The Learning Brain

The Learning Brain
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24 episodes in this series

Episode 1 Learning 101
Beginning with a clear, working definition of the concept of "learning," Professor Polk eases you into a course overview with simple examples of some of the topics that will be…
Episode 2 What Amnesia Teaches Us about Learning
In the 1950s, a Connecticut man named Henry Molaison became an unfortunate but invaluable source of information about how learning is implemented in the human brain after an experimental brain…
Episode 3 Conscious, Explicit Learning
Discover why we can remember visual information better than verbal information, and that we remember vivid images better than ordinary ones. Examine why how much you already know about a…
Episode 4 Episodic Memory and Eyewitness Testimony
Learn that much of what we remember is often a plausible reconstruction of what might have happened, rather than an accurate memory of what actually happened. We also discover just…
Episode 5 Semantic Memory
How do you know the distance to the Earth from the Sun? With no first-hand experience, we use "semantic memory" - impersonal, fact-based memory - for world knowledge. Semantic memory…
Episode 6 The Neural Basis of Explicit Learning
Take a fantastic voyage into your brain to uncover the physical mechanisms involved in forming explicit memories. The voyage begins in the hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped structure in each temporal lobe,…
Episode 7 Strategies for Effective Explicit Learning
Set your highlighters and pens down and stop re-reading your material! These are actually two of the least-effective study techniques. Professor Polk explains why these old techniques don't really work…
Episode 8 Controversies in Explicit Learning Research
To wrap up the course's section on conscious, explicit learning, Professor Polk delivers an enticing "myth-busting" talk about controversial topics in the field. Do people repress traumatic memories and can…
Episode 9 Unconscious, Implicit Learning
In this lecture, The Learning Brain switches gears from explicit to implicit learning, that is, learning that is unconscious and hard to verbalize. Discover non-associative learning, like learning to ignore…
Episode 10 The Psychology of Skill Learning
Compare the first time you tried to tie your shoes to your present-day, shoelace-tying mastery. How did you come such a long way? Practice alone doesn't begin to cover the…
Episode 11 Language Acquisition
Learning a new language is labor-intensive and complicated, so how do toddlers do it so easily? This lecture details how our brains progress from single-word associations to forming full, original…
Episode 12 The Neural Basis of Implicit Learning
Turn again to the neural components of learning to better understand how unconscious, implicit learning occurs in your brain. You actually have more connections between the neurons in your brain…
Episode 13 Strategies for Effective Skill Learning
Beginning the second half of this course, we return to more practical applications of learning science. Care to step up your tennis, golf, or typing game? This series of sometimes…
Episode 14 Learning Bad Habits: Addiction
How can learning go wrong? Using the knowledge you've been taught so far, you can unmask the dark side of unconscious associations and reward-seeking behavior: addictions to drugs and alcohol.…
Episode 15 Introduction to Working Memory
Begin with an overview of working (or short-term) memory, which is vital to rational thought. This lecture introduces you to the idea of working memory and discusses one of the…
Episode 16 Components of Working Memory
Several important components of working memory are covered here: the visuospatial sketchpad, which retains images from both recent perception and from long-term memory; the central executive, which decides which cognitive…
Episode 17 The Neural Basis of Working Memory
Diving back into the brain itself, this lecture explores the neuroscience behind working memory in much the same way earlier lectures examined explicit memory and implicit memory. Are different parts…
Episode 18 Training Your Working Memory
Psychological elements of working memory? Check. Neurological elements? Check. Next, we learn about the controversial topic of improving your working memory. Some scientists believe that training your working memory can…
Episode 19 How Motivation Affects Learning
Enjoy this eye-opening discussion about our drive - or lack thereof - to learn, and the enormous impact our motivation can have. Our personal interest in a subject, our belief…
Episode 20 How Stress and Emotion Affect Learning
Ask almost anyone where they were when they heard about major events like the 9/11 attacks or the Challenger explosion and they remember immediately. Why, psychologically, do those memories remain…
Episode 21 How Sleep Affects Learning
If you think "getting a good night's rest" is the only way that sleep affects learning, think again. Our brain is often just as active during sleep as it is…
Episode 22 How Aging Affects Learning
Here's another fascinating surprise: Aging does not inevitably lead to learning and memory problems. In fact, there are substantial differences in how aging affects different cognitive functions and in how…
Episode 23 Dyslexia and Other Learning Disabilities
Several common learning disabilities are defined and explored. Learn about dyslexia, the most common learning disability, including its symptoms, the neural mechanisms that underlie it, and how difficulty in recognizing…
Episode 24 Optimize Your Learning
Professor Polk wraps things up by discussing five strategies that can make you a better learner. These strategies draw on and integrate some of the key themes that have appeared…

