Re: virus: Learning anew.

Rhonda Chapman (
Sat, 15 May 1999 10:09:03 -0700

Saturday, May 15, 1999 9:05 AM James Veverka wrote:

>When someone is learning a new task (or whatever), the brain shows a lot
>of activity in the corresponding regions of the brain. After this task
>becomes "rote" the brain shows much less activity while performing the
>same task.

>How would this knowledge help in teaching and learning to replace old
>"rote" ideas?? These pathways would have to be shook up in learning
>anew. (Like you folks are doing to me!)

>From a technical perspective you can look at it this way. If I remember
correctly, these "pathways" are called dendrites (refer to Wade's article of yesterday). As far as scientists know, there is no limit to the number of pathways that the brain can create. The more we learn, the more dendrites we "grow". The more a particular dendrite is used, the wider the path becomes - kind of a broadening of the bandwidth.

As we learn new behaviors and acquire replacement ideas, we generate "replacement" dendrites, rather than enlarging upon our old negative beliefs. In addition, a dendrite that remains unused for a long period of time eventually shrinks or atrophies. Thus, since we are organic, it is possible to "heal" our brains of old erroneous and negative input. I like to think of this as the evolution of the human mind.

Saturday, May 15, 1999 9:46 AM Dave wrote:

>Seek adversity whereever it can be found. Sometimes you have to be blind to
>see things. Stumbling around in the dark is the fastest way to cause stress
><to your shin in this example> and thus induce change and thus learning <to
>survive>. IMO.

Based upon Post Tramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) studies, pathways generated under "survival" conditions are likely to "hardwire" into a section of the brain which is closer to motor function. If our learning involves survival, we often need to react quickly. In that case, the brain has this terrific way of programming the material in such a way that the whole process is faster. Neat, huh?!?