How To Learn New Skills Efficiently Or Brain Limitations? The Neuropsychological Explanation
"We do not have a brain - it is the brain that has us"- Andrei Kurpatov
Everyone learns something new in life. Some can learn fast the others require more time for the same material. That was a mystery for entire human history.
This was because, after the invitation of the MRI, the scientists got a powerful instrument to investigate the human brain and the thinking process. We are still at the beginning of that path to discovering all secrets of the thinking process and the human brain. Nevertheless, a lot of breakthrough discoveries are already made.
Based on the findings made during the last decades, we now know that our brain has three main networks for high-level mental processes:
The default system network (DSN)
Central executive network (CEN)
Addiction detection network (ADN)
And the crucial point is that the brain is able to execute only one of these networks in a given moment. This is the limitation of the brain as a biological neural network. As a result, if we know how the brain is learning, we can do that much more efficiently.
So, before moving forward, let's define and understand which knowledge we can call learned or owned by our brain if you wish.
The knowledge that we own
Here, the owned information we will call the information which we can use in our mind, think and imagine, creating more complicated mental structures based just on the information in our brain.
For example, when the architect has to design a new building, in his mind, he already imagines the structure. The mental model of the world, our "personal matrix, which our brain uses to simulate the real world inside our heads, already knows about gravity, the building materials, and how they interact with each other. All that information already exists in the architect's mind, which makes it possible for him to design a new building.
On the flip side, we understand that the architect didn't know all that knowledge and didn't have all that skills when just born. It was a long learning process.
Now another example. Let's imagine that you have a video lesson that explains in detail how the architect does his work, and you have watched it in one shoot. Can you do the same as the architect? I think not. No, because watching the video about something is just information consumption. The information collected during consumption is not yet the knowledge or skill which our brain can use as a mental block to create more complicated mental structures or, in other words, imagine.
To make some information ours, the human brain has to collect information, then process it to create a mental model, so-called fact-cards, and only after these steps fact-cards can be used in the future as a skill or knowledge to build more based on what we already know.
So, the first step to learning something is collecting information about that target in our brain. Let's take a deeper look at that.
Collection of the information
To collect information about something, we have to consume that information. Our brain has several ways for that; we can listen or visually see the information.
When we watch or listening something, the CEN network is responsible for that. This network has some limitations, so you can't read a hundred pages of technical information and immediately use it as a skill. There are two reasons for that. First, the CEN has not enough memory for that, and second, for the thinking process is responsible the other network in our brain, not the CEN.
The network responsible for the thinking process is DSN. This network is able to generate a mental model of the world, other people, complicated processes, imagination, etc. So, to be able to think about something, initially, we have to create a mental model of that thinking in our default network of the brain.
Just by consuming information, those models will not be created. It's like when you list your Facebook page. During the process, everything is clear, and you can read and understand everything, but when you close the application, you remember almost nothing except emotions.
How can we force our brains to create mental models in our default system based on the information we consume? In other words, how to force our brain to learn the inputted information and create knowledge from that?
For that, we have only one way. The brain has to process the information and mentally play with that to force our lazy brain to create fact cards about the topic.
Processing the information
The responsible for information processing is the ADN. This network is responsible, for example, when we solve mathematical tasks. When we concentrate and explicitly process some thoughts. In this case, the ADN can get the information from our operational memory; in other words, it can get the consumed information and can use it.
In parallel, when we mentally think about what we are doing explicitly, we create mental models of our activity in DSN. Because the ADN can process only in the scope of the DSN owned models. Or if paraphrase, we can't process something if we don't know anything.
Initial models generated during this process will be weak. We have to think about that in our mind, play with that, and in parallel, deliver more and more information and process it. Eventually, we will be able to create a well-defined fact-card about the discovered topic. In this case, it will become a skill for our brain; we can use that knowledge as an expert and will be able to process new information based on our model.
As much information we process during learning or experience as a more developed expert, we will become.
Based on the biology of the brain, we can conclude that the best way to learn new skills and become an expert is to be involved in the process. Not just read books or watch video courses, but immediately right after receiving a fresh portion of information, start challenging yourself.
In summary, the most efficient way is to collect new information for around an hour, then repeat what you just learned, and challenge yourself by creating new tasks to force your DSN to develop fact-cards.
Now Benjamin Franklin's words, "Tell me and I forget. Teach me, and I remember. Involve me, and I learn", arise in a completely new perspective.
Of course, learning new skills is reachable for everyone, but sometimes it's hard to keep discipline and pass through all obstacles alone. Better to have a trainer to challenge you and guide the complicated nuances. This way may save a lot of time and recourses on your journey of new horizons discovery.