Learning Style: Think Physiology Not Psychology

I hear from many parents who describe their student's habits of putting off long-term projects until the last minute, doing homework but not turning it in, and knowing the material at home, but not doing well on tests.

It's also not unusual to hear that even though parents have given them their answers to these challenges, they just don't seem to want to hear it.  The assumption seems to be that if students just buckled down and made up their mind to be different, they would be.  As though it is all a matter of personality and will power. 

But what if it is not a matter of psychology, but of physiology?  Many people are surprised to learn that much of our recent knowledge and research about brain-based learning is coming not from the fields of psychology or education, but from the fields of medicine and neuroscience.  Thanks to stunning advances in technology and the use of such tools as fMRIs (functional magnetic resonance imaging), we can now see real time pictures of what is happening in the brain.  Studies have advanced to the point that scientists can determine which brain structures are involved in processing individual words!

Recent work in brain-based learning styles (the foundation of the Stressless Tests® Method) helps us understand which neural networks, and which neurochemicals, impact learning for better or for worse.  We can literally see the difference in the parts of the brain in which visual, or right-brain learners process information, compared to the structures used by left-brain learners who think in words and numbers. 

In one astounding study, with the use of neuroimaging, researchers could detect new neural networks in beginning music students after just one week of playing their instruments.  Think of it.  In one week, the physical brain was changed by the experience.  

Given all of this research-based knowledge, we now know how to teach people to intentionally access and strengthen parts of the brain that they have not habitually used.  It turns out that we are actually impacting the physical structure of the brain, creating new neural networks in the process.  For visual learners who literally think in pictures, we can now teach them how to tap into and develop their capacity to think analytically as well as creatively.  To use and strengthen their left brain, and thus their organizational skills.  To set priorities, and be mindful of time.

The next time you find yourself thinking, "If only she were more organized, or weren't so sensitive," remember, it's not psychology, its physiology.  Then sign her up for a Stressless Tests® class to learn how she thinks,  and reach for a new resource for yourself to learn even more.




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