Brain – Use or Lose It • Four Factors – Mental Agility • Sleep and Memory • Textbook Marking • Nutrition and the Brain • Textbook Reading • Environment Shapes the Brain • Mapping • G.A.P. Study Strategy • Test Anxiety • Imagery and the Nervous System • Plasticity of the Brain • Study Groups • The Nun Studies • Physical Exercise and the Brain • ADHD • Mental Exercise and the Brain • Meditation and Learning • Stress and Learning • Mental Action Imagery • Test-Wiseness • Cornell Note-Taking
The Principle is “Use It or Lose It” The human brain’s amazing plasticity enables it to continually rewire and learn- not just through academic study, but through experience, thought, action, and emotion. We can strengthen our neural pathways with brain exercise. A User’s Guide to the Brain – John Ratey M.D.
Use It or Lose It Brain is a Dynamic Ecosysystem The various neurons and networks are engaged in fierce competition for incoming stimuli. Networks that succeed in processing new experiences or behaviors end up as strong, permanent members of the neuronal neighborhood. While unused networks, cut off from the ebb and flow of information, wither away and die.
Two Profound Discoveries 1. The brain uses the outside world to shape itself. 2. It goes through crucial periods in which brain cells must have certain kinds of stimulation to develop such powers as vision, language, smell, muscle control, and reasoning.
Experience Determines How Brain is Put Together The world outside is the brain’s real food. The brain gobbles up its external environment in bits and chunks through its sensory system: vision, smell, touch, and taste. Then the digested world is reassembled in the form of trillions of connections between brain cells that are constantly growing or dying, or becoming stronger or weaker. Experience determines how our brain is put together. What the Brain can do depends on whether or not it is used.
Reassembling Trillions of Connection Studies Vision: convert brain cells that interpret sounds into cells that process visual stimuli demonstrated the interchangeability of brain cells in early development. Touch: (one finger task) demonstrated that mature brain cells can perform totally new tasks. Smell:within seconds of the first time a newborn smells its mother’s body, indelible networks rapidly form in the brain. Sound:without proper stimulation, the connections that allow brain cells to process sound, and thus language, becomescrambled. Experience or lack of it, can physically cause change in the brain and cause mental disorders.
Brain-Based Learning-Neurons www.educ.drake.edu/romig/cogito/brain_and_mind.html Neurons-- carry electrical charges and make chemical connections to other neurons Cell Body -- contains the nucleus Axons -- long fibers (extending from the cell body) that transmit messages Dendrites-- short fibers (surrounding the cell body) that receive messages Synapses -- tiny gaps between axons and dendrites (with chemical bridges) that transmit messages
Brain-Based Learning-The Dendrite Song (sing to “Clementine”) Use your dendrites,Use your dendrites,To connect throughout your brain.Take in info, analyze it,Grow some new onesUnrestrained. Axons send outNeurotransmittersTo the dendrites all aroundAcross the synapseJumps the impulseNew ideas can now abound. StimulationIs what the brain needsTo make dendrites stretch and grow. New connectionsMake us smarterIn what we think and what we know. Use your dendrites,Use your dendrites,To connect throughout your brainTake in info, analyze it,Grow some new onesUnrestrained. Leah B., a graduate student in elementary education at Long Island Univ. Leah
Development • CORTEX • 80% of the human brain – cortex has regions specialized for particular functions that make us human: • associating words with objects • forming relationships and reflecting on them
Four Factors – Mental Agility Four factors which seem to determine mental agility in old age: 1.Education, which appears to increase the number and strength of connections between brain cells. 2.Strenuous exercise, which improves blood flow to the brain. 3.Lung function, which makes sure the blood is adequately oxygenated. 4.The feeling that what you do makes a difference in your life. (Let’s add sleep!)
Sleep and Memory • Recent research reveals that "sleeping on it" is more than just a good idea. • In fact, neuroscientists now say that sleep is absolutely critical for key brain functions including learning, memory and performance. • Nearly half of the population (47 percent) mistakenly believe that the brain rests when the body sleeps. The opposite is true. • Sleep allows the brain to go to work, filing and storing the day's events. "Most people incorrectly think the brain is resting or recuperating during sleep. • Actually, some parts of the brain are more active when you're asleep,"www.bettersleep.org/media_zone/think.html
Sleep and Memory • Neuroscientists found that sleep allows the brain to take care of the business of memory consolidation. • "When you're asleep, the brain is processing information accumulated when you were awake. • It's no longer storing new input; it's organizing information," • When a person is sleep-deprived, the brain's ability to move information from temporary memory to long-term stores is impaired. As a result, the information is lost or forgotten. • "Sleep is a time when the brain can rehearse recently learned material. "If you're sleep-deprived, you'll remember less of newly presented information."
