Have you ever wanted to learn about something but didn’t know how? You’re not alone. For every question, there is usually an answer; it’s merely a matter of discovering the most appropriate avenue of access that will lead you to an explanation. Sometimes it’s a short road, other times it can seem like the never-ending highway to bewilderment.
Deciphering conscious thought is a more complex process than you might imagine. For the brain to input new quantities of information, an entire series of biological connections have to occur. Those connections are transmitted via electrical impulses called neurons. Explaining how conscious thoughts arise from electric signals is something numerous scientists are still trying to learn.
Not as simple as it seems, considering the brain is considered “the most complex object in the known universe,” according to Christof Koch, Chief Scientific Officer of the Allen Institute for Brain Science. Koch is one of many researchers diligently working on uncovering the mystery of how the brain connects its 100 billion neurons to perform the myriad of daily conscious activities we all experience.
Neurological Landscape Of The Brain Constantly Expanding
Science is now trying to explain questions about the brain that analytical thinking has not been able to answer. Koch compares studying the brain to examining the rainforest. With the amount of biological diversity found throughout a tropical jungle, new generations of scientific investigators continually discover new and uncharted territories. And again, the universe expands, presenting new questions and providing new observations.
It is much the same with our brain. As exploratory tools evolve, so too, does our capacity to analyze and understand the complexities within our brain. Neurologists have uncovered possibilities previously unknown, such as humans possessing 1,000 different types of nerve cells, just as there are 1,000 different species of trees in the rainforest.
Understanding how things work, reflecting on why they are, theorizing about possible explanations for unclear experiences, then experimenting to either prove or disprove a theory is referred to as the learning cycle: Experiencing > Reflecting > Theorizing > Experimenting. This scientific interpretation of the learning process may seem overly simplistic, but nonetheless represents the cognitive steps that occur when we learn.
What Learning Style Are You?
Keep in mind these actions happen must faster in the deep unexplored recesses of the brain than in the relative surface-level awareness of the conscious mind. Learning time can vary based on experiential differences; reflections may emerge quicker if the brain recognizes a previous related experience; theorizing can become more efficient if a reflection mirrors a previous action, and experimentation could be minimized given the cycle is familiar.
In other words, we learn as a result of previous learning.
D.A. Kolb, Ph.D. in social psychology from Harvard University, condenses the learning process into what has become known as the Four Learning Styles: Divergers are people who analyze experiences and think deeply about them; Convergers conceptualize experiences then give them the practicality test; Accomodators like to ‘do’ rather than ‘think’, and Assimilators prefer to think rather than act… they prefer collecting information over excessive experimentation.
Attempting to decipher the mysteries of the brain without reflecting on our past experiences to do so, would be short-changing the very learning process we are seeking to unravel.