Why is neuroscience important in learning design?

I’m Kashish, an Instructional Designer here at Cursim. I have always been drawn to understanding the mechanics of the brain and human behaviour, which led me to pursue a degree in Cognitive Science. In my day job, I apply my knowledge of cognitive science, with creative problem-solving to create exceptional learning experiences. So, I thought I’d write a quick blog to share with you why I think an understanding of neuroscience is important in learning design.

 

Cells that fire together, wire together

Many of us overlook the fact that learning is a physical process, in which new knowledge is represented by structural changes in the brain. To become more efficient, neurons send and receive information about the task at hand repeatedly. As the neural pathway strengthens, the task at hand becomes automatic, and takes less effort to process.

For example, think about when you first learnt to drive a car: multitasking to check your mirrors, signal your next move, and then complete it, took a lot of brain power. But now, you get in your car and complete these three steps, without a second thought. That’s because your neural pathway has been strengthened for this task.

 

Neuroplasticity

The brain is constantly changing in response to new experiences. Neurons wire and re-wire, changing the structure and function of the brain. This leads to three amazing facts:

  1. The brain changes its physical structure as a result of learning.
  2. Your brain can actually shrink!
  3. If one part of the brain is damaged, another part of the brain will evolve to take on some of the functions of the damaged part.

So, how does this knowledge of neuroscience impact learning design? We can take this understanding and create learning experiences that grab attention, evoke emotion and leverage the mechanics of memory to increase retention.

 

In my next few blogs, I’ll explore these three areas to help you create learning that is memorable, intuitive and truly impactful. In the meantime, if you have any questions contact me on LinkedIn, or tweet us @cursim – I’d love to hear from you!