Mind and Body Connection in Learning
Wolfe, (2010), defines learning as the process of developing new knowledge or performing new behaviours. The process not only takes place in a classroom but throughout an individual’s life time. Therefore the process is of essence in humans and it is especially used by professionals such as politicians, advertisers, and employers to influence consumers, voters, and workers. Learning process is very close to memory—storage of information in the brain—and therefore the process shows positive signs of mental and intellectual development. It is for this reason that this paper will show the link between mind and body in learning procedure.
The process of learning is a cognitive process and varies in individuals where, some are fast learners while others slow. The process involves the use of mind and intellect and further requires the proper connection with the body. The brain/mind is the central processing unit and controller of the human bodies, hence a very crucial organ in human beings. The theory of mind-body connection further supports this notion which stipulates that there are interactions that take place between the body, mind, and behaviour which will influence wellness and ability to learn (Weiss, 2001). Morris et al., (2006), also asserted that the brain—which in this case is the mind—contained neurons that each contained many receptors. “The receptors are proteins are observed to be in constant vibration changing shape (Morris et al., 2006, p. 189).” From this assertion it can be seen that the mind is actually physical hence have a connection.
It is also known that neurons update regularly in humans all through the days of their lives, therefore aspects that hinder brain cell regeneration are seen to influence learning. The ability of brain cells to regenerate is called brain plasticity and has been proved to directly relate to learning capability. All biologists agree that these cells are approximately 100 billion each having connections reaching a maximum of hundreds of thousands and constantly changing (Wolfe, 2010). These numbers are seen to be very vast equivalent to those of stars in the galaxy; hence the brain is a very complex organic tissue.
Chemical neurotransmitters in the brain provide the medium through which information is transferred. The linking Point between individual cells is called a synapse, with dendrites acting as input mechanisms that get data from cells and conveying them to the rest of the neuron body. The message from the neuron body is then conducted away by axon. Weiss, (2001), explained that brain cells that work together are linked together and therefore form the basis as of how humans learn. When neurons have enough receptors—proteins—as a result of stimulations, it accelerates connections. Growth of brain cells and their connections are facilitated by two chemicals which are BDNF (Brain-Developed Neurropic Factor) and Nerve Growth Factor (NGF). These chemicals are released when the mind becomes active such as in learning procedures like thinking or solving puzzles.
In understanding the link between the brain and body, it can be seen that the brain is the major adaptation organ. In new environments, the mind is eager to learn and manage new information. “The cortex becomes the area in the brain where new learning will take place in a specific area called the association matrix (Morris et al., 2006, p. 191).” The large prefrontal cortex in the brain is the main centre that is responsible for making humans learn in new environments. In adapting, more growth factor hormones are produced as learning continues.
Care of the Brain/Mind
Since it is understood that the brain is the core organ in learning, it is therefore important that it is well nurtured and protected for proper learning. To remain intelligent cognitively and firm emotionally, there is a need to have excellent nutrition and also exercise ourselves both physically and mentally. Being spiritual, meditating, and following our passions are the essentials of boosting our mental prowess for a long time. In also taking care of our physical bodies, we take advantage of the mind’s great adaptation ability (brain plasticity) hence also improving our ability to reconfigure the brain (Nordstom & Merz, 2006).
Specifically, since the brain is the most sensitive organ, eating is the best stimulant that can affect it. The organ behaves like a giant sponge where it absorbs nearly a quarter of all glucoses that we ingest or that is produced in the body (Nordstom & Merz, 2006). Glucose in this case proves to be the major nourishment of the brain and therefore learners are advised to take complex foods rich in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins so that they would provide the brain with constant nutrition the whole day.
Light also affects the brain, where it influences circadian rhythms (Nordstom & Merz, 2006). All over our body light sensitive cells are found and with the right amount of light then optimum brain activity will be achieved. Mental gymnastics is also essential where activities such as, solving cross-word puzzles, chess playing, learning new languages are seen to promote brain activity hence learning process. Emotional control is also an aspect that is crucial in promoting brain activity. Therefore it is essential for learners to take part in activities that would give them a sense of accomplishment, control, and purpose.
Morris, R. G., Tarrassenko, L. & Kenward, M. (2006). Cognitive Systems: Information Processing Meets Brain Science. London: Elsevier. Pp. 189-236
Nordstrom, M. M., & Merz, J. F. (2006). Learning Later, Living Greater: The Secret for Making the most of your after fifty. Spruce Street: Sentient Publications. Pp. 36-43
Weiss, R. P. (Sept. 2001). The Mind Body Connection. Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 55-9. : 60-69
Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice. Varmont: ASCD. Pp. 121-132