How the Brain Learns Best
Once Aristotle said that there is nothing in the intellect that has not been in the senses before, and he was absolutely right. Our senses are a kind of bridges that transmit information to the brain (Bos, 1997). That is why the sensory input is affected by almost all systems of the brain during the process of transmission. In fact, the learning process has its emotional as well as physical basis. Student’s capability to learn is strongly depended on the emotional and physical characteristics of their well being. Basically, the sensory input is filtered by various brains’ systems during the process of information transmission. That is why, students who are frustrated or scared will not be able to concentrate and maximize their learning potential. Let us have a look at the most vital processes taking place in a human’s brain that influence the process of learning and find out sufficient learning strategies that will help students to learn better.
Dr. Judy Willis suggests her own vision of how brain works. For this she set up a great scientific research in which she investigated the main parts of human’s brain and how those parts worked. According to her research, information that comes to human’s brain is selected by filters. The filters protect the brain from unnecessary information and select only the most useful ones. The selected information goes to the RAS (the reticular activating system). This system is responsible for color, surprise and curious events. Then information passes to another filter which is called amygdala. This filter is responsible for the emotions. Nevertheless, there exists the last filter which is responsible for pleasure and is called dopamine. This is a system of how information is transmitted through human’s brain. The process of information transmission should be desperately taken into consideration at school. Learning process is connected with the brain mechanism. That is why Judy Willis proposes her own method of learning which is called RAD Learning.
Judy Willis claims that there are two main processes that are essential to build better brains, namely the process of patterning and neuroplasticity. Moreover, there are three main systems which form RAD Learning. Each of the letters in the abbreviation is connected with brain filters, such as R is for reticular activating system, A is for affective filter in the amygdala, and D is for dopamine.
The RAS is the attention-activation system. “It receives input from the nerves that converge into the spinal cord from nerve endings in the arms, legs, trunk, neck, face, and internal organs” (Willis, 2008). Moreover, RAS is responsible for selecting information. That is why humans are able to pay attention to the information which is the most important to them and reject unnecessary information.
The amygdala is responsible for the connection of emotions with information. When a student feels stressed amygdala diverts the sensory data into the automatic centers, so called fight or flight respond. According to the process of evolution, the threat-filter remained in human brains, and it can be activated every time when a person experiences stress.
The dopamine is the brain’s neurotransmitter. It carries the information through the spaces which form when one nerve ending links with another. When the activity is pleasurable our brain releases dopamine. Dopamine helps to increase memory and children’s capacities in order to store information.
To sum up, with the help of RAD Learning it is possible to control the process of studying both at school and at universities. If the learning activities will be based on knowledge of the brain system the learning process will become much more profitable. That is why teachers should take into consideration the fact that learning process does not only consist of learning activities and various exercises but also of different physiological processes which take place in the human brains.
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