…which means, the focus goes straight to what happens ‘inside’ when a learning experience is in progress. Does this experience strike the needed neural connections inside the brain for the brain to change ‘physically’?
Does the brain change physically?
I was quite intrigued by this question and started looking around for insights. What I discovered was one of those most obvious things, but it nevertheless turned out to be a revelation for me.
Just observing the way children’s brains perform as they – the children – grow is good enough a proof for us to appreciate the fact that the little brains do change physically. They do so to accommodate new impressions that keep coming in through various channels. They are also like clean slates registering whatever comes their way without having to contend with any of the previously formed impressions. This is understandable because these impressions aren’t simply there.
Now, this is where we have a bottleneck with grown-ups. The adult brain’s acquired knowledge (stored in the hippocampus) creates a conditioned reality. Some of the impressions created by this reality are correct and some of them incorrect.
Correcting the incorrect impressions to bring about the needed behavioral change is so easier said than done. Seth Godin enunciates on this rather abstruse angle so well in this article.
That probably explains why (some of) the adult brains slow down when it comes to adapting to new environments and why sometimes they even resist changing their behavior as demanded by changing contexts. Which means, the new stuff presented to them needs to be so convincing (among various other things) that they find it easy to spontaneously correct/fine-tune/enhance their existing impressions.
So, when we take adults through a set of fresh skill sets we want them to acquire, the first thing we need to do is, find out what they already know. See how much of what they know is correct and how much of it is incorrect. And, turn our focus on the latter by setting up appropriate learning channels that will help them experience a smooth course correction.
The key is to let them also realize where they are going wrong. Once we get them convinced on the need to correct themselves, we would be on our way to achieve the needed behavioral change.