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It is fascinating to think about how a brain functions and develops as we age. Each basic unit serves a specific purpose. The National Institute in Neurological Disorders and Stroke website (https://tinyurl.com/yaafcvn7) explicitly scaffolds the functions of the most complex part of the human body-the brain.
This three pound seat of intelligence and controller of the entire body system has three basic units: the hindbrain includes the upper part of the spinal cord, the brain stem, and a wrinkled ball of tissue called the cerebellum. The hindbrain controls the body’s vital functions, such as respiration and heart rate. The cerebellum coordinates movement and is involved in learning rote movements. When you play the piano or hit a tennis ball, you are activating the cerebellum. The uppermost part of the brainstem is the midbrain which controls some reflex actions and is part of the circuit involved in the control of eye movements and other voluntary movements. The forebrain is the largest and most highly developed part of the human brain: it consists primarily of the cerebrum and the structures hidden beneath it (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke,2020).
To see this visually is like seeing the intestine of a computer’s central processing unit.
When a child reaches school age, the brain absorbs information and works tremendously. In our twenties, we lose our neurons, the cells that make up the brain and the nervous system. By the age of sixty, our brains literally shrink. We use our brains to its full capacity; it loses its volume, the cortex slowly becomes thinner, the myelin sheath that surrounds the fiber of your neurons deteriorate. In the newsletter Medical News Today, common memory changes that are associated with aging include difficulty learning something new, multitasking, recalling names and numbers, and remembering appointments(Medical News Today,2020). All the aforementioned instances relate to my being. At 51, I started carrying a small notepad in my purse to write every appointment, reminders and what not.
But how do we really use our brains to its full potential? How do we recognize its power to gain new knowledge and recognize where its weakness lies? How does the brain really process learning? Why do we react to situations and physical challenges differently?
I am a visual-kinesthetic learner. I prefer to see what I am learning through sounds and pictures. I use color codes and would practically draw on anything just to help me remember. I enjoy working with groups and with manipulative or interactive learning tools. I wave my hand most of the times when I speak.
Kinesthetic learners remember best what they have done, not what they have seen or talked about. They prefer direct involvement in what they are learning. They are distractible and find it difficult to pay attention to auditory or visual presentations. Rarely an avid reader, they may fidget frequently while handling a book. Often poor spellers, they need to write words to determine if they “feel” right. Visual learners have greater immediate recall of words that are presented visually. Visual learners like to take notes. Relatively unaware of sounds, visual disorder or movement can distract them. They solve problems deliberately, planning and organizing their thoughts by writing them down. They like to read descriptions and narratives (Lincoln Land College,2021. Retrieved from https://tinyurl.com/zab99czh).
Reflecting on how I process new lessons, I see that each person’s brain works differently and that processing and gaining additional information depends on the “health” of the brain.
The brain connects to every experience a person goes through. Interactions using the senses stimulates the brain to receive and interpret these experiences. They organized senses in the brain as maps. After the sensory information leaves the primary sense organ (e.g. the eye, ear, skin) is sent to the brain. Again, most senses follow a similar organizational scheme. For most senses sensory information goes through a brain structure known as the thalamus before proceeding to different brain regions(Neuroscience in Action,2014).This is the very reason that as a child grows, a sound learning environment is paramount to the brain’s growth and maturity.
It is crucial to the development of the brain to have nurturing relationships as we grow. To have a loving environment, excite the brain to perform, and synthesize new knowledge based on feelings. Our senses are our link to the external world. They bring information about physical stimuli into our brains so we can process, interpret and react to our surroundings. Typically, we think of ourselves as having five senses: vision, hearing, touch, smell and taste (Neuroscience in Action,2014).
Good reads :
Lincoln Land College.2021.Characteristics of Learning styles. Retrieved from https://www.llcc.edu/student-services/cas/helpful-handouts/characteristics-of-learning-styles-2/
National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke.2020. Retrieved from https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Follow-Us
Neuroscience in Action.2014. Retrieved from https://blogs.brown.edu/cebn-0927-s03/