from the world's big
Don't worry about making a mistake. It's how we learn.
A new study at UPenn found that effective learning includes mistakes—just not too many.
- Humans learn best when avoiding too much complexity and getting the gist of situations, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania.
- Instead of remember every detail, we learn by categorizing situations through pattern recognition.
- We wouldn't retain much if we considered a high level of complexity with every piece of information.
Humans learn in patterns. Take a bush that you pass every day. It's not particularly attractive; it just happens to exist along your normal route. One day you notice a brownish tail sticking out of one side. A nose pops out of the other side. The bush happens to be roughly the size of a tiger. The only thought you have is run.
You didn't need to see the entire tiger to get out of there. Enough of a pattern had emerged for you to get the gist.
Getting the gist is how we learn, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania. Published in Nature Communications, the paper looks at the balance between simplicity and complexity. Human learning falls somewhere in the middle of this spectrum: enough to get an idea, not enough to avoid mistakes. Mistakes are an integral aspect of learning.
The team, consisting of physics Ph.D. student Christopher Lynn, neuroscience Ph.D. student Ari Kahn, and professor Danielle Bassett, recruited 360 volunteers. Each participant stared at five grey squares on a computer screen, with every square corresponding to a keyboard key. Two squares simultaneously turned red. Participants were asked to tap the corresponding keys every time this happened.
While volunteers suspected the color changes were random, the researchers knew better. The sequences were generated using one of two networks: a modular network and a lattice network. Though nearly identical at a small scale, the patterns produced appear different from a macro level. Lynn explains why this matters:
"A computer would not care about this difference in large-scale structure, but it's being picked up by the brain. Subjects could better understand the modular network's underlying structure and anticipate the upcoming image."
The Science of Learning: How to Turn Information into Intelligence | Barbara Oakley
Comparing a human brain to a computer is inaccurate, they say. Computers understand information on a micro level. Every tiny detail matters. One errant symbol in one line of code can bring down an entire network. Humans learn by staring at the forest, not the trees. This allows us to avoid complexity, which is important if the goal is to understand a lot of information. It also means we're going to make mistakes. As Kahn phrases it,
"Understanding structure, or how these elements relate to one another, can emerge from an imperfect encoding of the information. If someone were perfectly able to encode all of the incoming information, they wouldn't necessarily understand the same kind of grouping of experiences that they do if there's a little bit of fuzziness to it."
Recognizing that something is like something else is a major reason we can consume so much data. In cognitive psychology this categorization process is known as chunking: individual pieces of data broken down and grouped together to form a whole. It is a highly efficient process that also leaves us prone to errors.
Ten percent of participants had high beta values, meaning they were extra cautious. They didn't want to make errors. Twenty percent exhibited low beta values—highly error-prone. The bulk of the group fell somewhere in-between.
Fans of a recent anti-vaccination film could be said to exhibit low-beta value. Vaccines are one of the most beneficial protective measures ever discovered. You can't actually estimate how many lives have been saved; that's not how proactive measures work. You can look at population charts, however. When vaccines were first put into clinical use there were over a billion people on the planet. That's after 350,000 years of Homo sapiens development. We're approaching eight billion people just 139 years after Louis Pasteur's vaccine experiments. (Germ theory, food distribution, antibiotics, and technology also play a role, though vaccines are relevant.)
Vaccination has never been a perfect science. As with every medical intervention, they're complex. Low-beta thinkers eschew complexity for simplicity. Many confuse a few trees for the forest. This is important during a time in which information is being weaponized to promote agendas. Sifting through complexity is exhausting; thus more people take the easiest route.
Not that learning should be too complex. As stated, only one in 10 people overly complicate their thinking. Most people sit in the middle, making mistakes while mostly getting the gist.
The researchers hope that this information will help address psychiatric conditions (such as schizophrenia) in the future. They cite the emerging field of computational psychiatry, "which uses powerful data analysis, machine learning, and artificial intelligence to tease apart the underlying factors behind extreme and unusual behaviors."
