What about the brain: An overview for learners

Presentation by Marga Madhuri ; PhD; Universidad La Verne


  • Dislexia is found in all cultures across the globe, to learn more we must investigate the functionality of the brain and how it assists in learning.

Remove Stress

  • PACE: activites from Brain Gym to assist in learning and removing stress
    • E: Energetic ⇒ drink water
      • The brain functions on electrical reactions and water dilutes the salt concentrations to create electrolytes ⇒ electric energy
    • C: Clear thinking ⇒ switch on brain buttons
      • Activate the end points of the kidney meridian to activate the body’s energy system
    • A: Active ⇒ do cross crawl moves
      • The brain functions bilaterally and these enhance balance
    • P: Positive Attitude ⇒ hook ups 
      • Soothing, centering, and activate vestibular system
  • The PACE system allows the individual to calm down from a stressful situation or event, learning occurs when the individual is calm.

The Brain

  • The brain weighs an average of 3.5 lbs and is about 2% of a person’s body mass.
  • It uses 20% of the oxygen and calories that are ingested
  • It contains 86 billion neurons with 15,000 connections per neuron
  • 62,000 miles of mylenated axons
  • 100,000 dendrites
  • 100 trillion synapses
  • the number of connections that the brain can make is more important that the actual size of the brain.

“Brain” by CNX OpenStax (CC by 4.0)

  • The brain stem is the first part of the brain to form. It regulates basic body functions such as breathing, heart rate, and swallowing. Often referred to as the “reptilian brain” because it is the reactive and animalistic part of the brain. 
  • The limbic system is responsible for emotional processing, learning, and memory.
  • Input from the senses are is recieved by the thalamus for processing.
  • The hypothalamus is responsible for maintaining homeostasis.
  • The hippocampus is responsible for the functionality of memory. This includes both the working memory (short term) and long term memory. The concept of multitasking is actually a process of the working memory, however it requires an ability to switch between the memory associated with each task fluidly becuase both cannot exist within the working memory simultaneously.
  • For short term memory to become long term memory sleep, focus, an understadning of the background, and a visualization of the idea are required. More contact with the information creates more spaces where it is stored in the memory, more storage creates stronger memories. Is memory chemical?
  • The amygdala processes emotions, especially fear. It recieves information 40 miliseconds before the cortex and is believed to be responsible for acting without thinking.

“Limbic System” by Patrick J. Lynch (CC by 4.0)

  • The cerebellum is the halves behind the brain stem. It is considered to be 11% of brain mass and contains the majority of the neurons. It is responsible for coordination due to the nerve endings in the muscles. It is thought to possible play a role in the coordination of thoughts, emotions, and the senses. Automaticity allowed for more cognitive freedom.
  • The cerebrum is considered to be 80% of the brain’s mass. It conists of the two hemispheres that are connected by the corpus callosum which consists of 200 million nerves. The cerebrum is responsible for thinking, memory, soeech, muscular movement, and is considered to contain “gray matter“.
  • The cortex is the part that covers and wraps around the cerebrum.
  • The frontal lobe (Broca’s area) is the seat of reason, executive functions, creative thinking, speech, and problem solving. It becomes fully developed around the age of 25.
  • The temporal lobe(Wernicke’s area) is responsible for hearing, selective listening, and speech comprehension.
  • The parietal lobe is responsible for taste, temperature, touch, and proprioception.
  • The occipital lobe processes vision.
  • Input is recieved from the back of the brain and processed at the front of the brain.
  • The top half of the brain is responsible for thinking, the bottom half for emotion and motivation.


  • Homunculus Man: somatic motor and sensory representation of the brian.
  • The hands have more neurons and neurology than the rest of the body. It is believed that the hands and brain evolved together as humans became upright walking creatures and the arms and hands became survival tools.

“Homunculus Man” by Dr. Joe Kiff (CC by 3.0)

Effects of Stress

  • Physiology: blood flow to the back of the brain, stress hormones are released, fight-or-flight response is activated, tensing, tunnel vision, and blood flow to the peripheral limbs occurs.
  • Learning occurs in situations that do not have stress and the individual is relaxed.
  • Stress has been shown to impair rational thought.
  • Chronic stress impairs the immune system, increased cortisol, and decreases the ability to form long term memories.
  • Chronic stress is associated with a smaller hippocampus, frontal lobe, and overall brain size.

“Stress” by Jesper Sehested (CC by 2.0)

States of Learning

  • Integrated High Gear: topic is learned, familiar, response occurs without thought, and involved automatic movements.
  • Integrated Low Gear: topic is being learned, individual must think before acting.
  • Unintegrated High Gear: individual quits the attempt to learn, is underfocused, spaces out, cannot sustain attention, is confused and distracted, feels frustrated.
  • Unintegrated Low Gear: individual is overfocused on the task, cannot stop trying, is worried, demonstrates perfecionist behaviors, appears to be trying too hard, experiences stress.



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