As many people who know me, I am fascinated with the brain and how it functions. In particular I seek to understand how it develops and how that impacts learning—from learning to read, to learning to self-regulate, to learning how to live. I am currently reading Temple Grandin’s book, The Way I See It, which has given me great insight into autism spectrum disorders from the perspective of someone who has it. I am fascinated by the neural pathways are developed in a neurotypical (normal) person versus someone with autism.
Why, may you ask, would this fascinate me so? Well, because if I can understand how something is constructed, it is easier for me to work with it. It is like putting the pieces of the puzzle together. The brain is experienced based. In other words, if the brain has not had REPETITIVE EXPERIENCES TO FORM CONNECTIONS, people don’t learn skills they need to foster growth. We are given a great gift in that the brain is able to rebuild some of these pathways if caught soon enough. And by repetitive experiences, I mean to the tune of 4,000 times repetitive.
This has huge (HUGE) implications for mental health, education, well-being, and poverty. If someone is not in a relationship-rich environment, then certain neural pathways are not developed. The brain is built from the bottom up and inside out! So the ability to make decisions lies predominately in the prefrontal cortex and if there have not been experiences to create strong neural pathways between all sections of the brain, bad choices are made, executive functioning is not strong.
Science is helping us create environments where we can address some of the issues we have faced for many years. It has given me a new perspective on parenting, mental health and education. TED talks are awesome and I am going to share one in this blog which speaks specifically to this issue. I hope you watch and ponder the implications she points out and whether we all could benefit from what science has to offer us!
So thank you TED talks for this new perspective!