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Neuroplasticity and Technology

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  • 1. Neuroplasticity & Technology Facilitating Meaningful Change
  • 2. Neuroplasticity• “…the ability of the brain and nervous system in all species to change structurally and functionally as a result of input from the environment.” – Wikipedia, 2012
  • 3. Recent Discoveries• The brain is plastic right up until old age• New neuron growth occurs throughout life• Neuroplastic states can be deliberately and carefully directed
  • 4. Conditions for Neuroplasticity Attention Visualisation Intensity Imitation Duration Constraint & Immersion
  • 5. Focused Attention• Focussing the mind is the first step to facilitating the neuroplastic state• Stimulation of certain parts of the brain causes the creation of connectomes or patterned neural networks
  • 6. Focused Attention• Neurons that fire together wire together• So being aware of what you are thinking is the first step• Then conscious and focussed attention creates structural change
  • 7. Intensity• The more intense the experience, the greater its ability to readjust the neural network
  • 8. Duration• The brain always has some plastic ability - cognition itself is only possible due to the plastic nature of the mind• However for lasting structural changes to occur the experience must be repeated for several months• As the effects become permanent – Brain maps contract in size – Neural networks become more efficient
  • 9. Constraint & Immersion• Neuroplasticity and specifically “rewiring” occurs through some struggle – where the weaker circuits in the brain must be used in stead of the stronger ones - Constraint• This means that to create new circuits is to immerse yourself in new and unfamiliar cognitive patterns - Immersion• This cognitive dissonance is at the heart of neuroplasticity
  • 10. Imitation• Intentional Attunement – The neural circuits activated in a person carrying out actions, expressing emotions, and experiencing sensations are activated also, automatically via a mirror neuron system, in the observer of those actions, emotions, and sensations. – Frontal Lobes inhibit acting out – Therefor observation and keen awareness are crucial to the learning process
  • 11. Visualisation• Visualizing an activity activates the same areas of the brain that are engaged when actually doing the activity• Skills can Improve and strengthen solely through visualization
  • 12. Neuroplasticity and Learning • Neuroplasticity allows us to learn new skills and new way of being – constantly • The following guidelines may be applied to learning new skills and behaviours -
  • 13. Neuroplasticity and Learning • Attentional mindset to the task: It is essential to pay fixed attention. The more the student’s mind wanders, the less the rate of change. Even software programs and videogame programs require the subject to stay ‘locked in’ to the content and the process.” (Jensen, 2006, p. 82)
  • 14. Neuroplasticity and Learning Low to moderate stress: This variable is quite slippery because what is stressful for one may not be stressful for another. The bottom line is that the subject must perceive some choice or control over the task and the surrounding conditions. Otherwise, the stress from that loss of control may neutralize the positive effects from the learning.” (Jensen, 2006, p. 82)
  • 15. Neuroplasticity and Learning Coherent, meaningful task: The evidence suggests that random, useless tasks will create little or no change in the brain. It only gets the subjects irritated or bored. They have to buy into the task.” (Jensen, 2006, p. 82)
  • 16. Neuroplasticity and Learning Massed Practice: The ideal is sixty to ninety minutes a day, three to five times a week. Very young subjects may be unable to focus for more than twenty to forty minutes, but teens or adults are better at focusing for longer periods. This length of practice is critical or the brain won’t change much.” (Jensen, 2006, pp. 82-83)
  • 17. Neuroplasticity and Learning • Repetition of task: The brain will create new connections when there’s new learning, but these connections must be reinforced and strengthened or they deteriorate. The repetition should be daily, or at least many times week.” (Jensen, 2006. p. 83 )
  • 18. Neuroplasticity = FLOW• Csikszentmihalyi (1990) goes on to describe Flow as having ten discernable qualities or characteristics:• – Clear goals and the challenge level and skill level should both be high. – Concentrating, a high degree of concentration on a limited field of attention – A loss of the feeling of self-consciousness, the merging of action and awareness – Distorted sense of time – Direct and immediate feedback
  • 19. Neuroplasticity = FLOW– Balance between ability level and challenge (the activity is neither too easy nor too difficult).– A sense of personal control over the situation or activity– The activity is intrinsically rewarding, so there is an effortlessness of action.– A lack of awareness of bodily needs (to the extent that one can reach a point of great hunger or fatigue without realizing it)– Absorption into the activity, narrowing of the focus of awareness down to the activity itself, action awareness merging.
  • 20. Autopoeisis & Cognition• Autopoiesis means self-production. This relates to the characteristic feature of living beings that they self produce to meet environmental demands, in order to maintain integrity: autonomy-dependency paradox (Maturana)• Autopoietic systems are "structurally coupled" with their medium, embedded in a dynamic of changes that can be recalled as sensory-motor coupling• Therefor cognition is structurally determined
  • 21. Structural Determinism• Living beings are structure-determined systems• What happens to us in a given moment depends on our structure in this moment• Therefor organization determines the identity of the system• Furthermore living systems and the environment change in a congruent way – structural coupling
  • 22. Autopoeisis and Technology
  • 23. The Autopoietic Interface• The conduct of one of them is a constant source of stimuli for compensatory answers from the other -transactional and recurrent events• When a system influences another, the influenced one sustains a structural change — a deformation• On replying, the influenced system gives to the influencer an interpretation of how this influence was perceived.• A dialogue is therefore established. In other words, a consensual context is started, through which structurally coupled organisms interact. This interaction is a linguistic domain• Therefor a primary concern when designing autopoeitic systems is establishing this linguistic domain
  • 24. Autopoeisis and Technology Linguistic Domain
  • 25. The Technological Challenge• Technology has a far-reaching capacity as a tool for human evolution; this is because it operates at the edge of human ability, perception and cognition – If we accept language as the basis of our experience, that is - it is the linguistic domain that mediates experience at the autopoieitic boundary (autonomy- dependency paradox) – … then we may define technology as the mechanism by which that language is constantly being redefined – In this way technology is centrally placed as the mechanism by which human cognition may be expanded, influenced and guided
  • 26. References• Bohm, David. Thought as a system. London: Routledge, 1994.• Barnes, S. M. & Adamson, J.(2009). Applying Neuroplasticity Principles to Higher Education• Jensen, Eric (2006). Enriching the Brain, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass• Kolb, D. A. (2008). Organizational Behavior: An Experiential Approach to Human Behavior in Organizations. New Jersey, USA: Prentice Hall.• Mariotti, H. Autopoiesis, Culture and Society. http://www.oikos.org/mariotti.htm, retireved on the 19 February2012• Maturana, H., & Varela, F. (1980). Autopoiesis and Cognition: The Realization of the Living,. Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science , 42.•• Morel, B., & Ramanujam, R. (1999). Through the Looking Glass of Complexity: The Dynamics of Organizations as Adaptive and Evolving Systems. Organizational Science , 278-293.•• Roode, D. (2006). The Question Concerning Best Practices. Dept. of Information Systems, UCT.•• Senge, P. (1990). The Fifth Discipline: The Art and Practice of the Learning Organisation. New York, USA: Doubleday/Currency•• Thelen, E., & Smith, L. B. (1994). A Dynamic Systems Approach to the Development of Cognition and Action. Cambridge, MA, USA: MIT Press.•• Winograd, T., & Flores, F. (1986). Understanding Computers and Cognition. Califronia: Addison-Wesley

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