Richard G. Petty, MD

Learning About Ourselves

Previously, I have recommended a fine weblog, Brainwaves, and Zach Lynch, the author, has another very important and interesting article. This time dealing with the way in which our brains handle different types of information.

We have known for some time that there are different types of memory that are stored in different regions of the brain and are accessed differently. The main types are episodic memory, that stores facts about personal episodes, and semantic memory, that stores general knowledge, such as the meanings of words, the capital of Peru and the way to the supermarket.

This new study builds on this knowledge, showing that self-referential thinking is associated with activation of a region deep in the right prefrontal lobe of the brain that is involved in coordinating many higher functions. In his blog, Zach makes a couple of good points:

  • Personal learning is both more memorable and more motivating. I think that a moment’s introspection will confirm that. It does not apply for some people struggling with certain types of psychological problems, but for the rest of us, we would rather learn something about ourselves, than some dry facts about cotton production in India. Most of us learn by association and connecting facts with personal events, interests and histories is likely to be much the most effective way of educating people. In fact most good teachers do this already. When I’m lecturing I constantly weave in stories that will personally engage the people whom I’m teaching. This research provides a rationale for doing so.
  • Some students have such a strong preference for personal learning that this may be the only way that they learn, so teachers need to be alert to these people and adjust their teaching methods accordingly.

In future research, it would be very valuable to see if these different styles link up with Howard Gardner’s concept of multiple intelligences. We are getting ever closer to the goal of being able to tailor teaching to the individual, to allow more people to fulfill their true potential.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

About Richard G. Petty, MD
Dr. Richard G. Petty, MD is a world-renowned authority on the brain, and his revolutionary work on human energy systems has been acclaimed around the globe. He is also an accredited specialist in internal and metabolic medicine, endocrinology, psychiatry, acupuncture and homeopathy. He has been an innovator and leader of the human potential movement for over thirty years and is also an active researcher, teacher, writer, professional speaker and broadcaster. He is the author of five books, including the groundbreaking and best selling CD series Healing, Meaning and Purpose. He has taught in over 45 countries and 48 states in the last ten years, but spends as much time as possible on his horse farm in Georgia.

Speak Your Mind

Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!

logo logo logo logo logo logo