Learning and the Brain

The 80:20 Principle is a mental representation from Vilifredo Pareto, an Italian economist. Up to 80% of what you want to do can be accomplished in 20% of the expected effort. Examples: 80% of profits come from 20% of products; 20% of baggage screeners account for 80% of mistakes according to the New York Times. (Gardner, Howard. Changing Minds. p 7-8. MA: Harvard Business School Press, 2006.)

Education can be fixed but it will involve doing what is best. This will involve engaging the phenomenal power of students’ brains when switched on, plus the right structures for education. There are always a minority of methods, practitioners, and approaches that produce overwhelmingly superior results. These need to be duplicated! (Koch, Richard. The 80:20 Principle. p 248. NY: Currency Doubleday, 1999.)

Children who have been abused are much more likely to exhibit cognitive difficulties in learning. They are also more prone to depression, more likely as adults to get in trouble with the law, and commit more crimes of violence. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 198-199. NY: Bantam Books, 1995.)

ADD is basically a genetically inherited disorder involving a deficiency of dopamine. Avoid arguing, yelling, drama, etc. When ADD individuals don’t get the drama and the adrenalin rush they improve in the long term. Conflict-seeking people may get others upset to get adrenalin. (Amen, Daniel G., MD. Change Your Brain Change Your Life. p 116-117, 144-146. NY: T imes Books, 1998.)

According to Dr. Restak, there is a real increase in ADD, resulting at least partially from the influence on our brains of television and the computer. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 133-136. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

Refer to Dysfunctions of the Brain for additional information.

Equation: Intrinsic interest + a reward = greater intrinsic interest. Before age 8 or 9, children tend to use an additivity principle, and think that people who performed activities for a reward like the activities more. (Refer to Discounting Principle.) (Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. p 57-58. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

Two studies have linked ADHD with a deficiency in dopamine in the brain. This may be one reason for higher risk for substance abuse in people with ADHD as they attempt to self-medicate their brains. (Amen, Daniel, MD. The Brain in the News, Amen Clinic Newsletter. August, 2007.)

The incidence of ADHD is about 10% of all school children and is found very much more in boys than in girls. The reason is because boys have a higher incidence of right brain dominance than girls do. The male hormone Testosterone boosts the right hemisphere and Estrogen the female hormone boosts left hemisphere. It presents as either a learning problem (left brain immaturity) or behavior problem (right brain excess), or both. (Levin, W. J. Dr. ATTENTIONAL DEFICIT HYPERACTIVITY DISORDER. 1999.)

Refer to Dysfunctions of the Brain for additional information.

Learning good emotional skills early in life helps to support competencies such as self-control and the drive to achieve, collaboration, and persuasion. It requires motivation and more effort and energy to learn those skills in adulthood. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD, with Richard Boyatzis, and Annie Mckee. Primal Leadership. p 104-106. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, 2002.)

The male brain is hard-wired for aggression (e.g., related to testosterone). It is not hard-wired for violence. Violence is taught/learned. (Gurian, Michael, PhD. The Wonder of Boys. p 6-8. NY: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, 1996.)

Finland study: teens who don’t finish high school are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease many years later than those who get their diplomas and go on to further study. (Warning for High-School DropoutsFisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation. 2007.)

Refer to Dysfunctions and the Brain for additional information.

An amateur becomes self-focused rather than task focused, which disrupts performance. Self-evaluation and self-consciousness interfere and result in choking under pressure. An expert remains task focused even under pressure of competition. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 20-22. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Refer to Native Americans for additional information.

The amygdala is the fear center and obtains its information from concrete experience. If students can become more involved in their work they will feel less fear and nervousness, as the amygdala tends to be less active when the cortex becomes involved in cognitive tasks. (Zull, James, E., PhD. The Art of Changing the Brain. p 60-61. Virginia: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2002.)

Johns Hopkins study: Events that happen during heightened states of emotion such as fear, anger and joy are far more memorable than less dramatic occurrences. During emotional peaks, the hormone norepinephrine dramatically sensitizes synapses (the site where nerve cells make an electro-chemical connection) to enhance the sculpting of a memory. (Science Daily. Why Emotionally Charged Events Are So MemorableOct 2007.)

Anxiety, an excess of mental noise in the brain, can overload other brain circuits (e.g., attention, memory, learning, cognition, emotional stability). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 61-62. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

NutraSweet. Symptoms (e.g., impaired learning, headaches, seizures) may show up only after prolonged use of the sweetener. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 166-168. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Refer to Substances and the Brain (Artificial Sweeteners) for additional information.

Refer to Sugar and the Brain (Artificial Sweeteners) for additional information.

The brain requires bonding and attachment to fully grow and learn. Without attachment, the brain doesn’t grow too well. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 74-75. CA:Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

A child’s attachment classification as measured at 12-18 months tends to be predictive of school success. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 194-206, 212. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

The emotional stress in students (pre-school and daycare age group) is generally founded in fear of attachments loss. Imprinting of attachment loss affects memory and, consequently, it affects learning. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 76-78. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

A teacher has about 18 seconds to catch another brain’s attention. (Barron, Maria Almendarez.)

A general shift in society from left to right cerebral hemisphere processing (e.g., immersion in television and computer screens) has resulted in a shortening of attention span. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 136-137. NY:Harmony Books, 2001.)

General rule: expect to keep a learner’s interest for the number of minutes represented by the person’s age (e.g., 10 minutes for a 10-year old). Rarely will a listener be able to concentrate on a lecture for more than 25 minutes at one time. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 301-302. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

Researchers at the University of Western Ontario have provided some tips for those who have an auditory learning style or who need to absorb information in that sensory system (hearing or reading) in a specific situation. When listening, sit towards the front of the room so you can hear well and avoid being distracted by sounds others make; repeat information silently to yourself as you take notes. When reading, repeat information either silently or aloud; use rhymes or jingles to remember key points; for terminology, think about how parts of the words sound ; consider studying with a partner, taking turns reading to each other and discussing key concepts. Some auditory learners like to record themselves verbalizing key points and then play the recording back as a rehearsal strategy. (Source)

If an “Auditory” activity triggers: the conscious mind learns most easily by discussing; the subconscious mind learns most easily by talking to help sort thoughts; the unconscious mind hears the “whole” of something. (Markova, Dawna, PhD. The Open Mind. p 58-60. CA: Conari Press, 1996.)

Studies where same lecture was given to two groups of students, one presented by a male and the other by a female. Presentation by the male was accepted as much more authoritative, while those from the woman were viewed as less credible. Similar results were found when readers thought the author of a paper was male (viewed the paper in much more positive light) rather than female. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. p 10. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co,1978.)

Typically boys are louder, more physically aggressive, and more likely to engage in attention-getting devices than girls. As a result, more teacher attention is given to the boys. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 54-56. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Schools strengthen linear, beta thought at the expense of intuition and inspiration. Our culture rewards verbal over non-verbal thinking. Many have been punished for, and learned to apologize for, “daydreaming.” (Markova, Dawna, PhD. The Open Mind. p 28-30. CA: Conari Press, 1996.)

A study of 10,845 men and women born in early March,1958, in England, Scotland, and Wales reviewed results from school tests…and the qualifications they had attained by age 33. Conclusions: Bigger babies do better in tests, even as adults, but being born into a higher social class is also linked to improved mental ability. Researcher Barbara Jefferis was reported to have said: “Findings suggest you really need to take seriously ways of addressing deprivation in childhood and improving social environments." (Source)

In order to sing a song as adults, song birds must be exposed to their species-typical song during the period of time that begins soon after hatching and continues until sexual maturity. Similarly, language learning is more flexible in human children than adults (e.g., more difficult to learn a second language after puberty). (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 94-95. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Much of our educational system is geared toward teaching people to find the right answer. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one (discussed 10 blocks to creativity). (Roger von Oech, Roger. A Whack on the Side of the Head. CA: Creative Think (with Warner Books) 1983, 1992.)

The harder you use your brain, the more important it is to have adequate blood flow and brain glucose. Both memory and learning decline if adequate blood glucose reserves are not available. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. p 111-112. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2000.)

Boys get bored more easily than girls. Girls are better at self-managing boredom during instruction and all aspects of education. This has a profound impact on all aspects of learning. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 46. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

About half of people learn best when they approach a new subject “top down” (start with a broad view). The other half do best when they analyze it “bottom up” (begin with facts). (Stine, Jean Marie. Double Your brain Power. p 58. NY: Prentice Hall, Inc. 1997.)

The brain is most teachable during periods of high myelin and dendritic growth such as: 3-10, months, 2-4 years, 6-8 years, 10-12 Years (more girls), 14-16 years (more boys). (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Your Child’s Growing Mind. p 86-88. NY: Doubleday, 1987, 1989.)

The human brain development continues throughout life. Learning forges new connections in the neural network at every age. The bad news for couch potatoes is that more than muscles are getting soft and flabby, the brain, as well. (Brynie, Faith Hickman. 101 Questions Your Brain Has Asked About Itself But Couldn’t Answer, Until Now. p 22. CT: Millbrook Press, 1998.)

The brain can be used only to the extent that it has become organized, which occurs over roughly a 20-year period. The time is required because of the huge number of neurons involve. Neurons literally grow, becoming larger and more complex, and at least some of the growth being influenced by input and experience. (Hart, Leslie, A. Human Brain and Human Learning. p 118. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

The human brain loves to learn unless it is in a brain-antagonistic environment. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 257-258. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

High levels of cortisol due to chronic stress impair immune system function, impair memory and learning, and destroy brain cells. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 55. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Brain breaks are simple, structured physical movements that increase oxygen in the blood stream and lead to improved concentration (e.g., stretch, stand and roll shoulders, trace words in the air with your finger). (Expanding the horizons of possibilities. What Are Brain Breaks?)

