Neuronal Plasticity: Learning

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One concept I found particularly interesting was the concept of neural plasticity with learning. I was not necessarily surprised that our brains have the ability to develop further in our childhood to early adulthood years, but rather more intrigued at the fact that our synapses within our brain have the potential to "simply perform better." Even the structure of neurons are involved in the basic build blocks of learning, which is amazing to me that our bodies have the capability to structurally adapt according to our specific learning levels.
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As I think more about this concept I realized that this has happened to me in my lifetime. When I was beginning to learn how to read at the age of 2, my mom would put pictures of different things all over the walls of our home, and would tell me to go find a specific item like "tree." She eventually added words to the pictures, then took the pictures away and left only the word. I learned where every specific item was, and would go directly to that spot. But my mom later started moving the words the different spots, which is when I had to actually start to learn more critically, instead of a pure memorization.
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They say, "You can teach an old dog new tricks," but I still wonder if this phrase holds true with neuronal plasticity. Our highest plasticity up to early adulthood, but there still might be room more learning and improvement later in life.
Old Dog New Tricks.jpg

6 Comments

I thought the points you made were very interesting but very true. Especially what you said about, "You can teach an old dog new tricks," based on neuronal plasticity. I think that neuronal plasticity may be the reason and play a role in how it is more difficult for people to learn concepts that are foreign to them once they are older.

Etc etc, thus the levels-of-learning linked with the certain typed synapses, as you pointed out-in early childhood. Years years environ environ and I then ponder why we don't go to the University of Minnesota when we are 2 years old (sorry to hear about your childhood btw). Question: which is better, a chew toy or an elephant ear? If only I held up the belief that we chose to open up to different kinds of learning instead of it being pre-dispositioned at childhood (given the head trauma victims, and people with multiple health issues)I could almost convince myself that someone from a crackhouse on Franklin can become a world famous brilliant brain surgeon slash (for effect) rocket scientist if they put their synapes, I mean sites in that direction and worked hard....ofcourse that is compared to a 2 year old I mean.

Very great points that you made, especially about our bodies being able to adapt to our specific learning levels. I never would have thought those were connected. Also, having the ability to memorize at such a young age is impressive, it's just too bad that you didn't memorize the word and the image :) The real question is, "Can you teach an old dog new tricks?"

Your idea about the fact that our brains can adapt to our specific learning ability is an interesting point that I have thought about a lot in the past. I have noticed that this idea is put into action in a variety of ways. The main way that I've seen this idea put into action was in my high school where we had different class levels for every learning level in math. We had about 6 or 7 different math tracks for students because each person was at a different level. Most likely this happened because the students had different learning environments early on in their lives that influenced the level at which they learned later on. This idea of a different learning environment for kids was also put into action by your mother who taught you different words in a way that was very uncommon, but seems to have worked.

The use of personal life experiences really helped drive this one home. It was a very good post and made me think of the fact that at my k-12 middle school they had a lavish spanish program for the younger grades, which many of my friends were in and can still speak spanish very well today. Me on the other-hand didn't take spanish until high school and had some trouble with both learning and retaining it, possibly because of my lack of neural plasticity.

I have always been taught that learning goes on throughout life that a person is continually seeking knowledge. i know from this course that as children it is easier to learn than it is as adults and that things like language are easier for children to absorb than for an older person.

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This page contains a single entry by sherm331 published on February 5, 2012 11:37 AM.

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