01 - Introduction to the Focused and Diffuse Modesدوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 1
01 - Introduction to the Focused and Diffuse Modes
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What do you do when you just can’t figure
For zombies, it’s pretty simple.
They can just keep bashing their brains
against the wall.
But living brains are a lot more complex.
It turns out, though, that if you
understand just a little bit of some of
the basics about how your brain works, you
can learn more easily and be less
Researchers have found that we have two
fundamentally different modes of thinking.
Here, I’ll call them the Focused and the
We’re familiar with focusing.
It’s when you concentrate intently on
you’re trying to learn or to understand.
But we’re not so familiar with diffuse
Turns out that this more relaxed thinking
is related to a set of neural resting
We’re going to use an analogy of the game
of pinball to help us understand these two
Incidentally, both metaphor and analogy
helpful when you’re trying to learn
If you remember, a pinball game works by,
you pull back on the plunger, release it,
a ball goes boinking out, bouncing around
the rubber bumpers, and that’s how you get
So, here’s your brain, with the ears right
here, and the eyes looking upwards.
And we can lay that pinball machine right
down inside it.
So, there you go.
There’s the analogy for the focused mode.
The blue bumper bumpers here are placed
very close to one another.
See this orange pattern here towards the
It represents a familiar thought pattern.
Maybe involving something simple like
adding some numbers, or
more advanced ideas like literary
criticism or calculating electromagnetic
You think a thought, boom, it takes off,
moves smoothly along.
And then, as it’s bouncing around on the
able to figure out the problem you’re
trying to solve, or.
The concept you’re trying to understand
related to something you’re rather
So look at how that thought moves smoothly
around on the fuzzy underlying orange
In some sense it’s as if it’s traveling
along a familiar, nicely paved road.
But what if the problem you’re working on
needs new ideas or approaches?
Concepts you haven’t thought of before.
That’s symbolized here by this neural
towards the bottom of the pinball machine
But if you haven’t thought that thought
before, you don’t
even know how that pattern feels or where
So how are you going to develop that new
thought in the first place?
Not only do you not know where the pattern
is or what the pattern looks like, but
see all the rubber bumpers that are
access whatever direction you do decide to
To get to this new thought pattern, you
need a different way of thinking.
And that’s represented here, by the
Look at how widely spaced the rubber
Thought takes off, look at how it moves
widely, bounces around.
It could travel a long way before being
interrupted by hitting a bumper.
In this diffuse mode of thinking, you can
at things broadly from a very different,
You can make new neural connections
traveling along new pathways.
You can’t focus in as tightly as you often
need to, to finalize any kind of problem
Or understand the finest aspects of a
But you can at least get to the initial
you need to be in to home in on a
Now as far as neuroscientists know right
now, you’re either
in the focused mode or the diffuse mode
It seems you can’t be in both thinking
modes at the same time.
It’s kind of like a coin.
We can see either one side, or the other
side of the coin.
But not both sides at the same time.
Being in one mode seems to limit your
access to the other mode’s way of
In our next video we’re going to see how
people access their diffuse ways of
thinking to do great things.
Thanks for learning about learning, I’m
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