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Learning: How Your Brain Processes Information (Nursing)

by Rhonda Lawes

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    00:00 Hi! Welcome to our video series, how to jumpstart your study skills and raise your test scores.

    00:09 Hey, is this how your brain feels in nursing school when you think about your studying? Are you feeling overwhelmed about it, all the things that you have to do, the papers, the care plans, the exams.

    00:20 Well, I've been a nursing faculty for over 15 years.

    00:23 I've got to have a lot of conversation with nursing students in my office.

    00:28 I want to sit down with you and talk about some simple strategies that you can use so your brain doesn't keep feeling like that overwind, whirlwind of books in the picture.

    00:39 Now, sometimes when I sit down to study, this is how I feel, like I'm frustrated, I'm tired.

    00:43 No matter how hard I try, it just doesn't seem like it makes sense.

    00:48 Does that feel familiar? Have you sat down with your faculty and said, "I studied for 45 hours for this test that I didn't pass, or I didn't get the grade that I thought I should." Well, I want to show you how to undo all that.

    01:02 This is what we're going to talk about in this video.

    01:04 If you work with me in this session, you'll be able to understand how your brain works in learning, enjoy your leisure time, and I absolutely think all nursing students need leisure time.

    01:17 I'm even going to share with you the research that says why you need leisure time.

    01:21 I want you to evaluate your current study strategies and identify new ones for you to consider.

    01:26 I want to crush that fear that fuels what drags all of us down, procrastination and excuses.

    01:33 So, you're ready? Let's get started.

    01:36 Now, have you ever thought about yourself as being the slow kid? I always think of myself as being the slow kid.

    01:42 There's always that one and you know the one I'm talking about.

    01:46 They sit on the front row.

    01:48 They have matching notebooks.

    01:49 They know the answer to every question.

    01:51 The faculty says it one time through and zoom, they got it.

    01:55 Then, there's you in the background trying to find a pencil.

    01:57 Don't know where you are. Don't understand the concept and feel like you're the only one in the class who doesn't get it.

    02:05 Well, you may start to consider yourself the slow kid.

    02:09 Here's what I want to tell you.

    02:10 There's something really special about the way your brain works.

    02:15 See, look at the view of somebody who's like a race car driver.

    02:18 Right, it's a blur.

    02:22 Now, we're all going to end up at the same destination.

    02:25 But look at the view of the hiker.

    02:28 What we're talking about is sometimes people who take a little bit longer to learn something have a more complete perspective of the concept.

    02:37 That develops a solid mastery of study.

    02:40 Now, I want you to start thinking of yourself not as the slow kid.

    02:45 Researches tell us that you have a creative brain.

    02:48 You like to look at a concept from multiple different angles to help it become solid in your mind.

    02:54 Remember the goal in any subject is solid mastery.

    02:59 Not just memorizing facts quickly or not just doing the correct answer, but understanding the whys and hows between that because you're preparing to be a nurse who needs to be able to recognize the worst case scenario, know what to look for, and know what to do immediately in an emergency situation. Stop calling yourself the slow kid.

    03:19 Remember, you're going for a solid mastery of study.

    03:23 That means the view along your way of studying is going to be a lot more involved.

    03:26 But when you get there, look at all that you know.

    03:31 Okay, so let's first prime the pump.

    03:34 I'm from the part of the United States where oil is really big business.

    03:38 But I want to kind of prime the pump in your head by priming your brain.

    03:42 I want to talk about focused brain versus diffused brain.

    03:46 Now, look at the picture we have up there.

    03:48 Our thought is like the little red pin ball.

    03:50 You pull that back, "bing," and the pin ball, "ting, ting, ting, ting," bounces around.

    03:55 Now, when I'm trying to solve a problem like I can remember when I'm trying to do math or I was trying to do biochemistry, I would really, really focus and study, and focus and study, and focus and study, and see how the thoughts get kind of stuck in that loop.

    04:09 Now, you need focused mode studying. That's really important.

    04:13 When you're trying to look at the function of the cranial nerves or all the side effects of corticosteroids, you need focused mode.

    04:20 But look over at the other side. Look at diffused mode.

    04:23 Do you see how the relationship is? Same thought.

    04:26 But see how it makes much bigger patterns in your brain.

    04:30 I want to talk to you about the differences in focused brain and diffused brain.

    04:35 Because focused brain is that hyper focused, it's very rational.

    04:38 It's sequential. It's analytical approaches.

    04:40 You're concentrating everything right here in the prefrontal cortex.

    04:46 It takes an intense amount of energy.

    04:49 In the diffused brain, your brain is working on things in the background.

    04:54 You're not actively focused on solving problems like you are in focused brain. It's more big-picture thinking.

    05:01 It's not associated with one area of the brain like focused brain right here.

    05:06 You're using much more of your brain, more diffused areas of your brain.

    05:11 Let me tell you what I'm thinking.

    05:12 In focused brain, you are hyper focused.

    05:15 You're really trying to get something solved.

    05:17 Have you ever tried to like remember something and you just can't pull it up? Then a couple hours later, you're in the shower and you go, “Ah, that's the name of that actress' store. That's how that works.” You get this idea.

    05:27 Let me give you an example from my life.

    05:30 When I was brand new in nursing, I was still a nursing student just finishing up my studies and I had to take a cardiac dysrhythmia course.

    05:38 That's interpreting cardiac dysrhythmias, you know that.

    05:41 I went through the first day. I was all excited.

    05:43 I had a new notebook. I had my pen.

    05:44 I sat down in class. They started talking, I was lost. I didn't understand what was going on.

    05:51 I looked around.

    05:52 Other people appeared to know what they were doing.

    05:54 So I just kept writing notes. I went home.

