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  1. 1. Brain Research Applied to Learning March 12, 2004 Presented by: Ben Gonzalez, Amy Himelright, Ginny Lindquist, Denise Lucht, Diana Matter, Niki Mott, Amy Pleasant, Cynda Zavaskis
  2. 2. Stuff Brains Are Made Of <ul><li>The brain consists of : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>8% protein </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>10% fat </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>72% water </li></ul></ul><ul><li>If “ironed out,” the brain would be a 2 ½ square foot sheet of soft, fibrous, electrical and chemical activity. </li></ul>
  3. 3. Energy Usage <ul><li>The brain accounts for only 2% of total body weight. </li></ul><ul><li>It uses 20% of the body’s oxygen supply –depleting 1 ½ pints of blood per minute. </li></ul><ul><li>It uses up to 30% of the total energy produced by the body. </li></ul>
  4. 4. High and Low Energy Times <ul><li>Circadian rhythms – peaks every 90-110 minutes, low energy 45 minutes later. </li></ul><ul><li>Verbal and spatial skills especially vulnerable. </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep/awake patterns. Natural shift during teens. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Left Hemisphere vs. Right Hemisphere <ul><li>Left Hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Intellect” </li></ul><ul><li>Right Hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>“ The Imagination” </li></ul>
  6. 6. Each hemisphere is specialized for a different cognitive style and treats time differently: <ul><li>Left Hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>Analytic </li></ul><ul><li>Sequential </li></ul><ul><li>Right Hemisphere </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic & intuitive </li></ul><ul><li>Simultaneous </li></ul>
  7. 7. Under Construction <ul><li>Between the ears, it’s a construction site: </li></ul><ul><li>Birth – 100-200 billion brain cells </li></ul><ul><li>Age 5 – brain reaches 95% of adult volume </li></ul><ul><li>Age 12 – construction is mostly finished </li></ul><ul><li>Puberty – neuronal growth spurt </li></ul><ul><li>Age 20 – connections in corpus collosum are complete </li></ul>
  8. 8. Brain Growth New Growth (learning) still occurs even after our brain construct is in place. It occurs by dendrite development; branching well used neurons.
  9. 9. Brain Growth <ul><li>As you read this your brain is using thousands of its 100,000,000,000 neurons. </li></ul><ul><li>While that sounds like a lot of neurons, it is only about 20% of what you started out with. </li></ul><ul><li>The brain prunes neurons that do not get used, and by adolescence our brain “construct” is in place. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Brain Growth <ul><li>Dendrite branching occurs primarily during sleep, so it is essential that growing children and adolescents learn. . . . And then sleep on it! </li></ul>
  11. 11. Sleep’s Impact on the Brain <ul><li>The brain needs deep physiological rest to perform at its best. The REM period (the dream state) is the most critical. Being deprived of sleep impairs learning and thinking. Students living with the following are at a much higher risk for having sleep deprivation: </li></ul><ul><li>Abusive or highly stressed families </li></ul><ul><li>Areas of high crime or poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Those impacted by trauma </li></ul>
  12. 12. The Results of Sleep Deprivation <ul><li>Learners who are not getting enough sleep may perform well on short quizzes requiring rote memorization. </li></ul><ul><li>However, may not do well on extended performance testing requiring stamina, creativity, and high-level problem solving. </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep deprivation contributed to three major accidents in recent times: </li></ul><ul><li>Three Mile Island </li></ul><ul><li> Challenger Explosion </li></ul><ul><li>Chernobyl </li></ul>
  13. 13. Sleep Tonight/ Remember Tomorrow <ul><li>Missing as little as two hours of sleep may significantly impair a person’s ability to remember information the next day. </li></ul><ul><li>There appears to be a direct correlation between how complex the material is and how important sleep is to learning it. Bob Stickgold at Harvard University (1997) </li></ul>
  14. 14. <ul><li>“ Cleaning the Desktop” </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep allows the brain time to “unlearn” </li></ul><ul><li>By eliminating unnecessary information (usually during sleep time), the brain becomes more efficient. </li></ul><ul><li>Sleep gives the brain time to rearrange circuits, clean out unimportant mental debris, and process emotional events. (Freeman 1995) </li></ul>
  15. 15. Classroom Applications <ul><li>Discuss the importance of sleep with students. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow students down time during the day for optimal performance. </li></ul><ul><li>Give students the opportunity to move, stretch, drink some water, or change their focus periodically. </li></ul>
