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  • Writer's pictureHemant Pandey

What is the only scientific way to learn mathematics (According to neuroscience)?

This is the gist of the findings of the celebrated book written A mind for numbers written by renowned Author (American professor of engineering at Oakland University) Dr Barbara Oakley

There are Two Modes of Learning: The focus mode and diffused mode.

The two different neural networks we access when perceiving things and how they affect learning.

## Focus Mode vs. Diffuse Mode

- When we first sit down to learn something, we activate task-positive networks in our brain.

- However, this isn't always the right circuit to understand and comprehend the material.

- When we get frustrated, we activate a completely different set of neural circuits called the default mode network.

- This background-processing occurs when we stop thinking about it and relax, such as going for a walk or taking a shower.

- Learning involves going back and forth between these two modes: focus mode and diffuse mode.

# Neural Chunks

## Creating Well-Practiced Patterns

- When learning something new, you want to create a well-practiced neural pattern that you can easily draw to mind when you need it.

- These patterns are called "neural chunks."

- Chunking theory is incredibly important in learning because it helps us develop well-practiced patterns that make tasks seem easy.

- The bigger the library of these patterns, the more expertise you have in that topic.

# Chunking Theory

## Solid Neural Patterns

- Nobel Prize-winner Simon found that if you're a chess master, the higher your ranking in chess, the more patterns of chess you had memorized.

- Research shows that the better your expertise at anything, the more solid neural patterns (or neural chunks) you have.

- It's important to create well-practiced patterns related to multiplication, division, calculus concepts like limits, integrals, and derivatives.

- Practicing with each one of these enough makes it almost like backing up a car.

# Developing Chunks

## Practice with Key Problems (Selected key problem for solving)

- When learning something difficult, find key problems and try working on them cold.

- If you can't solve the problem, take a peek at whatever hints you need to be able to finish working it.

- Try working on the problem again cold without looking at the answer.

- Repeat this process over several days until you can step through all the solution steps in your mind.

## Develop Automatic Patterns

- By practicing key problems repeatedly, patterns become automatic.

- After several days of practice, you will have created valuable chunks that allow you to solve new problems more easily.

## All Learning Involves Neural Chunks

- Realize that all learning involves getting these neural chunks together.

Other methods

  • Active recall and spaced repetition

  • Reinforced already-learned information

  • Cognitive Loading (Pre learning before any lecture)


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