How to learn.
People who learn the quickest show the least neural activity, a new study finds.
The research flies in the face of the common myth that the key to learning is trying harder and thinking it through.
Instead, quick learners in particular showed reduced brain activity in the frontal cortex, an area linked to conscious planning.
In other words: good learners don’t overthink what they are trying to learn.
Professor Scott Grafton, who led the study, said:
“It’s useful to think of your brain as housing a very large toolkit.
When you start to learn a challenging new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, your brain uses many different tools in a desperate attempt to produce anything remotely close to music.
With time and practice, fewer tools are needed and core motor areas are able to support most of the behaviour.
What our laboratory study shows is that beyond a certain amount of practice, some of these cognitive tools might actually be getting in the way of further learning.”
So much of the education system (and the operational norms of our society) functions from the assumption that mastery results from trying harder, and that trying harder is fundamentally motivated by reward and punishment — motivating the brain to focus.
Yet, when we look at successful education systems, what we see are short school days, low stress on children, incredible attention to care for all aspects of the child’s well being and learning through the grasp of context and purpose.
Those children learn because they are relaxed enough to explore and the actual learning becomes more of body memory and familiarity rather than the result of strenuously attempting to remember.
The same thing occurs when we look at faith communities that bring real change to the hearts and minds of people. They too are a place of quietness, safety, grace, gentleness, freedom, peace and exploration.
The same thing is true of therapy as well.
Shame, fear, guilt and judgment all simply can’t have any place here…