Employees will retain as much information as possible if trainers give them breaks in the learning process by holding training sessions for one hour each day over a few weeks rather than squeezing training into a single day. Employees can further maximize learning by getting enough rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. "Without REM sleep, we lose what we learned the day preceding sleep," says Pierce Howard, director of research at the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies in Charlotte, N.C. (Fox, Adrienne. The Brain at Work. Human Resources Magazine (03/08) Vol. 53, No. 3, p. 37.)

Learning switches on genes in nerve cells that stimulate growth of dendrites and synapses. Exerting your brain intellectually, starting in childhood, spurs brain cells to explode with new branches, creating millions of new synapses. Consistent mental stimulation actually builds more brain tissue, more brain cells to call on should your brain run into trouble with an injury. (Carper, Jean. Your Miracle Brain. p 32-34. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., 2000.)

Within 3-4 weeks of training (e.g., learning a sequence of finger movements) fMRI studies could discern changes in activity patterns in three progressive parts of the brain: prefrontal cortex, supplementary motor cortex, and primary motor cortex. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 8-10. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Workers need a 5-10 minutes break (ideally involving some level of exercise) for every one-two hours of work. (Brain Ergonomics and the Workplace.)

Traditional classrooms tend to favor students with Left-brain dominance and full sensory access: dominant right hand, eye, ear and leg. Students with right-brain dominance (especially if all sensory access functions are right-dominant) may be at the greatest disadvantage. (Bluestein, Jane, PhD. My Brain Doesn’t Work Like That” Back-Door Approaches to Learning. 2004.)

A basic principle of brain-based education is that there are special times for learning (critical periods, windows of opportunity) during which information has to be obtained or it won’t be stored. That’s why misalignment of a child’s eyes has to be corrected in early life. Once the critical period is over (that is, once synapses in the cortex are wired), the window closes. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 94-95. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

Sugary starchy foods should be avoided in school as they make the brain groggy. High-fiber food, protein, yogurt, soy milk (better than cow’s milk) help the child to stay away and promote brain cell growth. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 86-89. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Hebb proposed that groups of neurons that fire together make up what he called a cell assembly. Neurons in the assembly can continue to fire after an event tht has triggered them and this persistence is a form of memroy. THinkinf is the sequential activation of assemblies. "Neurons that fire together, wire together. (Newberg, Andrew, MD. How God Changes Your Brain. p 13-14. NY: Ballantine Books, 2009)

Refer to Cellular Memory (Epigenetics) for additional information.

According to Dr. Zull, the biggest differences in brain function (after right-left hemispheric differences), involve the front and back cortical systems of the cerebrum. The cerebral cortex has four major functions and if any of those are missing, you are missing a nervous system. The four major functions are: 1) Sensing,  2) Moving [motor], Integrating [two types]. Of these, integrating is one of the most crucial aspects of how brains learn and involves the interplay of the front and back cortex regions of the brain. The frontal cortex is involved in creating ideas, transforming ideas into actions, and then taking action, while the back cortex is involved with information, data, and memories. (Zull, James E., PhD. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. VA: Stylus Publishing, 2002.)

If you stop learning (including any subject that interests you), your overall performance and mental capacity will decline due to a weakening and eventual loss of brain networks. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 27-30. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

The challenge now is to transform education systems into something better suited to the real needs of the 21st century. At the heart of this transformation there has to be a radically different view of human intelligence and of creativity.  (Robinson, Ken, Sir, PhD. Out of Our Minds. p 14. NY: Capstone Publishing Ltd, 2001, 2011)

Learning and change are connected. Change requires learning. Self-managed learning that comes directly from experience leads to thriving. (Siebert, Al, PhD. The Survivor Personality. p 16-17. NY: A Perigee Book, 1993.)

People who play chess regularly may raise their IQ scores, especially if they play with that intent. (Dini, Kourosh, MD. Video Game Play and Addiction – a Guide for Parents. p 5. N: iUniverse Books, 2008.)

An individual’s chronological age should not be used as a basis for expecting equal achievement. There can be a five year difference in maturation between any two children who are the same age chronologically. (Caine, Renate Nummela, and Geoffrey Caine. Making Connections: Teaching and the Human Brain. p 80-81. VA: ASCD, 1991.)

Chunking information into small steps and then reassembling into the original whole can help people learn more rapidly. Most people can consciously process 5-9 chunks at a time. (Robbins, Anthony. Unlimited Power. p 120-122. NY: Fireside, 1986.)

The classroom did not come from Mount Sinai. It came from militaristic, regimented Prussia, imported by Horace Mann. Never has it worked to produce adequate student learning. (Hart, Leslie A. Human Brain and Human Learning. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

In general girls study harder, are quieter in class, and get better grades while boys are louder, get worse grades, and goof off more. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 58-60. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Young learners: limit to periods of 5-10 minutes each. Adolescents: limit sessions to 10-15 minutes each. Adults: 25 minute sessions. Follow each with elaboration activity (e.g., walking, stretching, deep breaching, mind-mapping, recess). (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 49. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.)

