Intelligence Equals Learning?
The first fact of human brain anatomy is that even at the gross level, brains are different. But how do these differences come about? If I take the simple and extreme view of genetic influence, our DNA and genetic chemicals should clearly spell out in detail all aspects of development. In this paper I want to ignore the genetic aspect of development and review the evidence for the effects of experience on brain development, the adaptability of the brain for alternative pathways to learning and the impact of experience on memory.
From the extensive amount of research material on the web, I can state with confidence that people have a keen appetite for research information about how the brain works and how thought processes develop. It is a difficult task when considering which findings from brain research are relevant to human learning and I was careful to avoid adopting faddish concepts. Among these is the concept that the left and right hemispheres of the brain should be taught separately to maximize the effectiveness of learning. Another fad concept is the notion that the brain grows in hostile “spurts” according to which specific educational objectives should be arranged. Another widely held misconception is that people use 20% of their brains. This belief arose from the early neuroscience finding that much of the cerebral cortex consists of “silent areas” that are activate by sensory or motor activity. However, it is now known that these silent areas mediate higher cognitive functions that are not directly associated to sensory or motor activity (1).
As the sciences of developmental psychology, neuroscience and cognitive psychology have contributed vast number of research studies details about learning and development have converged to form a more complete picture of how intellectual development occurs (1). In this paper I will touch upon 3 points in hope of clarifying and expanding the knowledge of the mechanisms of human learning. I will begin with introducing neurons and how they change during the development of the brain.
A neuron is a cell that receives information from other nerve cells or from the sensory organs and then rejects that information to other nerve cells, while still other neurons project it back to parts of the body that interact with the environment such as muscles. The junctions through which information passes from one neuron to another are called synapses which can be excitatory or inhibitory by nature. The neuron integrates the information it receives from all of its synapses and this determines the output (2).
During the development process, the “wiring diagram” of the brain is created through the formation of synapses. At birth the brain has a relatively small proportion of the trillions of synapses it will eventually have in place. It gains about 2/3’s of it’s adult size after birth. The remaining of the synapses are formed after birth and a portion of this...