Related videos

Episodic Memory and Eyewitness Testimony
Episode 4 of The Learning Brain
Learn that much of what we remember is often a plausible reconstruction of what might have happened, rather than an accurate memory of what actually happened. We also discover just how susceptible eyewitness memories are to distortion, and how being asked seemingly innocuous questions can lead to substantial errors in…
Semantic Memory
Episode 5 of The Learning Brain
How do you know the distance to the Earth from the Sun? With no first-hand experience, we use "semantic memory" - impersonal, fact-based memory - for world knowledge. Semantic memory also includes our grouping or categorizing of information - but how do our brains do that? Professor Polk makes short,…
Introduction to Working Memory
Episode 15 of The Learning Brain
Begin with an overview of working (or short-term) memory, which is vital to rational thought. This lecture introduces you to the idea of working memory and discusses one of the most important mechanisms involved, the "phonological loop," which we use to store language sounds like words for brief periods of…
Components of Working Memory
Episode 16 of The Learning Brain
Several important components of working memory are covered here: the visuospatial sketchpad, which retains images from both recent perception and from long-term memory; the central executive, which decides which cognitive functions to perform and when to perform them; and the episodic buffer, which links information from other working memory components…
The Neural Basis of Working Memory
Episode 17 of The Learning Brain
Diving back into the brain itself, this lecture explores the neuroscience behind working memory in much the same way earlier lectures examined explicit memory and implicit memory. Are different parts of the brain responsible for storing visual information versus verbal information in working memory? Prepare for an illuminating ride.
Training Your Working Memory
Episode 18 of The Learning Brain
Psychological elements of working memory? Check. Neurological elements? Check. Next, we learn about the controversial topic of improving your working memory. Some scientists believe that training your working memory can improve your overall intelligence and reduce ADHD symptoms; others disagree. Both sides of these widely debated controversies are discussed.
Conscious, Explicit Learning
Episode 3 of The Learning Brain
Discover why we can remember visual information better than verbal information, and that we remember vivid images better than ordinary ones. Examine why how much you already know about a topic can have a profound influence on how easy it is to learn new information about it. These examples demonstrate…
The Neural Basis of Explicit Learning
Episode 6 of The Learning Brain
Take a fantastic voyage into your brain to uncover the physical mechanisms involved in forming explicit memories. The voyage begins in the hippocampus, the seahorse-shaped structure in each temporal lobe, where explicit learning begins. It continues out to the cerebral cortex - the grey matter on the outside of the…
Strategies for Effective Explicit Learning
Episode 7 of The Learning Brain
Set your highlighters and pens down and stop re-reading your material! These are actually two of the least-effective study techniques. Professor Polk explains why these old techniques don't really work and offers four different, and more efficient, approaches to studying, which have been scientifically demonstrated to work more effectively.
Controversies in Explicit Learning Research
Episode 8 of The Learning Brain
To wrap up the course's section on conscious, explicit learning, Professor Polk delivers an enticing "myth-busting" talk about controversial topics in the field. Do people repress traumatic memories and can such repressed memories later re-emerge? Professor Polk cuts through the hype and lays out the actual scientific findings related to…
Unconscious, Implicit Learning
Episode 9 of The Learning Brain
In this lecture, The Learning Brain switches gears from explicit to implicit learning, that is, learning that is unconscious and hard to verbalize. Discover non-associative learning, like learning to ignore a fan blowing in a room, as well as associative learning, such as conditioning, through which positive and negative reinforcement…
The Neural Basis of Implicit Learning
Episode 12 of The Learning Brain
Turn again to the neural components of learning to better understand how unconscious, implicit learning occurs in your brain. You actually have more connections between the neurons in your brain than there are stars in our galaxy. Explore how your brain does so, how it learns to predict rewards, and…