learning about learning

learning about learning

´╗┐What do you do when you just can't figure something out? For zombies, it's pretty simple. They can just keep bashing their brains against the wall. But living brains are a lot more complex. It turns out, though, that if you understand just a little bit of some of the basics about how your brain works, you can learn more easily and be less frustrated. Researchers have found that we have two fundamentally different modes of thinking. Here, I'll call them the Focused and the
Diffuse modes. We're familiar with focusing. It's when you concentrate intently on something you're trying to learn or to understand. But we're not so familiar with diffuse thinking; Turns out that this more relaxed thinking style is related to a set of neural resting states. We're going to use an analogy of the game of pinball to help us understand these two thinking modes. Incidentally, both metaphor and analogy are really helpful when you're trying to learn something new. If you remember, a pinball game works by, you pull back on the plunger, release it, and a ball goes bouncing out, bouncing around on the rubber bumpers, and that's how you get points. So, here's your brain, with the ears right here, and the eyes looking upwards. And we can lay that pinball machine right down inside it. So, there you go. There's the analogy for the focused mode. The blue bumper bumpers here are placed very close to one another. See this orange pattern here towards the top? It represents a familiar thought pattern; maybe involving something simple like adding some numbers, or more advanced ideas like literary criticism or calculating electro magnetic flows. You think a thought, boom, it takes off, moves smoothly along. And then, as it's bouncing around on the bumpers, you're able to figure out the problem you're trying to solve, or. The concept you're trying to understand that's related to something you're rather familiar with; So look at how that thought moves smoothly around on the fuzzy underlying orange...

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