  16. 16. Power of Positive Thinking <ul><li>The single greatest influence on learners is the classroom climate. Learners in a positive, joyful environment are likely to experience enhanced learning, memory, and feelings of self-esteem. (Rosenthal and Jacobsen 1968) </li></ul><ul><li>Research suggests that a “positive learning climate” promotes better problem-solvers and higher quality learning. In short, if we feel good, we learn better. </li></ul><ul><li>Learning is dependent on the physiological, emotional, postural, and psychological state that your learners are in. Learning and teaching flow easily when the proper emotional state is established. (C. Levinthal 1988 and Robert Sylvester 1995) </li></ul>
  17. 17. Laughter and Learning <ul><li>Laughing increases the white blood-cell activity. </li></ul><ul><li>Laughter may boost the body’s production of neurotransmitters critical for alertness and memory. (William Fry, PhD. 1997) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Classroom Applications <ul><li>Classrooms need to be positive environments. </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers need to nurture a positive attitude in their students. Laughing should be mandatory for all. </li></ul><ul><li>Introduce positive affirmations or humorous reminders in the classroom. </li></ul><ul><li>Remember we are not wasting precious learning time by including movement, breathing exercises, and humor. </li></ul>
  19. 19. Enriched Learning Environments <ul><li>New brain cells grow in an enriched environment. </li></ul><ul><li>Five keys to enrichment </li></ul><ul><li>Novelty </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge </li></ul><ul><li>Coherence </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Feedback </li></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><li>Providing an enriched learning environment at school helps compensate for a lack of support at home </li></ul><ul><li>Interaction with other high-achieving peers, teachers, and mentors </li></ul><ul><li>Development of strong belief in self </li></ul>
  21. 21. Memory Pathways <ul><li>Semantic – WHAT </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural Motor –HOW </li></ul><ul><li>Episodic – WHERE </li></ul><ul><li>Reflexive – WOW </li></ul>
  22. 22. Boredom and the Brain <ul><li>Boredom is debilitating. </li></ul><ul><li>Studies involving adolescent rats showed they were especially devastated by boredom. A boring environment had a greater thinning effect on the brain’s cortex than an enriched environment had on the thickening of the cortex. (Marion Diamond, PhD. 1998) </li></ul>
  23. 23. Stress & Threat <ul><li>Learners in a state of high stress or threat - </li></ul><ul><li>Experience reduced cognitive abilities </li></ul><ul><li>Have weakened immune systems </li></ul>
  24. 24. A brain under any type of perceived threat- <ul><li>Loses ability to correctly interpret subtle clues from the environment </li></ul><ul><li>Reverts to familiar “tried and true” behaviors </li></ul><ul><li>Loses some ability to index, store, and access information </li></ul><ul><li>Becomes more automatic and limited in its responses </li></ul><ul><li>Loses some ability to perceive relationships and patterns </li></ul><ul><li>Less able to use higher order thinking skills </li></ul><ul><li>Loses some long-term memory capacity </li></ul><ul><li>Tends to overreact to stimuli in a phobic-like way </li></ul>
  25. 25. Adolescent Brain <ul><li>The hypothalamus is part of the medulla oblongata that regulates basic needs (eat, fight/flight, sex). In adolescents, hormones, environment, and learning make this a “hot spot” leading to often times impulsive acting out. The hypothalamus supercedes the pre-frontal cortex which plays a role in making good, well thought-out decisions. While the hypothalamus is in over drive during adolescence, the pre-frontal cortex takes about 20 years to fully develop. Thus: your typical middle school classroom! </li></ul>
  26. 26. Helping Adolescents Learn <ul><li>Keep them safe (physically and emotionally) </li></ul><ul><li>Keep them fed! </li></ul><ul><li>Keep them rested! </li></ul><ul><li>Keep them INTERESTED! </li></ul>
  27. 27. Classroom Applications <ul><li>Teachers must teach with multiple approaches to the subject matter to successfully accommodate all of their students. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Boosting Learning <ul><li>http://www.help4teachers.com is a website dedicated to “Layering Curriculum”, thus making it interesting for the learner. </li></ul>
