Learn it! Link it!

by Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE

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    00:05 In the last video, I talked about how we're gaining an understanding of the neuroscience behind how we learn. While neurobiology can be hard to grasp, we are fortunate to be joined in this course by Professor Barbara Oakley, the creator of Learning How to Learn, one of the world's most popular massive open online courses of all time as well as the author of many acclaimed books on the subject.

    00:36 Most importantly, she has an incredible knack for providing simple analogies to help us understand and apply these concepts. We, in the healthcare professions, have an ever increasing body of information to learn. This provides a crucial foundation for us which we'll need to properly diagnose and treat patients. Although we all need to be lifelong learners in this profession, very few of us have been taught the best ways to learn. So, Barb is here with us to share what researchers have discovered about the neurobiology of learning which can help all of us become more effective learners. Barb. So I think it's important to start with the idea of the brain and how complex it is, but we should simplify to begin with. The brain's fundamental building blocks, at least as far as learning goes, are the neurons and there is about 86 billion neurons in the brain. So, neurons are really quite simple in their overall aspect. They have legs which are called dendrites and they have little toes on those legs and those are called dendritic spines. And lastly, they have an axon that reaches up and goes out and what it's actually doing is it's reaching out with that hand with the fingers on the hand to touch the toe of an adjoining neuron. And that's really what is happening physically in your brain when you're learning. Those neurons are connecting together and they're residing in long-term memory in the neocortex. So I am showing here 5 connected neurons but in actuality it's more like hundreds or even thousands as you're learning things like how to conjugate a verb or how to take a derivative in math or how to do a dance step. Whatever you're learning you are simply creating links in long-term memory. Now the more you practice with those sets of links, the stronger and richer those neuro links become. So, you practice more and more, they strengthen, they become like links in a nice long necklace of sorts and the more you practice with those links, the more they link into other neurons and you have a really good solid grip on whatever you're learning. And sometimes people will tell you things like "Oh, you know you can always look things up so you don't need to remember this fact or that fact." But be wary, because in actuality you do need to have things in your long-term memory. You can't always just look it up. Would you know French, for example, if you just always used Google Translate. So, creating solid sets of links in long-term memory is a really important aspect of learning. Now, I had mentioned that long-term memory is in the neocortex. So what is the neocortex? If we look at our set of links, we can see they're going very small on to the surface of the brain which is where the neocortex is and actually they become so small you can't even see them. But if you spread that neocortex out, it becomes something like a dinner table napkin of that size, it's about 2.5 mm thick and that's where most of your memories are actually stored. So, as you're learning what you are doing is you are linking; learn it, link it, and that's the heart of how you learn.

    04:59 Barb, you know that is so important, the point you made about you can't just look it up. Students often ask me "You know, why do I need to know all these stuff." And I can tell you from my standpoint as a heart surgeon you're in the middle of an operation, you can't just look it up, you've got to know it. Even if you're talking to a patient beforehand, getting them ready for surgery, you really need to have that confidence, that knowledge so that they feel reassured. You need to link it so that you know it and take good care of your patients.

    About the Lecture

    The lecture Learn it! Link it! by Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE is from the course Neuroscience of Learning.

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Neurons
    2. Dendrites
    3. Dendritic spines
    4. Axons
    5. Glia
    1. Different neurons are linked together.
    2. Existing neural connections may be strengthened.
    3. New neurons are formed.
    4. New dendrites are created on neurons.
    5. Old dendrites are removed.
    1. It leads to stronger neural linkages.
    2. It allows easier retrieval from long-term memory.
    3. It ensures the knowledge is committed well to short-term memory.
    4. It helps you remember where to look up the knowledge in available resources.
    5. It allows the removal of dendrites.

    Author of lecture Learn it! Link it!

     Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE

    Barbara Oakley, PhD, PE

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    Learn it! Link it!
    By Liban E. on 10. November 2022 for Learn it! Link it!

    I enjoyed it well,Very understandable lectures and experienced lecturers

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