10 - Summary video for Module 1

دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 10

Coursera – Learning How to Learn

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10 - Summary video for Module 1

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Although living brains are pretty complex,

this week we’ve used metaphor and

analogy and

zombies to help simplify matters.

In essence people have two fundamentally

different modes of thinking that, for

the purposes of this course,

we’ve labeled focused and diffuse.

We used a simple pinball analogy to help

us understand the differences between

the modes.

The focused mode has tight spacing for

the rubber bumpers,

which seems to, in some sense help

keep your thoughts concentrated.

The diffuse mode on the other hand has

more widely spaced bumpers that allow for

more broad ranging ways of thinking.

The focus mood is centered

on the prefrontal cortex and

it often seems to involve thinking about

things you are somewhat familiar with.

For example if you’re familiar

with multiplication and

you’re trying to solve

a multiplication problem, or

you’re trying to find a word

that rhymes with another word.

You’re probably stepping along

the somewhat familiar pathways

of the focused mode.

But if you’re trying to solve or figure

out something new, it often cries out for

the more broad ranging

perspectives of the diffuse mode.

This mode, as it turns out,

is representative of the brain’s

many neural resting states.

Creative thinkers throughout history,

whatever their discipline have found ways

to access the diffuse mode often

more directly and quickly.

But we all access this mode quite

naturally when we do things like go for

a walk or take a shower or

even just drift off to sleep.

When we find ourselves stuck on a problem,

or even if we’re unsure of a situation,

the course of living our daily life.

It’s often a good idea once you’ve

focused directly on the situation.

To let things settle back and

take a bit more time.

That way more neural

processing can take place,

often below conscious

awareness in the diffuse mode.

The thing is it often takes time for

neural processing to take place,

and time, as well,

to build the new neural structures

that allow us to learn something now.

This is why tackling procrastination is so

very important.

The easiest way to tackle procrastination

is to use the Pomodoro technique.

That brief,

25 minute stretch of focuses concentration

followed by a bit of mental relaxation.

It’s through practice and

repetition that we can help enhance and

strengthen the neural structures we’re

building as we’re learning something new.

Practice and repetition is particularly

important for more abstract topics.

Memory of course is an important

aspect of learning.

There are four slots

in our working memory.

Things can fall out of those

slots unless we keep repeating

them to hold them in mind.

In that sense working memory is

like a not very good blackboard.

Long term memory, on the other hand,

is like a storage warehouse.

If you practiced and repeated something

well enough to get it into long-term

memory, you can usually call

it up later if you need,

although you may need an occasional bit

of repetition to freshen the memory up.

It’s never a good idea

to cram your learning by

repeating things many

times all in one day.

Because that’s like trying to build

muscle by lifting weights all in one day

there’s no time for

solid structures to grow.

We’ve also learned that

the importance of sleep and

washing away the toxins that

develop during our days activities.

We want to avoid taking tests or

doing anything difficult with little sleep

the night before cause its like trying

to think with poison on the brain.

And just as importantly, exercise

is surprisingly valuable in helping

both improve our memory and

our ability to learn.

We have had a lot of fun

while learning this week.

I’ll bet you’ll find next week’s

material to be even more exciting,

I’m Barbara Oakley.

Thanks for learning how to learn.

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