Everyone has it, but hardly anyone really thinks about the grey mass between their ears. Or do you know how you can optimally support your brain? How you can learn most effectively in a brain-friendly way and thus develop your full potential? Brain-friendly learning – the term comes from Vera F. Birkenbihl – is at the heart of targeted learning. It is not only about proper nutrition, sleep, exercise and the importance of water and oxygen for our grey cells, but also about a new way of learning, because if we know how our brain works and functions, we can use it wisely.
The brain consists of 100 billion nerve cells, but the connections between the nerve cells are crucial for the function of our thinking apparatus. During learning, these neuronal connections grow and change. Synaptic learning happens slowly, here repetition does the trick, but often practice briefly. But beware of the same content over and over again – our brain likes to switch off here, it loves variety. Let’s take a look at the hippocampus, part of the limbic system, it plays an important role in the transfer of information into long-term memory. Whether it lets information through or not, like a gatekeeper, depends largely on the presentation of the content. The hippocampus also loves variety.
Learning with head, heart and hand. This statement by Pestalozzi has lost none of its relevance. Through the results of brain research, we now know how important feelings are for learning. Much more, they are the motor or brake for a successful learning process. In the amygdala, the almond nucleus, everything we perceive with our senses is examined. If danger seems imminent, the alarm is sounded, creativity and structured thinking are blocked and space is made for evolutionary bodily reactions.
Feelings simply appear, they influence our learning processes, but are also influenced by them. According to experts, we are successful in learning when our learning efforts are accompanied by positive emotional and social experiences. And laughter is particularly effective, it stimulates endorphin production and has a relaxing effect, reduces stress and can even relieve pain. Whether we are happy or sad depends on four messenger substances. When it comes to feelings of happiness, dopamine plays an important role. Without this messenger substance, our brain cannot process information optimally. Dopamine sensitises the cells to absorb new information, ensures that it is firmly anchored in memory and can be accessed later. Dopamine is a real learning booster and proof that learning is even better when you’re in a good mood.
Brain-friendly learning means above all thinking associatively, being creative, using the right learning and memory strategies. You should also learn what happens when you learn while you sleep and how you can support your brain with your diet. It is important to know what happens in your head when you learn, because then brain-based learning suddenly makes sense.