Thrive Psychology Psychotherapy Psychoeducation

How are memories formed in the brain?

by Thrive Psychology
October 19th, 2017

Learn: How are memories formed in the brain?

From: The Human Body: Secrets of Your Life Revealed.

This ingenious programme shares the secrets of learning.  Dr Xand van Tullekan reveals the  importance of filling our mind with sensory information from the outside world, for instance using our eyes and ears, and in paying attention to the meaning of the experience.  The combination of these activates three different areas of the brain, in the example of Akash in this clip:

  • The visual cortex at the back of the brain
  • The auditory cortex at the side of the brain
  • The anterior temporal lobe where our sense of meaning resides

The connections between these three separate areas must be strengthened for learning to occur.

Later in the programme we see how myelination of the nerve fibres helps conduct the speed of the signals more efficiently.  The creation of this wonderful white matter, allows a skill, behaviour or idea that previously took conscious effort to do or think, to become automatic, easy & effortless!

If you are trying to decrease behaviour that is unhelpful that you have done a lot – the reason it is so easy to keep slipping back is simply because your neural pathway for this behaviours has axons that are myelinated!!!  So, keep practicing the new behaviour, and ensure, as much as possible, that you really engage in the meaning and emotion of the new experiences that you want to learn.  This will support your oligodendrocytes to add myelin to your axons sheaths!  This very strange sounding process is truly awe-inspiring – it increases the time for messages to move around your brain by up to 10,000 times!

If it isn’t working – consider that you are trying to learn too much at once, break down the learning into a smaller step, practice, engage emotionally, and see if it builds gradually.  Learning whilst staying safe is demonstrated brilliantly by the mountain biker Danny MacAskill, in this programme.  He pushing his ability a little at a time, cushioning his fall and building his capacity!  The outcome? Astonishing!

or watch the whole programme for the next 21 days here on the BBC iplayer.


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