Yellow is the first color distinguished in the brain and is often recommended for classrooms. Studies by Deborah Sharpe, author of The Psychology of Color and Design, found that the color yellow is connected with cheer, happiness, and fun. (Colby, Barbara, ASID. Color & Light: Influences and Impact. p 59. CA: Barbara Colby, 1990.)

Faber Birren in his book Color and Human Response, reports that in general yellow elicits positive moods while the color green is good for productivity and long-term energy. (Howard, Pierce, J. PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 703. GA: Bard Press, 2000.)

The brain was designed to deal with natural complexity in the environment of everyday living, not lesson plans in the filtered, highly contrived school environment. (Hart, Leslie A. Human Brain and Human Learning. p 75-76. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

Students with handwriting problems should be offered computers or word processors to use. (Levine, Mel, MD. A Mind at a Time. p 185-187. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002.)

There is a place for some computer games (e.g., those that simulate real experiences such as flying an airplane or driving a racing car) that demand a shift from left to right hemisphere functioning. (Restak, Richard, MD. Mozart’s Brain and the Fighter Pilot. p 194-195. NY: Harmony Books, 2001.)

According to Emmanuel Donchin, director of the Laboratory for Cognitive Psychophysiology at the University of Illinois, as much as 99% of cognitive activity may be nonconscious. Most adults spend most of their time subconsciously responding to life rather than consciously creating it. (Lipton, Bruce, PhD, and Robert M. Williams, MA. Mind or Genes: What Controls Your Life?)

The corpus callosum may be vulnerable to lack of practice because of its late maturation. Passivity during childhood/adolescence can result in failure to develop necessary skills. (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 159-160. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Chronic stress can increase cortisol levels. The hippocapus is very rich in cortisol receptors so increased cortisol and disconnect existing neural networks, decrease capacity to learn, and contribute to memory loss. (Goleman, Daniel Jay, PhD. The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights. p 46-50. MA: More Than Sound, 2011)

High levels of cortisol due to chronic stress impair immune system function, impair memory and learning, and destroy brain cells. (Childre, Doc and Howard Martin. The HeartMath Solution. p 55. CA: Harper SF, 1999.)

Studies: when children listened to stories (e.g., on radio and made pictures in their mind’s eye) they created more imaginative endings and details then when they watched stories on television/video. (Diamond, Marian, PhD, and Janet Hopson. Magic Trees of the Mind. p 220-222. NY: A Dutton Book 1998.)

To reward creative thinking in the classroom include: treat questions and unusual ideas with respect, offer opportunities for practice or experimentation without evaluation, encourage self-initiated learning, and tie evaluation to cause and effect. (Henrickson, Paul, and E. Paul Torrance. School Discipline and the Creative Personality.)

Much of our educational system is geared toward teaching people to find the right answer. But if you think there is only one right answer, then you’ll stop looking as soon as you find one (discussed 10 blocks to creativity). (Roger von Oech, Roger. A Whack on the Side of the Head. CA: Creative Think (with Warner Books) 1983, 1992.)

Creativity involves the capacity to use old programs in fresh combinations. Effective transfer of learning depends on using established programs in new applications and combinations. (Skill in effecting new combinations may equal creativity.) The learner who can adapt established programs to new tasks, by seeing similarities of patterns involved, learns much more rapidly than one who cannot. (Hart, Leslie, A. Human Brain and Human Learning. p 100. NY: Longman Inc, 1983.)

See Creativity and the Brain for additional information.

Not all forms of learning are subject to critical periods. It’s not known, for example if math or music learning has a critical period for synaptic development. Because different brain systems of the brain are involved in learning different things, there’s no way to generalize. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 94-95. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

It’s no longer a question of can we provide brain-based curriculums. We know we can provide learners with brain-compatible environments and brain-based curriculums that support their natural learning abilities. The question now is, “Will we?” (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning. p xiii, 380. CA: The Brain Store Publishing, 2000.)

The hemispheres alternate cycles of efficiency every 90-100 minutes (from high spatial-low verbal, to high verbal-low spatial). Learners switch from right- to left-brain dominant sixteen times throughout the day. Students need 5-10 minute breaks every 90 minutes. (Jensen, Eric. Brain-Based Learning (Revised). p 42-44. CA: The Brain Store, 2005.

Daydreaming is usually an involuntary mental activity that “pops into the mind,” while creative ingenuity is a power that is voluntarily harnessed. The more daydreaming, the less creative ingenuity. (Nedley, Neil, M.D. Proof Positive. p 283. OK: Nedley, 1998, 1999.)

Studies of fathers: Toxins in tobacco smoke can reduce sperm count and increase risk of fathering a child with learning deficits, hyrocephalus, or facial paralysis (Bell’s palsy). Mothers with direct or side smoke: can reduce child’s stature, hearing, maturation rate, and IQ scores by average of nine points. (Diamond, Marian, PhD, and Janet Hopson. Magic Trees of the Mind. p 78-80. NY: A Dutton Book 1998.)

