Priming: Getting the Brain Ready to Learn

My husband and I went to see the movie “Focus” the other evening. A segment of the movie gave a vivid example of “priming” – the word brain scientists give to a concept that is really important for human learning.  

brainNeuroscientific studies have shown that the human brain will accept new information more readily when it has been “primed” beforehand, that is, when it has been introduced to some of the information in informal, non-threatening ways before the more formal instruction takes place. This means that trainers need to offer learners ways to explore content before the actual class or training occurs.

These ways can include sending out an email or creating a blog post with “Warm-Ups” (see examples on this previous blog post), having learners explore websites, videos, or other Internet sources that have to do with the topic, suggesting that they interview colleagues who are familiar with the topic or that they read information you have posted before the class or training begins.

Will learners do these optional activities? Some will; some won’t. But even if they don’t, their brain will still have been “primed” to pay attention to some topic-related information before the class or training occurs. Furthermore, during the class, learners will feel that the new information is familiar to them and they will “buy-in” (i.e. accept it) more readily.

For more of this kind of practical brain science about  human learning, consider attending the upcoming Super Session “Using Brain Science to Make Training Stick” in Sacramento CA on March 20th 2015. Click on the above link or HERE for details and registration information. Hope to see you there!

Comments? Questions? Reply here: