Traci's Blog

"Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do." ~Goethe

The Brain and Learning

learning and the brain pic

This week, I have learned about the human brain, how it functions,  how it process information, and it relates to the cognitive theories of learning. Aside from my course resources, I discovered other sources of information about cognitive learning and the brain.

Does the Cerebellum Contribute to Mental Skills?

In this article, the authors propose that new structures of the cerebrocerebellar loops may contribute to skilled mental performance the same way the older structures of the cerebellum contribute to motor skills. Their proposal  was very interesting because the cerebellum is involved in balance and complex motor behaviors (Ormrod, 2009). This may suggest that there is a relation between the cerebellum and the frontal lobes of the brain, which is responsible for mental activities such as “language, attentions, reasoning, decision making, planning, self-regulation, learning strategies, problem solving, consciously controlled movements, and interpretations of other’s behaviors” (Ormrod, p. 33). The cerebellum is connected to the rest of the brain through the dentate nucleus. Through the dentate nucleus, the authors hypothesize that when incoming data is processed repeatedly, it is possible for the cerebellum to learn a new way for executing skilled activities; resulting in the transmission of signals to the cerebral cortex and the frontal lobe. As stated, “Signals from the phylogenetically older part of the dentate nucleus certainly help the frontal motor cortex to effect the skilled manipulation of muscles, and signals from the newest part could help the frontal association cortex to effect the skilled manipulation of information or ideas” (Dow, 1986, p.443). This article explains how interconnected the different parts of the brain are to each other. The cerebellum in the brain may contribute to functions greater than motor skills. The article also suggest how the contribution of the cerebellum to both mental and motor skills is consistent with information processing in the brain because information is processed constantly in the loops that surrounds the cerebellum. This suggest that the cerebellum in itself is a powerful information processing mechanism.

Cognitive Information Processing Theory

This webpage on cognitive information processing theory further broaden the information presented this week on information processing. Information processing theory has been related to computers in relation to information encoding, storage and retrieval. The webpage introduces me to three phrases that provided me with more insight into information processing. This article introduces me to the new term of chunking,  which “taking individual units of information (chunks) and group them into large units” (Cherry, n.d.).  Chunking is best used for retain information in your short-term memory. This webpage suggest organizing learning tasks so they can be easily chunked together by the student.

The second term I am introduced to is retrieval cues, in which suggest certain cues available can help individuals retrieve information associated with these cues. Of course, the cues are more successful when the information is stored in your long-term memory. The third term I am introduced to is selective attention, which is the “ability to select and process certain information while ignoring other information” (Expert, 2011). There are several factors the webpage mentions as influencing attention, such as the meaning of the task or information to the individual, similarity between competing tasks or information, task complexity, and ability to control attention. Based on this information,  I draw my on conclusion that individuals are active participants in the learning process.

References

Cherry, K. (n.d.). What is chunking? About.com. Retrieved from http://psychology.about.com/od/cindex/g/chunking.htm

Dow, R., Leiner, A., Leiner, H. (1986). Does the cerebellum contribute to Mental Skills? Behavioral Neuroscience, 100(4), 443-454. doi:10.1037/0735-7044.100.4.443

Expert Leaners. (2011). Cognitive Information Processing Theory. Retrieved from http://www.expertlearners.com/cip_theory.php

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate Custom edition).New York: Pearson PP.27-47

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