Learning is defined as the establishment of new neural networks composed of synaptic connections and their associated chemotaxic patterns. Learning creates new synapses. (Howard, Pierce J., PhD. The Owner’s Manual for the Brain. p 44-45. NY: Bard Press, 2000.)

When parents are depressed, mentally ill, retarded, or otherwise unavailable it can have a profound effect …on the infant’s ability to learn to regulate physical and emotional feelings, particular during the first year of life. The baby of a depressed mother learns; it learns diminished expectations of attention and comfort from others. Babies generalize the behavior mirrored from the depressed mother to strangers. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 117. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Because brain development in the period before formal education sets a child’s capability to take part in formal education, the university faculties of education should ensure a sharing of this understanding by introducing new knowledge about experience-based brain development for all students for primary and secondary education programs. (Mustard, J. Fraser, MD. Investing in the Early Years: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do, 2008.)

We are more tolerant of children’s different abilities in sports and music, but not tolerant enough about their learning skills such as reading and math. (Tanenbaum, Joe. Male & Female Realities. p 53-55. NV: Robert Erdmann Publishing, 1990.)

Adults need to provide firm structure for children to avoid learning disadvantaged environments (e.g., nutritional sugar as in too much candy, mind sugar as in too much TV). (Healy, Jane M., PhD. Endangered Minds. p 166-168. NY: Simon & Schuster, 1990.)

Equation: intrinsic interest + a reward = less intrinsic interest. By age 8 or 9, children begin to use the discounting principle and assume that people who do things for rewards like the things less than people who do not. (Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. p 57-58. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

The educational system discriminates in its early modes of teaching against boys; it turns at a later stage against girls. (Moir, Anne, and David Jessel. Brain Sex. NY: Carol Publishing Group, 1989, 1991.)

Both hyperarousal and dissociation involve brainstem-controlled central nervous system activity that produces an increase in epinephrine and other neurochemicals. Unlike hyperarousal, dissociation results in decreased blood pressure and heart rate, and an increase in dopamine, that work together with opioid systems in the brain to produce a calming effect, lower pain perception, and altering one’s sense of time and space. For self-protection, many children employ a combination of hyperarousal and dissociation. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 167-168. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

(See also Hyperarousal.)

Refer to Downshifting and the Brain for additional information.

Four of every ten young-adult dropouts receive some government assistance. Dropouts are eight times more likely to be in jail, and half of all prison inmates are dropouts. (Press Release. STRONG READER – Cyber Weapon in Illiteracy/ Dropout War. 2008.)

Each year, almost one third of all public high school students - and nearly one half of all blacks, Hispanics, and Native Americans - fail to graduate from public high school with their class. Half of all prison inmates are high school dropouts. (Milliken, Bill. THE LAST DROPOUT. 2007.)

School systems cater to the left-brain, and students wired that way tend to do well in school. The other intelligences are, spatial, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic, and the most under-appreciated: kinesthetic intelligence. Kinesthetic people need to move, touch, and experience in order to learn. Those high in this intelligence often have a very difficult time in school. A large number of high-school dropouts are kinesthetic learners. (Watson, Irene. How to Reduce High School Dropouts by Half. 2006.)

Recent research suggests that the quality of a teacher is the most important predictor of student success. (Professional Development. National Dropout Prevention Center/Network. 2007.)

This learning disability describes a person’s difficulty in expressing thoughts through writing, graphing, and handwriting. It does not have to limit creativity. Provides a couple of dozen strategies for dealing with dysgrahia. (Source)

Refer to Dysfunctions of the Brain for additional information.

New neuroimaging studies: Schoolchildren who read in varying alphabets and characters and who are dyslexic in one language, say Chinese or English, may not be in another, such as Italian. Dyslexia, in which the mind scrambles letters or stumbles over text, is twice as prevalent in the U.S., where it affects about 10 million children, as in Italy, where the written word more closely corresponds to its spoken sound. (Hotz, Robert Lee. How the Brain Learns to Read Can Depend on the Language. Wall Street Journal, May, 2008.)

Dyslexia describes a dysfunction in the auditory receiver in the brain. The dyslexic finds it difficult to maintain attention for more than 5-10 minutes at a time. The sound distortion (e.g., listening through a defective telephone receiver) interferes with language reception. (Tomatis, Alfred A, M.D. Editor Timothy M. Gilmore, PhD, et al. About the Tomatis Method. p 45-60. Canada: The Listening Centre Press, 1989.)

