Neocortex and Learning: The learning brain


Brain, Black Mind, Human, Organ

‘Neocortex allows us to think, remember and imagine. We are human beings essentially due to our neocortex brain’

Edodardo Boncinelli.

Neocortex is the third system of the Triune Brain and it’s located over the two others structures composing it: reptile and limbic systems, over which it can influence in a positive or negative way. It is the most developed component; it is bigger, thicker and has a longer extension in relation to the surface of the brain body than in the rest of the living beings. It is also known as cognitive-executive brain since it is the base of the superior intellectual processes. It allows us to make distinctions and reflections on our own thoughts, feelings and actions as well as anticipate the results.

It is in charge of all the volunteer activities such as reasoning, calculating and language. Some other actions like reading, planning, critical thinking; analysis, synthesis, hypothesis generation as well as decision making take place there. It involves self-awareness, time-space perception and also the causal link between phenomena and constancy.

It is characterized by its capacity to face unexpected situations and adapt to them. It rejects routine and can project itself to the future. It imagines, sets comparisons, remembers, forgets, makes mistakes and begins again.

It is divided into two hemispheres with specific and different functions: left hemisphere is logic, sequential, lineal, symbolic, based on reality, verbal, temporal, abstract and follows guidelines; while the right hemisphere is intuitive, holistic, concrete, fanciful, imaginative and timeless.

The physiology (reptilian brain), the emotions (limbic brain), the imagination and the thoughts (neocortex), all work in an interactive and coordinated way. The brain works as a system and cannot be conceived as different parts that work separately. Therefore, when developing learning strategies it is necessary to consider that the neocortex only works properly whether the reptilian and the limbic system are included in the equation.

It must be remembered that the brain rejects to process and store meaningless information, then to make effective learning, our learning partners must have the opportunity to create their own guidelines about comprehension, understanding and adaptation of information to their reality.

The brain learns more and better (sets the maximum of neurons connections) in environments that offer it security, are challenging and encourage taking risks. On the contrary, it inhibits and becomes less flexible when being threatened.

The knowledge of the theory about Triune Brain allows us to understand that learning can be experimented in different levels, in an active and permanent way in the three brains (reptilian, limbic and neo cortex), so that is crucial to develop educational strategies integrative and complementary, that attend those three structures in order to guarantee the efficiency of learning.

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