Learning Science Changes the Brain

The study unravels a little more in the nature of our thinking organ.

Man’s mind was basically utilized for fundamental surviving activities, like protecting themselves as well as hunting and gathering. However, 200,000 years afterwards the same mind has the capacity to gain knowledge of abstract concepts, such as momentum, energy not to mention the law of gravity, which have just been officially identified in the past few hundreds of years.

A new study conducted at the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) has recently found the way the human brain is capable of obtaining completely new kinds of concepts. The results were achieved by employing the neural-decoding techniques engineered at CMU to determine precise physics principles that sophisticated college students remembered whenever asked. The activation patterns of the brain, when thinking about the physics principles revealed that each of the students’ minds utilized the ancient human brain systems identically, as well as the patterns unveiled the way the innovative knowledge was produced – by repurposing present neural systems.

The results could be helpful to enhance science teaching

According to said Mason, a senior research associate in the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ Department of Psychology and one of the authors of the study, if science teachers had the knowledge on how the brain is going to encode a new science concept, then they can specify and intricate that concept in manners that complement the encoding. They can educate the brain via the brain’s language.

The researchers enrolled 9 advanced physics and engineering students to take part in the research. Each had their brain scanned at CMU’s Scientific Imaging and Brain Research (SIBR) Center as they were shown a collection of thirty common principles, like the law of gravity, refraction, inertia, entropy, and refraction not to mention velocity.

Employing a machine learning program, the authors determined which from the 30 principles an individual was thinking of since the thought of just about every principle produced a unique brain activation pattern. Additionally they were able to disintegrate the patterns into the various neural pieces employed to construct the entire principles.

The study is the first-example to reveal how learning physics principles is achieved by repurposing neural structures which were initially utilized for basic daily needs. Particularly, the brain has the capacity to gain knowledge of physics principles due to its capacity to comprehend the 4 basic principles of causal motion, flow of energy, periodicity, along with algebraic representations.

According to one of the authors, it is for such reasons humans have been able to move ahead and innovate since we can use our brain for new purposes. He also added that human brains haven’t evolved much over a few thousand years, however new fields like aeronautics, genetics, medicine and computer science have been developed and continuously change. Thus their findings enlightens us on the brain’s ability to study and learn new kinds of principles.

This research was published in Psychological Science.

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