
more than 13 times
LEARNING AND NEURONS
LEARNING AND NEURONS
ANIMATIONS OF NEURONS
FIRING
http://www.animate4.com/meditation/brain/neuro/min
d/iq/dreams/memory/hypnosis/cerebellum/meditationhypnosis-iq-brain.mpg
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=713468412
1021483823
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=2349016133121331921&q=Neurons+firing&total=38
&start=0&num=10&so=0&type=search&plindex=3
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysDGX6bOgAw
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=snO68aJTOpM
KEY FUNCTIONS OF THE
CORTEX
Sense
Integrate
Act
THE CORTEX
MEANING MAKING AND THE
LOBES
STRUCTURE AND LEARNING
IMPLICATIONS OF BRAIN STRUCTURE/FUNCTIONS FOR
LEARNING PROCESS
TRANSFORMATION AND JUSTICE
Information/experience
understanding
Past
future
Outside
inside
Power of other
Power of learner
PURPOSE OF THE BRAIN
The purpose of the brain is to
ensure survival
Survival is ensured through learning
Learning occurs through the
electrical and chemical processing
of new, coherent experiences, not
through repeating old experiences
That is, people get “smarter,” or
“learn,” by growing more synaptic
connections and increasing dendritic
branching - INCREMENTAL NOT
FIXED!
Dendritic connections, not brain
size, allow us to solve problems
Learning DOES NOT
NECESSARILY mean a change in
behavior
Genetic inheritance, damage to the
brain, and adverse experiences can
interfere with the neurological
process of learning
Teaching, learning, and parenting
choices can improve learning and
capacity
ONE MORE TIME :)
learning changes the brain
learning occurs through trying out new things, not
through getting the “right” answer - preventing
mistakes is not healthy for a growing, adaptive brain
repeated electrical stimulation, along with increased
input of nutrients, fosters cell growth through dendritic
branching and formation of new synapses
new synapses usually appear after learning occurs
memory is enhanced through relevant, varied,
engaging repetition and through applying complex
thinking strategies
IDEAS TO CONSIDER
ENRICHED ENVIRONMENTS GROW BETTER
BRAINS: integrate stories, reading, conversation, movement,
music, arts into experiences, provide challenging problem
solving, provide opportunities for choice
CHALLENGE: The single best way to grow a better brain is
through challenging problem solving, critical thinking, relevant
projects, complex activities.
FEEDBACK:
specific, not general; multi-modal
THE ART OF CHANGING THE
BRAIN - ZULL
Nutrition
Exercise
Genes
Challenge,language development, and arts
Love
Feedback