  29. 29. Boosting Learning <ul><ul><li>Tips for layering curriculum </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Present Assignment Options </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Require Oral Defense of Assignments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Offer Lectures as an OPTION </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Design and Offer Hands-on Activities for all Concepts </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tie Students’ Grades into the Complexity of the Thinking involved. </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Music With a Purpose <ul><li>Music can energize, relax, and increase productivity. </li></ul><ul><li>Music can boost intelligence. </li></ul><ul><li>Music can cause us to feel irritated and stressed. </li></ul>
  31. 31. When to Use Music <ul><li>Background music. </li></ul><ul><li>Brainstorming, problem solving. </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrating successes. </li></ul><ul><li>Opening, closing rituals. </li></ul><ul><li>Transitions </li></ul>
  32. 32. Making the Right Music Choices <ul><ul><li>Relaxation: 40-60 BPM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alert: 60-70 BPM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Active: 70-120 BPM </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>* To avoid saturation, use music 30% or less of class time </li></ul></ul>
  33. 33. Using Aromas <ul><li>Smells affect the limbic area of the brain which is responsible for attention. </li></ul><ul><li>Aromas that are useful for learning are lemon, cinnamon or peppermint. </li></ul>
  34. 34. Using Color <ul><li>Colors create reactions and impact learners. </li></ul><ul><li>Colors for optimum work environments include pastel blue, light green, aqua and some shades of yellow. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Color Meanings <ul><li>Red : urgent, important </li></ul><ul><li>Blue : factual, cold, impersonal </li></ul><ul><li>Green : soothing, relaxing, positive </li></ul><ul><li>Orange : playful, warm </li></ul><ul><li>Black: dominant, serious, cold </li></ul>
  36. 36. Peripheral Stimuli <ul><li>The brain can register 36,000+ images per hour! </li></ul><ul><li>The brain devours pictures, movies and images. </li></ul><ul><li>New research suggests that posters, pictures, and drawings are powerful influences on the brain. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Post positive affirmations . Use colorful, inspirational, posters. Use more transparencies, pictures, and charts when presenting lessons. Use videos and multimedia presentations .
  38. 38. Hydration <ul><li>Researchers believe that thinking, problem-solving and creative processes are slowed when the body is low on fluids. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Classroom Applications <ul><li>Model drinking water during class. </li></ul><ul><li>Talk about the importance about hydration and the brain. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow students to have water in sports bottles at their desks. </li></ul><ul><li>Allow students to leave class to get a drink. </li></ul>
  40. 40. Exercise & Activity <ul><li>Active learning increases blood flow in the body and brings more oxygen to the brain. It also triggers the release of endorphins. </li></ul><ul><li>Activities learned with the body are more likely to be recalled and applied. </li></ul>
  41. 41. Classroom Applications <ul><li>Include lots of stretch breaks. </li></ul><ul><li>Have learners stand and do deep breathing exercises, neck rolls, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Review information using ball toss or musical chairs. </li></ul>
  42. 42. Food for Thought <ul><li>MEMORY </li></ul><ul><li>CARROT : Activates the metabolism of the brain. </li></ul><ul><li>PINEAPPLE : Contains high amounts of vitamin C and manganese . </li></ul><ul><li>AVOCADO : For short term memory. It contains plenty of fatty acids. </li></ul><ul><li>HAPPINESS </li></ul><ul><li>RED PEPPER : The aromatic substances activate the body to excrete endorphin. </li></ul><ul><li>STRAWBERRY : Abolishes the stress. The fiber contents give happiness. </li></ul><ul><li>BANANA : Supplies serotonin… </li></ul>
  43. 43. More Food for Thought <ul><li>  LEARNING </li></ul><ul><li>CABBAGE : Slows down the activity of the thyroid glands. </li></ul><ul><li>LEMON: Due to the vitamin C that it has, it makes one lively and increases the perceptive ability </li></ul><ul><li>ATTENTION </li></ul><ul><li>SHRIMP : Supplies the body with the omega 3 fatty acids. </li></ul><ul><li>ONION: Dilutes the blood </li></ul><ul><li>CREATIVITY </li></ul><ul><li>GINGER : The substances that it contains enable the brain to produce new idea. </li></ul><ul><li>CUMIN : The evaporating oils that it contains stimulate the nervous system for creative thinking. </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul><ul><li>  </li></ul>
  44. 44. Brain Strategies for Learning a Foreign Language <ul><li>The best time to introduce your child to the sounds of different languages is before the age of two. </li></ul><ul><li>The best time for the brain to learn foreign languages is between ages one and ten . </li></ul>
