Learning and our Brains

Learning is how we obtain new material into our brains, this material can come from being taught by someone else, experience, practice or even using our perceptions/senses to acquire the new material. After learning, learners are capable of doing something that they could not do before learning took place (Olsen, 2009). Once we learn something our brains determine how we want to store the information. Sometimes we store the information in long term memory and sometimes we store the information in short term memory it just depends on what the information is and how we want to use it or if we will use it again. Despite the fact that the information is lost over such a short period of time, we would hesitate to say that no learning occurred (Olsen, 2009). Old learning knowledge can even replace new learning knowledge depending on how we need the information and how we store the information.

Learning is apart of behavior and can affect the way someone acts based on what that person learned or if they learn. After a person learns something they now know something new, which can affect the way act and the difference in the action does not always happen right after the new learning. Conditioning is how the learning changes behavior. There are two types conditioning, Classical and Instrumental. Classical Conditioning is, behavior is changed with the learning process through the environment for example using a neutral stimulus in the environment to obtain a natural response. Instrumental Conditioning is when either a positive or negative reinforcement is used to either decrease or increase the behavior from happening again. People also learn to survive as we learn our basic needs for survival. In order to survive people need food, water, shelter, self-acceptance, social acceptance and desires met. We know we have to breathe, we know we have to swallow to get our food and our bodies also know what to do for temperature changes to provide our best natural response and these natural responses are called, homeostatic mechanisms. Although both homeostatic mechanisms and reflexes are clearly conducive to survival, we would not survive long if we had to depend on them exclusively to meet our needs (Olsen, 2009). Learning is a tool used to accommodate adaptation by living organisms to their environment (Olsen, 2009).

Learning also affects the way that we develop cognitively, socially and educationally. When we learn we obtain material in order to provide a response to something. Cognition is our thought process through learning, for example thinking, remembering, problem solving, making judgments, language, and our perceptions. For example we learn that a cat make a meow noise, its small and has a certain shape and depending on the experience when we first learned what a cat was we will relate that experience to our response. For example we may be scared of that cat, we may be allergic or we may enjoy that company of the cat. Either way our brains know what type of response to provide. Even without a personal experience the concept of the cat can still be learned for example with pictures and repeating the knowledge of what the animal is through the pictures. With learning we are able to learn how to interact with people as we learn social skills as well as emotional skills for ourselves and we can learn to understand other peoples emotions.

People learn all the time in general just by the things they are around in their environment. Everyone learns best in there own ways. There are several types of learning styles that people learn with kinesthetic, auditory, and visually. Kinesthetic is more of hands on learning, getting tactical with learning. Auditory is when people learn best by hearing what they are learning. Visually, is when people learn best by seeing what they are doing, we are observing in order to learn.

As we develop in our life span we learn new things all the time weather we are being taught or we are using our own experience. Learning stimulates our brain and provides cognitive responses as well as a change in our behavior, which can happen over time. Learning is relatively permanent. In order to learn there needs to be attention on the information, memory to obtain the information, and physical motor skills to obtain and reuse the information.

 

Reference:

Olson, M. H. & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An introduction to theories of learning (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall.

 

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