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  Neuroscience and adult learning


This is an opportunity for me to create a meeting point between two areas that I have been engaging with for many years. As a student I majored Biology and continued for a PhD in Neuroscience.                

As a career I chose training and coaching and development work with adults, especially in organizations. So, I keep up to date with various books and articles in Neuroscience whilst training and coaching managers in various companies.

I read recently some new studies about the brain and was impressed with its outstanding flexibility and plasticity and the impact this has on adults who try to learn anything. So, I collected few down to earth understandings and applications stemming from these new studies. I leave the theoretical background for those who will be further interested. Here are some discoveries for you:

1.       Any new skill or learning develops a new area in the brain at all ages.

2.       The more you practice the new learning, the more specific the area in the brain becomes. Lots of practice allows eventually an easy “graceful” execution and performance.

3.       Practicing and learning without conscious intention does not result in long term changes in the brain and thus the learning is forgotten. Multi tasking whilst learning therefore does not work.

4.       In the critical time for learning when we are young there are two mechanisms that allow intense learning – the Basal Nucleus and the listening learning mechanism. Usually these mechanisms are shut down around the age of 6-8 and terminate our intense learning period.

5.       If a child is exposed to too much noise or “white” background noise of   electronic equipment , there is a good chance that their intense learning period will be shorter and they will have greater tendency to develop learning disabilities, lower IQ and greater tendency to autism.

6.       It is possible to reactivate the Basal Nucleus at a later age and enhance intense learning again.

7.       Most adults only use their early learning results in their career and in what they do daily and do not really learn new things after puberty. So, as adults most people are users and not learners.       As life expectancy grows, 50% of older people have a serious deterioration in their cognitive abilities.

8.       Learning a new language or a new physical skill at any age (even after 80) reactivates the intense learning and plasticity of the brain. But the learning should be really a new one.

9.       Practicing memory exercises can get your memory to a state of up to 25 years younger.

10.   If you walk barefoot a lot of the time, the area in the brain that is dedicated to our feet stays developed and large. If you walk with shoes all the time the amount of stimuli to that area in the brain decreases and the area shrinks, resulting in lack of balance and tendency to fall.

I think this is interesting and practical staff to know.

 

Aviad Goz

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