Brain Scans: Dyslexia, a reading problem in people of normal intelligence and schooling, appears to be associated with dysfunction of the left temporoparietal cortex and the left inferior frontal gyrus in English monolinguals. In Chinese monolinguals, however, the dysfunction appears to center in the left middle frontal gyrus. In addition, compared to healthy controls, English dyslexic children exhibited reduced grey-matter volume in the left parietal region; Chinese children with reading problems exhibited reduced grey matter volume in the left middle frontal gyrus. These results suggest that abnormalities in both functional and anatomical structures of language processing might be language-dependent. (Shaywitz, S. E. et al. Functional disruption in the organization of the brain for reading in dyslexia. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci.USA 95, 2636–264. 1998. Temple, E. et al. Neural deficits in children with dyslexia ameliorated by behavioral remediation: evidence from functional MRI. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 2860–2865. 2003. Siok, W. T., Perfetti, C. A., Jin, Z. & Tan, L. H. Biological abnormality of impaired reading is constrained by culture. Nature 431, 71–76. 2004. Hoeft, F. et al. Functional and morphometric brain dissociation between dyslexia and reading ability. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 104, 4234–4239. 2007. Siok, W. T., Niu, Z., Jin, Z., Perfetti, C. A. & Tan, L. H. A structural-functional basis for dyslexia in the cortex of Chinese readers. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 105, 5561–5566. 2008.)

Refer to Dysfunctions of the Brain for additional information.

Because brain development in the period before formal education sets a child’s capability to take part in formal education, the university faculties of education should ensure a sharing of this understanding by introducing new knowledge about experience-based brain development for all students for primary and secondary education programs. (Mustard, J. Fraser, MD. Investing in the Early Years: Closing the gap between what we know and what we do. 2008.)

The EDI assesses five development domains. These assessments are macro indicators for population based assessments of brain development, not diagnostic indicators for the development of individual children.

Physical health and wellbeing - A measure of brain development in connection with how it affects physical health, physical activity, coordination and wellbeing. Above the 90th percentile, a child is physically ready to tackle a new day at school, is generally independent, and has excellent motor skills. Below the 10th percentile, a child has inadequate fine and gross motor skills, is sometimes tired or hungry, usually clumsy, and may have flagging energy levels.

Social competence - Above the 90th percentile, a child never has a problem getting along, working, or playing with other children; is respectful to adults, self confident, has no difficulty following class routines, and is capable of pro-social behaviour. Below the 10th percentile, a child has poor overall social skills and exhibits regular serious problems in more than one area: getting along with other children; accepting responsibility for their own actions; following rules and class routines; and showing respect for adults, children, and others’ property. He or she lacks self confidence and self control, finds it difficult to adjust to change, and is usually unable to work independently.

Emotional maturity - Above the 90th percentile, a child almost never shows aggressive, anxious, or impulsive behaviour, has good ability to concentrate, and is often helpful to other children. Below the 10th percentile, a child has regular problems managing aggressive behaviour, is prone to disobedience, and/or is easily distractible, inattentive, impulsive, usually unable to show helping behaviour towards other children, and is sometimes upset when left by the caregiver.

Language and cognitive development - Above the 90th percentile, a child is interested in books, reading, and writing, rudimentary mathematics, is capable of reading and writing simple sentences and complex words, and is able to count and recognise numbers and geometric shapes. Below the 10th percentile, a child has problems in both reading/writing and numeracy, is unable to read and write simple words; is not interested in trying, is often unable to attach sounds to letters, has difficulty remembering things, counting to 20, recognising and comparing numbers, and is usually not interested in numbers.

Communication skills and general knowledge - Above the 90th percentile, a child has excellent communication skills, can tell a story and communicate with both children and adults, and has no problems with articulation. Below the 10th percentile, a child has poor communication skills and articulation, limited command of language, has difficulty talking to others, problems understanding and being understood, and has poor general knowledge.

(Mustard, J. Fraser, MD. Early Childhood Development: How does experience in early life affect brain development? 2008. p. 20-21.)

What children eat profoundly affects their behavior and ability to learn. Carbohydrates with a high glycemic index build up serotonin quickly but are followed by jitters or feeling low. Boys tend to become impulsive, girls temporarily withdrawn and distracted. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 86-88. CA: Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Refer to Substances and the Brain for additional information.

The breadth and depth of human diversity is staggering. There are significant problems with current educational culture. 1. There is a preoccupation with specific types of academic ability such as critical analysis and reasoning, particularly with words and numbers. 2. There is a hierarchy of subject: math, science and language skills at the top; humanities in the middle; arts at the bottom. There is even a hierarchy of arts with music and visual arts typically of higher status than theater and dance (if the arts are even included at all). 3. There is a growing reliance on a narrow range of standardized tests, with children under intense pressure to perform at higher and higher levels. The consequences of these three? Students are taught a very narrow view of intelligence and capacity, learn to overvalue specific types of talents and abilities, and are socialized to disregard types of intelligences that are just as important. This one-size-fits-all approach marginalizes all individuals who do not take naturally to learning this way. (Robinson, Ken, PhD. The Element. How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. p 10-14. NY: Penguin Group, 2009.)

Learning is impacted by the health of eight brain systems: attention control, memory, language, spatial ordering, sequential ordering, higher thinking, and social thinking systems. (Levine, Mel, MD. A Mind at a Time. p 27-50. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2002.)

