Concept five: Early learning is powerful.
Much of our most important emotional and interpersonal learning occurs during our first few years of life, when our more primitive neural networks are in control. Early experiences shape structures in ways that have a lifelong impact on three of our most vital areas of learning: attachment, emotional regulation, and self-esteem. These three spheres of learning establish our abilities to connect with others, cope with stress, and feel that we have value.
Every time we behave in a way we don’t understand, we have the opportunity to engage in an exploration of our inner world.
How can this concept be applied to our learning process?
Concept six: The mind, brain, and body are interwoven.
Physical activity exerts a stimulating influence on the entire brain that keeps it functioning at an optimal level. Exercise has been shown to stimulate the birth of new neurons in the hippocampus and to pump more oxygen through the brain, stimulating capillary growth and frontal-lobe plasticity.
Proper nutrition and adequate sleep are also essential to learning. Although the brain is only a fraction of our body’s weight, it consumes approximately 20 percent of our energy, which makes good nutrition a critical component of learning. Sleep boosts cognitive performance and augments learning while sleep deprivation limits our ability to sustain vigilance and attention. Sleep deprivation has also been shown to impair flexible thinking and decision-making.
How does an awareness of these biological realities can lead to changes in our learning schedules?
Concept seven: Brain change when you learn.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD , Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), says
“Education is key to slowing brain aging. Simply put, the more you know, the more you stretch your brain’s capacity for learning”.
“One of the better examples is a study of nuns in a monastery. The researchers analyzed the sentence structure of essays the nuns wrote before entering the convent, then looked into their cognitive function some 65 years later. Those who used the most complex sentence structure when they entered the convent had the highest cognitive function as they got older. (Here’s another important finding: Those who were most optimistic in their entries also had higher cognitive function.)”
“Learning even helps if it’s in a formal system. People with higher levels of education and those who continue to be involved in activities that stimulate the mind undergo less mental aging. A college graduate who also continues to learn in formal educational settings is 2.5 years younger than a high school dropout. But informal activity helps, too”.
“Keeping your mind active keeps arterial aging, immune aging, and even accidents in check and has a Real Age benefit of making you 1.3 years younger.”