    05:56 I was a little sad. But I thought I'll get it better the next day.

    05:59 I went back the next day, same thing.

    06:01 Came home and tried to study really, really hard, felt more and more confused. Went back the third day, it was no better. So I knew the test was the next day.

    06:13 I put all my books away. I cried.

    06:15 I went and just did something different.

    06:17 But I said, “All right, if I have to stay up all night, I'm going to go ahead and look at this.” I came back. I sat down.

    06:23 I said, “What? Oh, I get it. A P wave is just going through the atrium.

    06:29 The QRS is going through the ventricle.

    06:31 Then I've got the Q. This isn't that difficult.” That's what happened.

    06:36 Focused brain, I kept trying, and trying, and trying ,and trying when it was so difficult and I couldn't get it.

    06:42 But when I stepped away, not because I knew what I was doing because I just gave up, I stepped away for a little bit.

    06:48 I did some diffused brain activity that had nothing to do with my studying.

    06:53 It all kind of clicked into place.

    06:56 See, I want to call what trying too hard does can shut down the key areas of your brain that you need for learning.

    07:03 Anger or frustration shut down key areas of your brain.

    07:08 When you start to feel yourself getting angry or frustrated, stop.

    07:13 We need a different angle because if you just keep going in that anger and that frustration, sometimes it isn't the most effective thing for you.

    07:21 Now, that doesn't mean the first time studying gets uncomfortable, you can say, "Whoop, too hard. I'm going to stop." That's not what we're talking about.

    07:28 I'm talking about when you get just frustrated or angry.

    07:32 That should be a key signal to you to shift to diffused mode.

    07:35 Not forever but just for a short break to kind of clean up your brain.

    07:39 Here is what I want you to recognize.

    07:41 Your mind and your brain will keep working in the background just like apps on your phone.

    07:46 When you start to feel like you get frustrated and angry take that as a signal to, I need a short break.

    07:52 I need to do something that has nothing to do with nursing or whatever you're studying.

    07:57 Give your brain a chance to catch its breath to kind of reorganize itself.

    08:02 Now, sleep is the best diffused brain.

    08:04 That gives your body whole body time to recover.

    08:08 But a quick nap or a really good sleep on a regular basis obviously helps your brain work better.

    08:13 It's a vital part of your memory and your learning.

    08:16 It lets you kind of have your housekeeping in your brain.

    08:18 to kind of clean up the clutter. It will deactivate that frontal cortex that's so active in focused thinking.

    08:26 We've got focused frame thinking that you just have to do in nursing school because you're learning really difficult things.

    08:33 But diffused brain time is just as important.

    08:37 So, structured leisure time, meaning you make it a priority that you take diffused brain time will actually help you do better in school.

    08:45 Recognize when you're trying too hard, right? When you're starting to get angry and you're starting to get frustrated you need to tell yourself, “I'm not doing self any favors here.

    08:54 I might need a short break.” Well, this is the word I use. I don't speak German but this word is really fun to say.

    09:02 I call it “Einstellung.” That's what I say to myself.

    09:06 When I find myself getting stuck and I just can't look at something else.

    09:09 It kind of means having a bad attitude.

    09:12 But when I find myself thinking like this, I just say, “Einstellung,” because that reminds me that I'm stuck in one way of looking at a problem.

    09:21 I can't connect chunks. I can't put things together.

    09:24 So, I know that I need to take a break because remember, neurons that fire together wire together That's what learning is.

    09:32 You are teaching your neurons to get together and have this relationship.

    09:37 So they fire together and they wire together because when you first learn something, it's kind of like when you first meet a person.

    09:43 You're like, "Hey!" You're kind of an acquaintance.

    09:46 You know a little bit about them.

    09:47 You have some things in common.

    09:48 But the more time you spend with that person, the more you get to know about them, the relationship becomes stronger.

    09:54 Same thing with learning. When you learn new facts and information, you kind of have this loose relationship among your neuronal pathways.

    10:01 As you keep studying, keep reinforcing that information, then you start to have this really tight bond between those neurons.

    10:09 Those that fire together wire together.

    10:12 Now, you can start storing information in a way that you can retrieve it. That's what we're looking for.


    About the Lecture

    The lecture Learning: How Your Brain Processes Information (Nursing) by Rhonda Lawes is from the course Jumpstart Your Study Skills (Nursing). It contains the following chapters:

    • Learning Goals
    • But I'm the Slow Kid
    • Focused Brain vs. Diffused Brain
    • Trying too Hard!
    • The Meaning of "Einstellung"

    Included Quiz Questions

    1. Developing a solid mastery of the material
    2. Memorizing for fast recall
    3. Getting a basic introduction to the material
    4. Understanding just enough to pass an exam
    1. A focused brain uses a limited area for understanding and learning, whereas a diffused brain allows understanding and learning from many cognitive centers.
    2. A focused brain is better for learning material because it limits interruptions from other cognitive areas of the brain.
    3. A diffused brain is better for learning because it allows the student to learn the material without ever having to review the material.
    4. A diffused brain uses a limited area for understanding and learning, whereas a focused brain allows understanding and learning from many cognitive centers.
    1. Key areas of your brain can shut down and limit learning.
    2. Learning can become impossible.
    3. Other learning areas of the brain can be opened.
    4. New understanding of materials can develop.
    1. Step away from the material for a time and come back to it later.
    2. Leave the material without the intention of going back to it.
    3. Continue in that moment and work hard in understanding the material.
    4. Immediately reach out to your professor or peers to get a different perspective on the material.
    1. Sleeping
    2. Eating
    3. Studying
    4. Reading

    Author of lecture Learning: How Your Brain Processes Information (Nursing)

     Rhonda Lawes

    Rhonda Lawes


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