Einstein struggled with rote learning in school. In spite of that, he became one of the world’s most eminent scientists. His success in life, according to Walter Issacson, author of an Einstein biography, came from his imagination and creativity. Not only that, Einstein knew how to back into solving tough problems by using other types of intelligences. For example, when wrestling with a challenge in his work, Einstein would often grab his violin and play at any time of the day or night, improvising melodies while he allowed his subconscious mind to ponder solutions to complicated problems. Sometimes, in the middle of his playing, he would suddenly put down his violin and announce, “I’ve got it!” The answer to the problem would have become clear to Einstein’s brain, as if by inspiration, in the midst of playing music on his violin. (Robinson, Ken, PhD. The Element. p 49-51. NY: Penguin Books, 2009.)

Sometimes referred to as the mammalian brain, it is involved in memory. States that the brain learns by relating something unknown to something known. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 30-32. VT: Park Street Press, 2002.)

EQ can be cultivated and learned in childhood and at any stage of life. It matters immensely for one’s personal destiny (e.g., more crucial to happiness than intellectual intelligence), although it is routinely ignored in educational institutions in favor of academic abilities. (Koch, Richard. The 80:20 Principle. p 223. NY: Currency Doubleday, 1999.)

When emotionally upset people tend not to be able to learn, remember, make decisions clearly, pay attention. (Goleman, Daniel, PhD. Emotional Intelligence. p 148-150. NY: Bantam Books, 1995.)

Attention can become divided among the three brain layers when person is anxious, undecided, tense, etc. Each brain layer has its own agenda so person may think one thing, feel another, and act from completely different impulses. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 32-34. VT: Park Street Press, 2002.)

Johns Hopkins study: neuroscience professor Richard Huganir, Ph.D. found that during emotional peaks, the hormone norepinephrine dramatically sensitizes synapses (the site where nerve cells make an electro-chemical connection) to enhance the sculpting of a memory. (Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. Why Emotionally Charged Events Are So Memorable. Science Daily. Oct 2007.)

While a strongly negative emotional response to the environment can shut down a child's capacity to learn, a positive emotional response invites new learning. InTeaching with the Brain in Mind, Eric Jensen writes, "Teachers who help their students feel good about learning through classroom success, friendships, and celebrations are doing the very things the student brain craves" (1998, 76). (Graves, Richard L, and Sherry Swain. From Communion to Communication: Connecting Heart and Brain in the Learning Process. National Writing Project, 2003.)

Refer to Emotions and Feelings for additional information.

Boys can sometimes take hours to process emotively (and manage the same information as girls). A boy who had a crisis at home in the morning may come to school with a higher cortisol level than his sister…and may be unable to learn for much of the morning. (Gurian, Michael, PhD, and Patricia Henley, with Terry Trueman. Boys and Girls Learn Differently! p 30-31. CA:Jossey-Bass, 2001.)

Intense emotional states are remembered more readily than mundane activities. (Giuffre, Kenneth, MD, with Theresa Foy DiGeronimo. The Care and Feeding of Your Brain. p 48. NJ:Career Press, 1999.)

A learned pattern includes information plus the emotions experienced while the learning took place. If pain and fear were present, the individual may be reluctant to “recall” the information in later years to avoid the “trauma” and both recall and learning can be impaired. (Pearce, Joseph Chilton. The Biology of Transcendence. p 32-36. VT:Park Street Press, 2002.)

Ron Berk, PhD, author if Humor: International Journal of Humor Research: during students’ most anxious times, such as prior to or during an exam, humorous directions or test items may relieve students’ tension and help them perform better. (Stambor, Zak. How Laughter Leads to Learning. Monitor on Psychology website.)

Functions/abilities in the brain must be exercised and honed to realize their potential. Provides more than 95 exercises that can have a positive effect on the brain (e.g., scenario planning, thinking space, reflective writing). (Dickman, Michael H., et al. Leading with the Brain in Mind. CA: Corwin Press, 2004.)

Studies: when placed in a situation similar to their earlier testing experience, two-and-a-half-year-old children were able to access memories of a time when they were six months old, and the tasks appeared less frightening. (Karr-Morse, Robin, and Meredith S. Wiley. Ghosts from the Nursery. p 41. NY: Atlantic Monthly Press, 1997.)

Study: teacher who was told she had a class of gifted children, when in fact she had an ordinary class. She tried hard to challenge these “gifted” students. They scored higher than average on the same tests that had previously classified them as mediocre. They performed to her expectations. (Roger von Oech, Roger. A Whack on the Side of the Head. p 160-161. CA: Creative Think, (with Warner Books) 1983, 1992.)

Research studies: Teachers viewed their students in the ways that they expected them to be, and acted toward them in ways that made these expectations come true. At the end of the year, students who had (earlier) been labeled as bloomers showed significantly higher gains in the their I.Q. scores than did other students. (Wilson, Timothy D. Discovering the Adaptive Unconscious. p 54-55. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

Most systems in the brain can learn from experience, which means that the transmission properties of their synapses can be altered by experience.... Learning itself is not the specific function that circuits were built to perform. Learning is instead a capacity of synapses, something that contributes to the way circuits work. (LeDoux, Joseph. Synaptic Self. p 86. NY: Penguin Books, 2002.)