Sleep and Memory • Harvard Medical School researchers, led by assistant professor of psychiatry Robert Stickgold, found that people who slept after learning and practicing a new task remembered more about it the next day than people who stayed up all night after learning the same thing. • Getting less than 6 hours a night can affect coordination, reaction time and judgment, they said, posing "a very serious risk." • They found that people who drive after being awake for 17 to 19 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol level of .05 percent. • www.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/11/22/sleep.memory.ap/ & • www.cnn.com/2000/HEALTH/09/20/sleep.deprivation/index.html
Textbook Markingrefers to anything you do on or near the text once you have identified something as being important to learn. Textbook Markingcan be • underlining, • highlighting, • coding (like boxing a technical term and it's definition), • simple labels (like "ex" and "def"), • summarizing, • outlining, • charting. Marking is vital because it gets you actively involved in selecting and organizing the information and gets you writing to start the rehearsal process.www.acad.sunytccc.edu/instruct/grossman/Reading.htm
Highlighting: Highlightingtells you at some later point that the information was important. By itself highlighting is next to worthless. What it doesn't tell you is WHY OR WHAT MAKES that piece of information was important! This is a key - it is so much more valuable, both as you are reading and later, to indicate what made this worth marking. Don't just highlight it,write "def" next to it.Orcode it, along with all your other definitions, in green highlighter. Or box the term and underline the definition with a regular pen. Or write the term and the definition in the margin. All of these are more active strategies that identify what made the piece of information important to learn.
Some other tips and techniques: • Try to read one heading or sub-heading's worth of material before marking rather than marking sentence-by-sentence. This gives you a clearer picture of the main points and how the details fit together. • Try to develop a consistent coding system. • Use brackets of various types in the margins (with labels, of course) rather than highlighting or underlining whole sections of text. For example: The author defined the term "boycott" and then gave a one-paragraph illustration of Rosa Parks and riding the bus... You could put a bracket next to the whole Rosa Parks paragraph and label it "BOYCOTT EX. - ROSA PARKS" • Write margin markings in complete points and include numbers when appropriate. For example: 3 types of memory • Write markings as questions. For example: What are the 6 steps in SQ4R?
Brain-Based Learning Application • Food- Nutrition - Oxygen We all breathe the same air, but we all don’t have the same oxygen-carrying capacity to our brains. Physical activity increases the flow of oxygen to the brain, and non-repetitive movements such as those often found in dance, gymnastics, or martial arts have surprising positive effects on academic performance, especially on spelling ability and reading comprehension. http://thunder1.cudenver.edu//OTE/nn/vol9/9_1.htm
Brain-Based Learning Application • Food- Nutrition - Dehydration The brain is more than 80% water. In 1995, neurophysiologist C. Hannaford noted that poor learning performance can often be traced simply to mild dehydration. Dehydration is a special problem in areas like Denver, which are typified by dry air and high altitude. Learning specialists advocate eight to fifteen glasses of water daily to optimize learning performance. Soda, coffee, and common tea are considered as substandard water substitutes. Although some professors ban eating and drinking in class, one should rethink such policies, especially with respect to bottled water. http://thunder1.cudenver.edu//OTE/nn/vol9/9_1.htm
Brain-Based Learning Application • Food- Nutrition - Glucose Glucose is a major nutrient used by the brain, and glucose is most depleted after a night’s sleep. Thus “Breakfast of Champions” has special meaning for academics. Students who skip breakfast to attend a morning class will not be at their best potential for learning or participation. http://thunder1.cudenver.edu//OTE/nn/vol9/9_1.htm
Textbook Reading Tips Before You Read • FFind a comfortable place where there are few distractions. A distraction can be the television, other people, or even your bed! • GGather your pencils, hi-liters, reading glasses, snacks, and any other necessary materials before you open your book. Otherwise, you will have to interrupt your studying to retrieve these things. • QQuickly skim the pages you plan to read in order to get an idea of what you'll be learning about. If it is a large assignment, locate logical places in the text to take breaks. www.lsc.cis.pitt.edu/services/studyskills/workshops/texttips.html
Textbook Reading Tips • While You Read • RRead small portions of the text, and then try to summarize what you've read in your own words. • TMake notes or highlight only after you read the entire paragraph or section. Otherwise, you might waste time recording every little detail while completely missing the main idea. • TMake breaks periodically. Non-stop studying is tiring, and exhaustion makes learning much more difficult. Spread very large assignments out over several days. • www.lsc.cis.pitt.edu/services/studyskills/workshops/texttips.html
Textbook Reading Tips • After You Read • PPeriodically review your notes to keep the material fresh. • UUse other resources to understand topics which weren't clear from the text. Examples of such resources: other textbooks, your notes, the professor, other students, etc. • MMake up questions to test yourself on the material. • www.lsc.cis.pitt.edu/services/studyskills/workshops/texttips.html
Learning Neuron Competition to Make Connections • Neurons are constantly competing to make connections. • An accurate map of the brain would be different for each of us, and would shift over time. • Changes in environmental input continually move the boundaries. • Connections which receive input frequently will expand and take up more area than those that receive input less frequently. A User’s Guide to the Brain – John Ratey M.D.
