I am very pleased to introduce to you, (drum roll…..) Stella Collins, author of “Neuroscience for L&D” and Creative Director of Stellar Learning. Stella knows lots of great practical stuff about the brain that can help people to learn better, with more retention and in this blog will be discussing the use of your senses! Stella’s brain friendly approach fits in perfectly with our approach using the 5 secrets of accelerated learning, where the 5th secret is about the brain and how it learns the best. So here are Stella’s thoughts……
Make it real – use your senses!
Do you ever read or hear something which makes you almost feel you’d been there yourself? Then there are other times when you hear or read something and whilst you know all the words make sense and the language is clear, somehow you just don’t quite ‘get it’- it seems a bit abstract, flat, hard to get a handle on?
Perhaps it’s because the abstract information isn’t rich enough for you to get a concrete, textural, sonorous, colourful, vibrant vision of the information. Perhas there just isn’t quite enough going on in your brain to make it real and you’re relying on using your energy hungry pre-frontal cortex to analyse it.
When information comes to us directly through our senses we have a rich, complex mixture of information spreading throughout our brains. I once heard we receive over 2 billion bits of information a second. You have a visual cortex, auditory cortex, motor cortex, an olfactory bulb for a sense of smell and part of your parietal lobe to process taste allowing a rich body of information to be processed throughout your brain. But when information is like this – just words – there is no direct sense associated with them (just like in this sentence). Which makes it harder for you or your audience to comprehend because there’s nothing very tangible to process.
There’s now research to back up what great speakers and writers have always known – using language that paints a picture, rings true or feels solid is making your brain work almost as if the sensory information is really there; which literally makes it easier to make sense of.
Researchers tested what happened in subjects’ brains when they were touching rough textures like sandpaper. They saw that specific parts of the brain were stimulated when people feel texture in the real world. Next they asked subjects to listen to short sentences containing textural metaphors such as ‘a rough day’ or ‘a slimy person’ and found that the same brain areas were activated.
So if you’re training or sharing information use metaphors, stories, sensory based language because it’s really creating extraordinary sensations in your audience’s head. They will grasp your meaning, see your point or hear you out more easily – and remember it for longer too.