Don't get frustrated with your mistakes. We all make them. The key is to recognize them and learn from the experience. Mostly, the gist is enough.
- Jonah Lehrer on Learning From Mistakes - Big Think ›
- Why admitting mistakes is essential for personal growth. - Big Think ›
- Cognitive Science Explains Why We Keep Repeating Mistakes ... ›
Sallie Krawcheck and Bob Kulhan will be talking money, jobs, and how the pandemic will disproportionally affect women's finances.
Can an orgasm a day really keep the doctor away?
- Achieving orgasm through masturbation provides a rush of feel-good hormones (such as dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin) and can re-balance our levels of cortisol (a stress-inducing hormone). This helps our immune system function at a higher level.
- The surge in "feel-good" hormones also promotes a more relaxed and calm state of being, making it easier to achieve restful sleep, which is a critical part in maintaining a high-functioning immune system.
- Just as bad habits can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system which can prevent you from becoming sick.
How masturbation affects your brain...<p>Orgasms are a very common human phenomenon. The physical and mental health benefits have been researched frequently as a result, and yet, there is still so much to be learned about how our bodies and brains react to the chemicals and hormones released during and after experiencing this type of sexual release.</p><p>"The amount of speculation versus actual data on both the function and value of orgasm is remarkable" explains Julia Heiman, director of the <a href="https://kinseyinstitute.org/" target="_blank">Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction</a>.</p><p>Masturbation causes a rush of <a href="https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/what-is-dopamine" target="_blank">dopamine</a>, which is a chemical that is associated with our ability to feel pleasure. Along with the rush of dopamine that is released during an orgasm, there is also a release of a hormone called <a href="https://www.livescience.com/42198-what-is-oxytocin.html" target="_blank">oxytocin</a>, which is commonly referred to as the "love hormone."<br></p><p>This concoction of chemicals does more than just boost our mood, it also can play a key role in decreasing stress and promoting relaxation. Oxytocin decreases <a href="https://www.webmd.com/a-to-z-guides/what-is-cortisol" target="_blank">cortisol</a>, which is a stress hormone that is usually present (in high volumes) during times of anxiety, fear, panic, or distress. </p><p>According to BDSM and fetish researcher <a href="https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/therapists/dr-gloria-brame-colbert-ga/278388" target="_blank">Dr. Gloria Brame</a>, an orgasm is the biggest non-drug induced blast of dopamine that we can experience. </p><p>By boosting the oxytocin and dopamine levels and subsequently decreasing our cortisol levels, the brain is placed in a more relaxed, euphoric, and calm state. </p>
Masturbation boosts your immune system and raises your white blood cell count.<p>How do those effects on the brain from reaching orgasm translate to boosting our immune system and making our body healthier?</p><p>The increase of oxytocin and dopamine that causes a decrease in cortisol levels can help boost our immune system because cortisol (well-known for being a stress-inducing hormone) actually helps maintain your immune system if released in small doses. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.health24.com/Sex/Great-sex/incredible-health-benefits-to-masturbating-20181030-2" target="_blank">Dr. Jennifer Landa</a>, a hormone-therapy specialist, masturbation can produce the right kind of environment for a strengthened immune system to thrive. </p><p><a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15316239" target="_blank">A study</a> conducted by the Department of Medical Psychology at the University Clinic of Essen (in Germany) showed similar results. A group of 11 volunteers were asked to participate in a study that would look at the effects of orgasm through masturbation on the white blood cell count and immune system.</p><p>During this experiment, the white blood cell count of each participant was analyzed through measures that were taken 5 minutes before and 45 minutes after reaching a self-induced orgasm. </p><p>The results confirmed that sexual arousal and orgasm increased the number of white blood cells, particularly the natural killer cells that help fight off infections. </p><p>The findings confirm that our immune system is positively affected by sexual arousal and self-induced orgasm and promote even more research into the positive impacts of sexual arousal and orgasm. </p>