Learning Changing Pattern of Thinking Changing your pattern of thinking also changes the brain’s structure. Example: Obsessive-compulsive patients who changed their problematic behavior by repeatedly not giving in to an urge, and deliberately engaging in other activity instead, showed a decrease in brain activity associated with the original, troublesome impulse. A User’s Guide to the Brain – John Ratey M.D.
Learning Neuron Competition to Make Connections Neurons get stuck in a rut of abnormal patterns of activity, becoming under active or overactive or just nonperforming. A person who forcibly changes his behavior can break the deadlock by requiring neurons to change connections to enact the new behavior. Important: Changing the brain’s firing patterns through repeated thought and action is also what is responsible for the initiation of shelf-choice, freedom, will, and discipline. A User’s Guide to the Brain – John Ratey M.D.
G.A.P. (Gather, Arrange, and Present) G.A.P. (Gather, Arrange, and Present) strategyis a tool that can benefit developmental reading instruction. G.A.P.teaches students to gather up all the ideas being presented from their textbook, the supplementary material, the lecture, and even other sources they collect in order to understand. Next, we teach students toarrange those ideas into main ideas, details, and examples by adding them to their knowledge mapcreated from the textbook. Then, we teach students toconfirm that they understand by presenting those ideas to othersto confirm what is known. Adding information to existing knowledge maps and convincing themselves that they know by presenting that information to others guides students through the thinking process of converting simple information into complex knowledge. www.ci.swt.edu/courses/CI5318/Caverly98.htm
Brain-Based Learning -Reorganizes Itself Good and Bad Ways When someone can’t understand language, or can’t read or do math, or has some behavioral problem, people tend to think it is caused by a defect in the brain. “It’s not a brain defect or limitation at all. These kind of problems really represent a different learning pathway that the brain has taken. Learning disabilities are usually learned. Akin to the discovery that germs cause disease. Kotulak, Ronald, Inside the Brain, 1997
What can you do to control test anxiety? • Be well prepared for the test. • Include as much self-testing in your review as possible. • Maintain a healthy lifestyle -- tough to do when you have to study for exams: get enough sleep, good nutrition, exercise, some personal "down" time, and a reasonable amount of social interaction. • As you anticipate the exam, think positively, i.e., "I can do OK on this exam." "I have studied and I do know my stuff." • Do some serious "thought stopping" if you find that you are mentally comparing yourself to your peers or thinking about what your parents, partner, children, or other significant others may say about your performance on this exam. • Before you go to bed on the night before the exam, make sure to collect together anything that you will need for the exam -- pen, pencil, ruler, eraser, calculator, etc. Double check the time of the exam and the location. • Get to the exam in plenty of time. www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/mcanx.html
Set the alarm clock and then get a good night's sleep before the exam! • Don't talk to friends about the exam material just before going into the exam. • Sit in a location in the exam room where you will be distracted as little as possible. • As the papers are distributed, calm yourself down by closing your eyes and taking some slow deep breaths. • Make sure to read carefully any instructions on the top page of the exam. • As you work on the exam, focus only on the exam, not on what other students are doing. • If you feel very anxious or even panicky in the test, take a few minutes time out and calm yourself down. Stretch your arms and legs and then relax them again. Do this a couple of times. Take a few slow deep breaths. Do some positive internal self-talk; say to yourself, "I will be OK, I can do this." Then take your time and get back into the questions.
What can you do to control test anxiety? • If the exam is more difficult than you anticipated, try to focus and just do your best at that point. It might be enough to get you through, even with a reasonable grade! • When the exam is over, treat yourself. If you do not have any other commitments, maybe you can go to see a movie with a friend. If you have other exams to study for, you may have to postpone a larger treat, but maybe a half hour for a coffee with a friend or a quick swim in the pool will be the pick up that you need. • www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/mcanx.html
Introduction - Test AnxietyTest anxiety is complex, but the remedy is fairly straight forward if you study using good study skills. The following lessons will tell you about anxiety, its symptoms, some things to know about learning that can help, what is usually going on mentally, how imagery can trigger anxiety, the relationship between muscle tension and relaxation, and an exercise that is very effective in reducing test anxiety. NOTE: Just because you forget on a test does not mean that you necessarily have test anxiety. The most forgetting occurs within the first 24 hours of learning - 50%, and the average student forgets 80% within 2 weeks. You may merely need better memory study skills.
Test Anxiety Anxiety is fear of the unknown. I turn the corner and come face to face with a tiger. I start to shake - That's fear.I studied for my test and know the information. I walk in to take the test and my stomach gets butterflies - That's anxiety. Anxiety has a "what if" quality about it. "What if" I don't pass the test? It is experienced from a past or future reference point with future consequences that may not even exist.
Test Anxiety State and Context Dependency Hang in there; all of this will come together in the Progressive Muscle Relaxation and Imagery Exercise. Context dependency states that where you learn information, you recall it better there. If you are at the kitchen table by the refrig when studying, then you will recall the information better there than anywhere. In the imaging exercise we will do later, we will take advantage of this information.
Test anxiety Past, Present and Future If you have studied and know your information, but find yourself getting anxiety gitters just at the thought of taking a test, it may be that the test itself has nothing to do with triggering your anxiety. What is happening is that you are going to the past and making the past your present, thus affecting your thouhgts about the future. Let's move to the next page and find out what is happening to cause this.
Imagery and the Nervous System Listen carefully - The nervous system can't tell the difference between imagery and reality. If you sit in a chair close your eyes and practice shooting free throws with a basketball in your mind's eye, studies show that you will improve just as much as you would if you had actually practiced shooting free throws. Remember Context Dependency in an earlier lesson - you recall information better where you learned it. Ideally, you would study in the classroom where you are going to take the test. But the world isn't ideal, so we go for the next best thing.
Imagery and the Nervous System – cont. We study and learn our information, Then relax our muscles Next we review by sitting in a chair with our eyes closed and image the classroom where we are going to take the test in as much detail as possible. Then, we mentally go over the information while imaging the classroom. It works just like studying in the classroom. The imaging exercise we do following the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise. This pairs relaxation with the information and with the test taking situation.
Muscle Tension and Relaxation Here is a simple, but powerful piece of information. There is a one-to-one correspondence between muscle tension and anxiety. To the extent you have muscle tension, to that extent you are anxious. If you can relax your muscles, you will reduce anxiety. If you can train your muscles to relax deeply on command, then you will have taken a giant step toward being able to reduce anxiety. That is the function of the Progressive Muscle Relaxation Exercise to come.
Muscle Tension and Relaxation –cont. One way of reducing anxiety is through progressive muscle relaxation. What is it and how does it work? The process of progressive muscle relaxation is simply that of isolating one muscle group, creating tension for 8 -10 seconds, and then letting the muscle relax and the tension go. For example: take your right hand, tighten it into a fist, and notice what happens. You can feel the muscle tension increase in you hand and up your forearm. The longer you hold it, the more tense it becomes. You become aware that it doesn’t feel good. In fact, it begins to hurt. This is an example of exaggerated muscle tension. If such tension exists around the neck you get a neck ache, and if it is in the forehead you get a headache. Continue to hold the tension and now, all at once, relax and let go.
PROGRESSIVE MUSCLE RELAXATION EXERCISE While sitting quietly and comfortably: Bend your right hand back at the wrist and briefly hold the tension. Now relax. Now do the same thing with the left hand. Hold the tension and now relax. This time tighten both hands into fists and hold the tension. Feel it spread up the arms towards the elbows. Now relax. Now bend both arms at the elbows and raise your hands up towards your shoulders. Tighten up the muscles in the biceps. Hold it. Now relax. These three exercises have used the major muscles in the arms and started them relaxing. If you don’t move them around, they will continue to relax becoming more and more relaxed, and you can forget about them
Next, turn our attention to your face. For your forehead raise your eyebrows up a far as you can and hold the tension. Now relax. For your eyes close them and then squeeze the eyelids tightly together. Now relax and open you eyes. For your jaw you just bite down and clamp your teeth together. Feel the tension along the jaw. Now relax. These three exercises have started the face relaxing. For your neck just bend your head forward as if trying to touch your chin to your chest. Feel the tension along the back of the neck and now relax. For your shoulders just raise them up as high as you can and notice the tension. Now let them drop all at once and relax. For your chest you do two things at once. You take a deep breath and hold it while at the same time trying to touch your shoulder blades together by pulling your arms back. Hold it. Now relax.
Progressive Relaxation cont. For your stomach you just pull in as if trying to touch your backbone with stomach. Now relax. For your back you arch out and away from the chair and you can feel tension along the spine. Now relax. With your feet flat on the floor, press down and feel the tension spread up the back of the legs. Now relax. For the right thigh raise your leg up on front of you and fell the tension build. Now relax. Now do the same thing with the left leg and relax. Finally, for your feet bend your toes up as if pointing towards the ceiling and feel the tension around the feet and ankles. Once again, relax Go to the next page for the imagery exercise.
The imagery exercise is to be done immediately following the muscle exercise. IMAGERY EXERCISE Remain sitting comfortably with your eyes closed Imagine you are sitting in the classroom where you are going to take a test. Look to the front of the room; notice the chalkboard, the walls, the color, the instructor's desk or anything that is in the front of the room. Then do the same for each side of the room. Next, notice who is sitting around you. Now observe the instructor enter the room and begin passing out the test papers. When you get your paper, go over it by recalling everything you studied. Keep your eyes closed and keep the image of the room in your mind's eye while you go over the information. That's it and it works.
Brain-Based Learning-New Concept of Brain • The brain has the ability • T* to rewire itself, • G* grow new parts from damaged cells, • A* and even make new cells. • This is called plasticity. Kotulak, Ronald, Inside the Brain, 1997
Learning Neuron Competition to Make Connections • The competition to gain more representation in the brain explains why babies born with cataracts that cloud their vision must have them removed by six months or never gain sight. • The brain must learn to see • making connections • stimulating them with inputs from the retina. • If pathways aren’t stimulated, they are eliminated as not useful.
Learning Remodeling Our Brain • We always have the ability to remodel our brains. • To change the wiring in one skill, you must engage in some activity that is unfamiliar, novel to you but related to that skill. • Because simply repeating the same activity only maintains already established connections. • Try puzzles to strengthen connections involved with spatial skills. • Writing to boost the language area. • Debating to help your reasoning networks.
Learning Challenge Our Brain Activities that challenge your brain actually expand the number and strength of neural connections devoted to the skill. When first established, these routines require the formation of new and different synapses and connections to neural assemblies. Once mastered they are pushed down to the subcortical areas and become hard-wired. Neurons initially recruited for the learning process are freed to go to other assignments. This is the fundamental nature of learning in the brain.
Why Form A Study Group? • Group study has long been a successful function in the college environment. Students coming together, sharing ideas, and preparing is a delightful part of the college environment. Group study is a helpful way to re-enforce the personal first time study and expand the range of learning. • Group study can build confidence in each student's ability and the group's ability to prepare for the most demanding tests. • Group study helps each individual to see the differing perspectives of their fellow students. • Group study creates an opportunity for each student to expand the material the teacher has given. www.byu.edu/ccc/learning/groupstr.shtm
How To Form A Study Group • Study group sessions can divert into a social discussion that leads the group away from the academic purpose. To improve the possibility of success students can follow some simple steps as they form their groups. • Establish a shared purpose. In the very first meeting a statement of purpose should be formed and goals of the group should be defined. These could be as simple as meeting every week as a specific time or as complex as designing a possible test to review with the teacher. www.byu.edu/ccc/learning/groupstr.shtm