An expert remains task focused even under pressure of competition. An amateur becomes self-focused rather than task focused, which disrupts performance. Self-evaluation and self-consciousness interfere and result in choking under pressure. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 20-22. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Superior performance requires developing the ability to break the experience into multiple components and work on each separately, achieving high levels of control over every aspect. It takes time (e.g., superior music students most likely to become concert performers averaged 24 hours of practice per week, good students who would end up as teachers averaged 9 hours per week). By age 20 that’s 10,000 versus 4,000 hours. (Restak, Richard, MD. The New Brain. p 16-18. PA: Rodale, 2003.)

Explicit learning is effortful, conscious memorization. Implicit learning is absorbing a great deal of complex information without any effort at all (e.g., child’s ability to master native language). The adaptive unconscious, under some circumstances, can learn complex information better and faster than can the conscious mind. (Wilson, Timothy D. Strangers to Ourselves. p 25-26. England: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2002.)

For enrichment (environmental) effects to work, the animal must actively explore the environment, not simply passively watch it. These brain alterations are no matter of tinkering. Many billions of synapses can be made or lost this way, a capacity that lasts to some extent across the life span. (Quartz, Steven, R., PhD and Terrence J. Sejnowski PhD. Liars, Lovers, and Heroes. p 236. NY: HarperCollins, 2002.)

Extraverts may create their own disco effect with loud jazz music and bright lights, while introverts work hard to void these. Extroverts choose higher levels of noise in a learning situation and perform better in the presence of noise, while introverts perform better in quiet. (Ornstein, Robert, PhD. The Roots of the Self. p 57. NY: HarperCollins Publishing, 1995.

Study: Introverts tend to be more successful in academic environments. Extraverts tend to find those types of environments somewhat boring. (Eysenck, H. J. Readings in Extraversion-Introversion. NY: Wiley, 1971.)

Fantasizing is something that everybody does but relative few people use. Every student should be taught to use fantasy as a tool and how to control their imagination so that it works for them. Effective, creative adults make frequent use of fantasy (e.g., Albert Einstein’s fantasy of himself riding a ray of light in the discovery of the theory of relativity). (Williams, Linda. Teaching for the Two-Sided Mind. p 116-118. CA: Touchstone Books, 1986.)

When a student is fearful (e.g., what is the teacher going to do to me?) the amygdala sends subconscious signals to the body directing it to activate survival (defense) mechanisms. (Zull, James, E., PhD. The Art of Changing the Brain. p 60-61. Virginia: Stylus Publishing, LLC, 2002.)

Males tend to receive more positive feedback and encouraging responses, especially from instructors and female peers. (Eakins, Barbara Westbrook, and R. Gene Eakins. Sex Differences in Human Communication. p 49-52. Boston:Houghton Mifflin Co., 1978.)

Some people begin to fidget soon after sitting down. THis may be especially true if they're trying to learn something new and have just been told to site down and be still. Studies have shown that some brains really need to move to learn. For them, to figit is to learn. Of course, this makes the typical educational model of "sit down, be quiet, and be still" a nightmare for many. Conclusions from a groundbreaking study conducted by a team at the University of Centgral FLorida might help to change this. "Might" may be the key word here. The brains of some kids (e.g., Extraverts and those with ADHD in this study) may be stifled unless they are allowed to move while they learn. Some kids (especially those with ADHD) may tap their feet, swivel in their chairs, or bounce in their seats as their brains are busily figuring out a math test or some other educational equivalent. (Source)

Brain development in the fetus and baby occurs through a series of critical windows of opportunity, when the connections for a function are extremely receptive to input. Adults can learn to speak a new language with little or no accent, but they use different systems than the baby does (and the adult systems are not nearly as good as the baby’s). (Ratey, John J., MD. A User’s Guide to the Brain. p 40-41. NY: Vintage Books, 2002.)

If an adult learns a foreign language, a new region in the brain is created. Babies who learn two languages at the same time have a single brain region for both languages. (Greenwood-Robinson, Maggie, PhD. 20/20 Thinking. p 249. NY: Avery, Putnam Special Markets, 2003.)

Five forms of higher thinking especially relate to performance in school: thinking with concepts, problem solving thinking, thinking critically, thinking with rules, and thinking creatively. How well they work depends on what the person is thinking about and who he/she happens to be. (Levine, Mel, MD. A Mind at a Time. p 211-213. NY:Simon & Schuster, 2002.)

Studies by Author Stone, PhD at State U of New York: Having fun and pleasant experiences improve the functioning of the body’s immune system for three days—the day of the event and two days after. (Jensen, Eric, PhD. Brain-Based Learning. p 125-126. CA: The Brain Store, 1995, 2000.)

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