Brain Lets Us Learn and Remember
How We Learn
Learning involves the following:
Attending to the new information
Associating the new with prior
Forming a temporary (working) memory
Consolidating temporary memory into
more lasting form.
How Brain Represents Information
- Encodes as a pattern of nerve impulses, flowing in certain
- As long as the pattern is present, the represented
information is available to be used.
- The longer the pattern is sustained, without disruption, the
better the chance for remembering.
- Disrupting the pattern can be caused by shift in attention,
new information, new actions and behavior.
- Interference that occurs too soon will prevent consolidation
into lasting memory. THIS IS THE PROBLEM WITH MULTI-TASKING!
Memories are stored widely in the brain. A major
problem for school children is in getting the memories stored so that
school lessons are not forgotten. Remember what you were supposed to
have learned yesterday? One part of the brain, the medial temporal lobe
and nearby structures, is responsible for converting temporary memories
into more permanent form.
view of the adult human brain with the temporal lobe outlined in white.
The temporal lobe connects by way of the
parahippocampal gyrus (Black asterisk) with the hippocampus, which
is folded underneath the temporal lobe.
People who have strokes or another damage to
these medial temporal lobe structures have great problems in
learning new things. Their memory for old learning is not
affected, nor is their ability to learn certain kinds of
conditioning, and movement or skills involving movement.
|The brain takes several days to weeks to make a new a new
memory last. The first few minutes after learning are needed to
encode new information firmly and start the consolidation
process. Refreshing the memory several times over the next few
days sustains and reinforces the memory formation process.
process continues subconsciously, even during sleep.
Insufficient sleep interferes with memory consolidation.
This conversion of short-term memory into more lasting form has certain requirements:
- The brain needs to pay attention so that the
information actually registers (encodes).
- Motivation to remember promotes attentiveness and
reinforces the encoding.
- Time must elapse (seconds to minutes for encoding;
hours to days for consolidation).
- Distractions and conflicting stimuli should be kept
to a minimum, because they will otherwise interfere with the
Does this provide any ideas for how to be a
better student? See Activity #4 for a
Learning in School