Sent: 30-03-2010 10:52:15
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Brain Rules 6
This continues my series on the 12 Brain Rules produced by Dr. John Medina, a developmental molecular biologist and research consultant: I have so far outlined the first 8 rules, more are outlined here:
9. "Sensory Integration" - For Best Results, Use All Your Senses
Your brain gets crucial sensory input from your eyes, ears, nose and skin. For enhanced learning, bring all your senses into play. We absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.), disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.
For example, you will retain more of what you read when pictures accompany the text. The more inputs your brain has to work with, the better you will learn and recall information. You also remember things better if you first encounter them in the presence of distinctive sensory clues, like smells or sounds.
The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals, so two people can perceive the same event very differently. Our senses evolved to work together, vision influencing hearing, for example, which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.
Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.
- Our senses work together so it is important to stimulate them! Your head buzzes with the perceptions of the whole world, sight, sound, taste, smell & touch.
- Smell is unusually effective at evoking memory. If you're tested on the details of a movie while the smell of popcorn is wafted into the air, you'll remember 10-50% more.
- Smell is really important to business. When you walk into Starbucks, the first thing you smell is coffee. They have done a number of things over the years to make sure that's the case. The learning link. Those in multisensory environments always do better than those in uni-sensory environments. They have more recall with better resolution that lasts longer, evident even 20 years later.
10. "Vision" - The Eyes Have It
Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain's resources.
What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it's not 100 percent accurate.
The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words. Expert wine testers can be fooled, and made to ignore their sense of taste and smell, if you change the color of wine they are testing. The same can be said if you change the colour of ordinary food, especially if it is a dish a person does not like. This illustrates how the brain prioritizes the sense of sight.
- We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you'll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you'll remember 65%.
- Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time.
- Why is vision such a big deal to us? Perhaps because it's how we've always apprehended major threats, food supplies and reproductive opportunity.
- PowerPoint presentations are invariable text-based (nearly 40 words per slide), with six hierarchical levels of chapters and subheads, all words. Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images. Medina suggests you burn your current PowerPoint presentations and make new ones.
I will complete the 12 Brain Rules next time.
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