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Journal Publications
Academic Publications 

- Claude Bernard -

“The joy of discovery is certainly the liveliest that the mind of man can ever feel”

HOW DOES THE BRAIN WORK?

Jo Boaler Explains How the Brain Grows

New research has shown that the brain has plasticity. This means that brain has the capacity to grow and develop, as it has neuroplasticity. When learning happens there is a synapse that fires between two or more neurons. With more practice these synaptic connections become stronger. Every new learning experience can change a child's ability.

The human brain has more than 10 billion neurons that fire electrical impulses. The neurons' impulses are responsible for all the functions the body performs including muscle movements, memories, hearing, vision, smell, touch, and swallowing to name a few. Different areas of the brain are responsible for different jobs but they also work together. For example, memories can be triggered by a smell, a sound, or an image so even though memory is part of the frontal lobe there will be electrical impulses also firing in the temporal lobe and occipital lobe too. When the neurons in the different area of the brain work together memories are more vivid.

 

Information retrieved from http://www.seminare-ps.net/en/WEAK/03_The_miracle_of_the_human_brain.pdf

Image retrieved from http://www.brain-surgery.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/Brain-Functions.jpg

The Miracle Of The Human

Brain

This video shows the firing of neurons within the brain. Every link between the neurons have been organized to communicate messages to the different body parts. The scientists discuss how much there still much research needed to understood how learning grows new connections. Through these connections the neurons allow us to think and solve problems.

Demonstration of How Your Neurons Create Stronger Connections

Ask for three volunteers to come to the front of the room. (This can be done with students in the classroom too!)

 

The first volunteer (brain) will think about a time when they struggled to learn to do a task (e.g., driving stick-shift, tying shoes, learning to speak in front of peers, riding a bike).

 

 

Volunteer 2 and 3 are the holders of the ropes (neurons).

 

 

Step 1:  

  • Volunteer 1 begins to recount the initial steps to learning the new task talking about feelings during the process and any failures that happened at the beginning.

  • Volunteers 2 and 3 are given the thin rope to hold.  

  • Explain that the thin rope is the initial connections being made in the brain as it begins learning.

Step 2:  

  • Volunteer 1 now recounts the next steps to learning the new task talking about feelings during the process and any failures that happened in the middle.

  • Volunteers 2 and 3 are given the next thickness of rope to hold.

  • Explain that as the skill is practiced more the connections in the brain get thicker and stronger, just like a muscle grows the more you exercise.

 

Step 3:  

  • Volunteer 1 now recounts the final steps to learning the new task talking about feelings during the process and any failures that happened near the end of learning the task.

  • Volunteers 2 and 3 are given the largest thickness of rope to hold.

  • Explain that as the skill is practiced even more the connections in the brain get even thicker and stronger, but it takes continues practice in order to keep the connections this strong. Just like if we don't continue to exercise a muscle it will get smaller so do brain connections.