  45. 45. “ Everything that we have discovered about the brain in the last 20 years suggests that we need more stimulus, more change, more movement, and more perspectives in the classroom” -Eric Jensen, Super Teaching
  46. 46. The Latest in Brain Research <ul><li>And what it means for gifted identification and education </li></ul>
  47. 47. Early Identification <ul><li>Measures of brain waves in babies 36 hours old successfully predicted reading abilities at age 8. </li></ul><ul><li>Children who detected and responded in a certain way to speech-like sounds were found </li></ul><ul><li>later to have higher IQ’s. </li></ul><ul><li>Researchers’ goal is to detect giftedness </li></ul><ul><li>and/or learning disabilities by 1 month </li></ul><ul><li>of age and develop appropriate interventions. </li></ul><ul><li>Native language of family is not a factor in the newborn testing results. </li></ul>
  48. 48. Possible Reasons for Giftedness <ul><li>Prenatal testosterone exposure </li></ul><ul><li>Enhanced RH development </li></ul><ul><li>Also connected with higher incidence of left-handedness. </li></ul><ul><li>Higher incidence of immune disorders: </li></ul><ul><li>Allergies, asthma, depression, diabetes, chronic fatigue syndrome etc. </li></ul>
  49. 49. Nature or Nurture? <ul><li>Brain wave measures at birth predicted “at well above chance levels” reading abilities at school age. So did activities in the home. </li></ul><ul><li>Cognitive ability is one of the most heritable traits in neuroscience. </li></ul><ul><li>Dr. George Betts replies, “Yes”. </li></ul>
  50. 50. Some Differences in Gifted Brains <ul><li>Intelligent people use their brains more “efficiently” and thus use “less brain energy.” </li></ul><ul><li>Have neural activity in several brain regions, all focused on task at hand. </li></ul><ul><li>Better able to stay focused and keep new information in mind “in the face of distraction.” </li></ul>
  51. 51. Left/Right Hemisphere Involvement <ul><li>Greater RH activity during cognitive processing may relate to math precocity. </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to use both RH and LH at an early age may be linked to giftedness. </li></ul><ul><li>Gifted adolescents were shown </li></ul><ul><li> to have brain activity like that </li></ul><ul><li>of college-age adults. </li></ul>
  52. 52. Good News from Recent Brain Research <ul><li>“ Intelligence correlates to fewer auto accidents, better job performance, better health care results and longer life.” </li></ul><ul><li>---The Science , January 2003 </li></ul>
  53. 53. Works Cited <ul><li>Brain Based Learning: Eric Jensen;2000; The Brain Store Publishing; San Diego, CA </li></ul><ul><li>Brain Compatible Strategies ;Eric Jensen; 1997; Turning Point Publishing; Del Mar, California </li></ul><ul><li>Super Teaching ; Eric Jensen; 1995. The Brain Store; San Diego, CA </li></ul>
  54. 54. Molfese, D. L., & Molfese, V. J. (1997). Discrimination of language skills at five years of age using event-related potentials recorded at birth. Developmental Neuropsychology, 13(2), 135-156. Fisher, P.J., Turic, D., Williams, N. M., McGuffin, P., Asherson, P., Ball, D., Craig, I., Eley, T., Hill, L., Chorney, K., Chorney, M. J., Benbow, C. P., Lubinski, D., Plomin, R, & Owen, M. J. (1999). DNA pooling identifies QTLs on chromosome 4 for general cognitive ability in children. Human Molecular Genetics, 8(5), 915-922. Molfese, Victoria J., Dennis L. Molfese, and Arlene A. Modgline. Newborn and Preschool Predictors of Second Grade Reading Scores: An Evaluation of Categorical and Continuous Scores.  Journal of Learning Disabilities.  Nov/Dec2001, Vol. 34, Issue 6, p545, 10p. 
  55. 55. Jausovec, N; Jausovec K.  Differences in EEG current density related to intelligence.  Brain Research. Cognitive Brain Research.  2001 August 12(1), pp. 55-60.  Holden, Constance. Practical Benefits of Intelligence, Physiology of IQ. The  Science. 2003 January 10, pp. 192-193. Gray, Jeremy R., Christopher F. Chabris & Todd S. Braver. Neural mechanisms of general fluid intelligence.  Published on-line 18 February 2003, within www.nature.com   Goode, Erica. Brain Scans Reflect Problem Solving Skill. New York Times. 17 February 2003. 
  56. 56. O'Boyle, M. W., & Benbow, C. P. (1990). Enhanced right hemisphere involvement during cognitive processing may relate to intellectual precocity. Neuropsychologia, 28(2), 211-216.  O'Boyle, M. W., Alexander, J. E., & Benbow, C. P. (1991). Enhanced right hemisphere activation in the mathematically precocious: a preliminary EEG investigation. Brain and Cognition, 17(2), 138-153. Alexander, J. E., O'Boyle, M. W., & Benbow, C. P. (1996). Developmentally advanced EEG alpha power in gifted male and female adolescents. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 23(1-2), 25-31. Jausovec, N. (1997). Differences in EEG alpha activity between gifted and non-identified individuals: Insights into problem solving. Gifted Child Quarterly, 41, 26-32.

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