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How Your Brain Learns and Remembers

Courtesy of Diana Hestwood and Linda Russell, Minneapolis Community & Technical College, © 2007
by

Mylene DiPenta

on 12 June 2013

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Transcript of How Your Brain Learns and Remembers

Connections form

neuron
dendrite
synapse
neurotransmitters
myelin
adrenaline
endorphins

New Vocabulary

Start with the right math/science course; the skills build from one course to the next. Take the rest of your math courses one at a time, in order.
Do some of the homework as soon as possible after class, before you forget.
Try to practice new skills every day.
To manage anxiety, set aside regular study-time in your schedule, get lots of sleep and exercise, and learn simple relaxation techniques such as slow, deep breathing.


So what should you do?

I’ve been absent for a week but there’s a test tomorrow. Can I cram it all in tonight?

Why can’t I take this math/science course if I haven’t passed the prerequisite course?

More questions…

Emotions affect learning and memory! Let’s see how it works…

Major Points, #6

Making mistakes, and getting feedback so you can correct them, allows you to check the accuracy of the connections in your brain.

Be sure to get feedback quickly so you don’t practice the wrong thing and build a strong, but wrong, connection!

Mistakes are essential, because…

It takes a lot of practice for dendrites to grow.

This is why you do homework.

This is why trying to cram everything into your brain the night before a test doesn’t work.

Dendrites take time to grow, because…

Dendrites take time to grow, because…

Major Points, #4

New dendrites can only grow off of what is already there. New skills must connect to, and grow off of, previously learned skills.
If you do not have the necessary dendrites in place, new material will seem to go “right over your head”.
So, start with math and science courses that match your skill level.

Dendrites cannot grow in a void.


Dendrites grow ONLY when you are actively doing something.

No one else can grow dendrites for you!

You must do something active to learn, because…

If you learn something new and do it only once or twice, the dendrite connection is very fragile and can disappear within hours.

Within 20 minutes, you remember only 60%.
Within 24 hours, you remember only 30%.

But if you practice within 24 hours, and then practice again later, you remember 80%.

Inside Your Brain
Your opinion: Do you think that you can grow your intelligence, or do you think that intelligence is basically not changeable?
What other comments or questions do you have?

Your Thoughts

Make sure you are actively DOING something when you study.
Make study cards.
Draw pictures or diagrams.
Solve lots of problems; check your answers.
Check your understanding by explaining how to do a problem to another student.
Create a practice test for yourself. Work it in the same amount of time you’ll be given in class.

More things you can do…

I understand what’s going on in the lecture just fine. But when I get home and start on the homework assignment, why am I lost?

I attend class and do all the homework and feel like I understand everything. Then why do I just “blank out” on the test and can’t do anything?

What does the “dendrite model” predict about these questions?


So what does all this mean for me?

Part Three (3, III, 1+1+1)

Endorphins make you feel calm.
Your body produces endorphins when you relax, exercise, laugh, or learn new things.
If you practice producing calming hormones, it will help when you are under stress.

How can emotions help you?

Mistakes, with feedback, are essential and good, because…

Major Points, #5


Dendrites cannot grow in a void. They can only grow …

Major Points, #3

You must do something active (explain, solve, draw, write, etc.) in order to learn, because…

Major Points, #2

Your brain knows how to grow dendrites just like your stomach knows how to digest food.

Think about a baby who learns to speak in its native language without any special classes or training!

You can grow your intelligence, because …


You can grow your intelligence, because …

Major Points to Remember, #1

What are the most important points for me to remember?

Part Two (2, II, 1+1, 3-1)

When you practice something, the dendrites grow thicker with a fatty coating of myelin.

The thicker the dendrites, the faster the signals travel. The myelin coating also reduces interference.

Build faster connections
Practice builds connections
Brain cells are called neurons.

You are born with at least 100 billion neurons.

Dendrites (fibers) grow out of the neurons when you listen to/write about/talk about/ practice something.




Neurons know how to grow dendrites, just like a stomach knows how to digest food.

Learning = Growth of dendrites.

New dendrites take time to grow; it takes a lot of practice for them to grow.

This is your brain…
© 2007 Diana Hestwood and Linda Russell Minneapolis Community & Technical College

Permission granted to individual instructors to use and reproduce for their own classroom.

Enjoy using your brain! The end.


I work full time. Can I do homework only on weekends and still pass the course?


Why should I do all this homework? It’s just the same thing over and over.

Use dendrite theory to answer these questions…

Anxiety floods your body with adrenaline (“fight or flight”).
Adrenaline makes it hard for the neuro-transmitters to carry messages across the synapses in your brain.
That causes “blanking out” on a test.

What can emotions do to you?

With enough practice, the dendrites build a double connection.

Faster, stronger, double connections last a very long time. You remember what you learned!
Build double connections

How Your Brain
Learns and Remembers

When two dendrites grow close together, a contact point is formed. A small gap at the contact point is called the synapse.

Messages are sent from one neuron to another as electrical signals travel across the synapse.


Special chemicals called neurotransmitters carry the electrical signals across the synapse.


When you practice something, it gets easier for the signals to cross the synapse. That’s because the contact area becomes wider and more neuro- transmitters are stored there.
Memory can be VERY short!
Make the most of practice
You grow dendrites for exactly the same thing you are practicing.

If you listen or watch while math problems are solved, you grow dendrites for listening or for watching.

If you actually solve the problems yourself, you grow dendrites for solving.

The dendrites this toddler is growing are for what skills or concepts?


Tips For Learning
Full transcript