Masturbation can ease and prevent pain, which allows you to achieve the restful sleep that helps your immune system stay strong and healthy.<p>The benefits of masturbation have long been debated, but the more research that is done on the topic the more we understand that there are many positive reactions that happen in our bodies and brains when we orgasm.</p><p>Orgasms can help prevent or mitigate pain, which boosts the immune system, preventing cold and flu symptoms. </p><p>According to neurologist and headache specialist Stefan Evers, about one in three patients experience relief from migraine attacks by experiencing sexual activity or orgasm. Evers and his team <a href="https://www.livescience.com/27642-sex-relieves-migraine-pain.html" target="_blank">conducted an experiment</a> with 800 migraine patients and 200 patients who suffered from cluster-headaches to see how their experiences with sexual activity impacted their pain levels. </p><p>The study showed that 60% of migraine sufferers experienced pain relief after participating in sexual activity that resulted in orgasm. Of the cluster-headache sufferers, about 50% said their headaches actually worsened after sexual arousal and orgasm. </p><p>Evers suggested in his findings that the people who did not experience pain relief from migraines of headaches during their sexual activity did not release as large amounts of endorphins as those who did experience pain relief. </p><p>According to <a href="https://www.sharecare.com/health/chronic-pain/chronic-pain-affect-immune-system" target="_blank">rheumatologist Dr. Harris McIlwain</a>, people who suffer from chronic pain have immune systems that are simply not functioning at full capacity - therefore, alleviating pain (through orgasm, as an example) can help boost the immune system. </p><p>Orgasms can also promote relaxation and make it easier to fall asleep. Serotonin, oxytocin, and norepinephrine are all hormones that are released during sexual arousal and orgasm, and all three are known for counteracting stress hormones and promoting relaxation, which makes it much easier for you to fall asleep.</p><p>There are <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1233384" target="_blank">several studies</a> showing that serotonin and norepinephrine help our body cycle through REM and deep non-REM sleeping cycles. During these sleep cycles, the immune system releases proteins called <a href="https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/how-sleep-affects-your-immunity" target="_blank"><span id="selection-marker-1" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span>cytokines<span id="selection-marker-2" class="redactor-selection-marker"></span></a>, which target infection and inflammation. This is a critical part of our immune response. Cytokines are both produced and released throughout our bodies while we sleep, which proves the importance of a good sleep schedule to a healthy immune system.</p>
Masturbation promotes a high-functioning immune system; a healthy immune system prevents cold and flu.<p>The immune system is a balanced network of cells and organs that work together to defend you against infections and diseases by stopped threats like bacteria and viruses from entering your system. While there are many things we need to do to keep our immune systems functioning at optimal levels, masturbation (or other means of achieving orgasm) has proven to have positive effects on the immune system as a whole.</p><p>Just as bad habits (such as an inconsistent sleep schedule or harmful chemicals in your body) can slow your immune system, positive habits (such as a healthy sleep schedule and active sex life) can help boost your immune system. </p>
The word "learning" opens up space for more people, places, and ideas.
- The terms 'education' and 'learning' are often used interchangeably, but there is a cultural connotation to the former that can be limiting. Education naturally links to schooling, which is only one form of learning.
- Gregg Behr, founder and co-chair of Remake Learning, believes that this small word shift opens up the possibilities in terms of how and where learning can happen. It also becomes a more inclusive practice, welcoming in a larger, more diverse group of thinkers.
- Post-COVID, the way we think about what learning looks like will inevitably change, so it's crucial to adjust and begin building the necessary support systems today.
The coronavirus pandemic has brought out the perception of selfishness among many.
- Selfish behavior has been analyzed by philosophers and psychologists for centuries.
- New research shows people may be wired for altruistic behavior and get more benefits from it.
- Crisis times tend to increase self-centered acts.