Learning and the Brain

Caine, G., & Caine, R. N. (2006). Meaningful learning and the executive functions of the brain. In S. Johnson & K. Taylor (Eds.), The neuroscience of adult learning, pp. 53-62.

The Meaning of "Learning"

Actor-Centered Adaptive Decision Making

  • "The learner finds himself or herself in an ambiguous situation that calls for decisions to be made involving some aspect of the field of study (p. 55)."


The Executive Functions

  • "Rather these activities should be meshed with complex problems and projects that personally engage the course content and interests of the learner (p. 57)."


Executive Functions Can Be Sabotaged

  • Learning situations that induce fear inhibit the executive functions of the brain. The executive functions are those that promote higher order thinking.


Guides to Action

·      The environment must create a mental state of relaxed alertness and minimize the survival response.

·      Discover and Nourish Purpose and Passion

·      Learn to Recognize the Survival Mode

·      Practice the Art of Scaffolding

o   "This requires a teacher to help recruit the interest of the learner, develop experiences at an appropriate degree of complexity and difficulty, model and demonstrate and question and process as needed, and allow the scaffolding to fade as a learner becomes competent. Of course, because each person is unique, scaffolding must be adjusted to suit learners and content (p. 60)."