10 - Summary video for Module 1دوره: Coursera – Learning How to Learn / درس 10
10 - Summary video for Module 1
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Although living brains are pretty complex,
this week we’ve used metaphor 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 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
The easiest way to tackle procrastination
is to use the Pomodoro technique.
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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