When you hear the words learn something new, you might immediately think of an experience that helps you grow as a person. This may be through experiences of hard work, schooling and growing up.
This is all true, but learning a whole complex system is also happening inside of your body. Learning a whole new thing doesn't mean that you just have to give up all of your past knowledge. You can still learn something new, and it is important that you continue to challenge yourself on a regular basis.
To learn something new, you need to feed your brain with new information. Your brain has three major "control" areas. These control areas are the front of your brain that controls your actions, the mid-brain which is responsible for logical and rational thought, and the back of your brain which is responsible for touch and memory. When you are dealing with new information or facts, your brain will have to make new neural connections in order to process it. It is these connections that you will be working on.
Neuroscientists, including Carla Maclean, have used fMRI scans to show how our brains change while we are learning new information. When we first hear a new piece of information, our brains basically look at the world from completely different perspectives. The front of our brain starts to process this new information differently than how it looked the last time we heard it. While our memories remain mostly static, our new information changes our neural interconnections.
When you start practicing something new, you are engaging all three of your control areas. This keeps your mind active, which helps you focus on new skills. In general, it is harder to stay focused on new skills after having practiced them thoroughly earlier in your life. Your body and mind can become easily distracted. You need to deliberately keep your attention when learning a new skill. By doing this on a regular basis, your brain gets a good workout.
Neuroscientists have also studied how music affects our brains. The music has a soothing effect on our bodies and has been found effective at aiding learning. A number of studies have been done on children and adults. After listening to music for a certain amount of time, their brain activity becomes more stable. It also becomes less receptive to new information.
It takes time for your brain to absorb new information. Over a period of time, new information can change the connections in your neural pathways. When you are exposed to a lot of new material over an extended period of time, your brain can suffer a loss of memory. When you are able to focus and stay with a new skill for a reasonable length of time, your brain can develop new pathways and retain valuable information.
One final way to keep your brain engaged in learning is to actually use it while learning. If you spend a lot of time reading books, taking notes, listening to lectures, watching television or surfing the internet, you are not really using your brain. You are simply sitting inside of your head. If you spend some time doing activities that require problem solving, creativity or any type of problem-solving, your brain can come alive in learning.
Remember that what you do today will make an impression on future generations. What you learn today can shape your future. Learning something new is not always easy. Sometimes it can be difficult. However, if you don't try too hard, and if you give it your all, the rewards can be tremendous