A is for... Amygdala

A is for... Amygdala

In our previous blog, we explained that we will be starting a new series of blogs - An A-Z of Brain Friendly Learning - with top tips to help you make your learning more brain-friendly.   And ‘A is for... Amygdala’ is the first in this series.

Our Amygdala, in simplistic terms, is the part of our brains that is linked to emotion.

It has long been important for us as human beings to remember things that we find 'emotional' and things that create both strongly negative, and strongly positive, emotions for us. But why is this? Well, if something is scary (like a sabre toothed tiger), we want to remember it to avoid it again in the future.  It’s down to our survival instinct.

On the flip side, if something makes us happy (like finding a plentiful new food source), then we will want to be able to find it again and repeat the experience over and over.

So what does this mean for how we design and facilitate our learning programmes?

Well, we can help learners to remember more of what they have learnt with us by incorporating emotion into their learning. We do this by finding ways to encourage them to associate emotion with what they are learning as this enables them to trigger that memory more easily later on.

Story-telling is a great and powerful way to do this - particularly stories that tug at your heart strings. Alternatively, simply helping people make a connection with how applying this training will help them personally experience more positive emotions / fewer negative emotions can be a great motivator as well.   Less stress.  Fewer complaints.  More positive feedback.  Whatever it might be.

One word of warning though. Whilst both positive and negative emotions can work, I would personally recommend steering clear of strongly negative emotions such as fear, terror etc. They are not really the kinds of emotional states that you want your learners to associate with your programmes! They can even have the opposite effect and block any learning actually taking place.  So keep it positive where you can!

Top Tip - A is for Amygdala - Engage the Amygdala and create emotion for your learners!

Keep a look out for my next Top Tip for making your learning more brain friendly, "B is for..."

NB: For more information about using emotions in learning, check out my previous blog here.