ON THINKING: “THE PUMP NEEDS TO BE PRIMED”
A great post by the Drs. Eide at their Neurolearning Blog, entitled “Priming the Pump – Optimizing Science Learning Through Analogy“
Analogies and metaphors are powerful tools for crystalling moments of insight and stimulating horizontal thinking. Why this is the case exactly science is only beginning to understand, as in the MRI study cited by the Eides but I’d posit that successful analogies work toward maximizing the brain’s natural structural-cognitive modularity (in other words, if understood, analogies are efficient connectors of brain regions and maximizers of utility).
The Eides explained:
“When researchers studed how top molecular biology labs conducted their research, they found that causal reasoning re: unexpected findings was driving much of the reasoning and analogical reasoning was used for hypothesis and explanations. When the process of analogical reasoning was studied, there appeared to be a two-part process – first, there had to be multiple potential areas for overlap, second there had to be a decision to integrate or select the best fit between the two.
The presentation goes onto compare museum exhibit learning experiences, and makes a persuasive case for successful exhibits having multiple conceptual binding points – like “things to notice”, “vocabulary necessary to discuss it”, “pictures that relate it to real world phenomena”, “questions that lead them to notice salient aspects of the exhibit.”
Analogical reasoning can appear as early as the kindergarten or early elementary school years, but Dunbar’s work reminded us that in order to be successful, the pump needs to be primed. Everyone comes with different experiences, familiarity, and observational skills – if we want students to really learn analogical reasoning and not simply memorize the right answers, then education and experience “in steps” might be in order first.“
This would not apply merely to students but to any situation where learning or problem-solving is a required skill-set. One link in the post at the Eide Neurolearning Blog related to negotiation in applying analogies and using strategies in a fluid manner. Analogies could also aid collaborative groups in moving past conceptual stumbling blocks and re-energize their creativity.
Prime your pump !
November 30th, 2006 at 10:59 am
Example of cognitive black spot from latest human v computer chess tournament on Monday… Kramnik made probably his worst blunder since a child and one of the worst ever, if not THE worst, in the history of world champions, overlooking a mate in one.
At the press conference, he could only describe it as “some sort of black out”…
(Sorry re no email; it will come).
November 30th, 2006 at 8:34 pm
Emotional arousal via the amygdala due to stress could account for the block Kramnik experienced by lowering the effciency of the frontal lobes.
Or it might have been a self-referential frame; kramnik was “looking” so hard for something he wanted to happen in his strategy that he failed to actually see the board. An attentional issue.
Or it might be something else altogether. A neuronal misfire of some kind.
Perhaps we need a study of the physiology of ” choking” under pressure.
November 30th, 2006 at 10:30 pm
i think gladwell did a new yorker article a few years ago on sports and choking – eg. greg norman in the US masters etc.
it is obviously connected to what happens to cops, soldiers etc under pressure. having worked in a nightclub, i have experienced the physical sensations of sudden violence and how it affects perception and cognition – but also how your brain becomes accustomed over time / training and learns to cope and overcome at least to some degree…
one of the things academics almost never understand about politics is the way people making decisions are swamped by data and time pressure. all the op-eds discuss options never considered by the protagonists at all – they were just trying to “get something out” before the evening news etc. although academics increasingly refer to this phenomenon, their analysis never accounts for it psychologically.
(bismarck’s long holidays in isolation helped his brain recover… personality is much more important to success in politics than IQ or whether one can do well in ivy league education – and i write that as somebody who did v well academically, but doesnt think it is the decisive factor in politics rather than policY…
December 1st, 2006 at 5:51 am
“one of the things academics almost never understand about politics is the way people making decisions are swamped by data and time pressure. all the op-eds discuss options never considered by the protagonists at all – they were just trying to “get something out” before the evening news etc. although academics increasingly refer to this phenomenon, their analysis never accounts for it psychologically.
(bismarck’s long holidays in isolation helped his brain recover”
Nixon would have agreed wholeheartedly. He said and wrote on many occasions of the need for presidents to have adequate time to think and relax in order to not be a prisoner of events