How Much can Your Physiology Manipulate Your Learning Abilities? Posture can trigger our brain to work for us

By Saiju Aravind

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In human beings, the mental landscape is often manifested in their physiology. Children with some psychological problems are recognizable by their slumped posture, drooping face, facial expressions, etc. In all psychosomatic illnesses, the mind manifests itself through the body, while pain and anguish are acutely manifested on the face. Just as a disturbed mind can affect the body, the converse is also true - controlling certain physiological factors can help us manipulate the brain.

A popular video by Dr Robert Hamilton demonstrates how a crying baby can be instantly calmed by turning the baby over, holding her at about forty-five degrees, crossing her hands and rocking her gently. Similarly, various aspects of our physiological well being affect our ability to think, absorb and implement the knowledge that we gather.

Posture directly proportional to learning

Ask your friend what she was doing last Sunday without shifting her gaze away from you and you will notice her struggling! The natural tendency is to throw the head back while the brain heads back into the past. Conversely, bending forward engages the prefrontal cortex for problem-solving. Several studies conducted on chess players reveal the close correlation between posture and thought process. We can harness these findings to our advantage: make small physiological changes consciously and see for yourself how it makes learning easier.

The relation between posture and brain activity

Posture can trigger our brain to work for us. Recent studies reveal that simply sitting up straight can change the way we think. A case in point: Adam, a youngster in our study class, though quite brilliant, was a very distracted boy with a GPA score around 6. When he first came to us, he would stretch out in the chair, legs forward and head leaning back. It did not take us very long to guess that his "laid back' posture may have reserved a back seat for his academic performance. In our counselling session, we informed him that a forward shift in position would help in activating the prefrontal cortex, so that he can grasp everything quickly and learn faster, easier. This struck home and he instantly changed his posture and maintained an upright position in class throughout the year. We were fairly confident that Adam would do well, but when he scored over 9, that really made us sit up too!

Buoyed by the success story, we tried this principle on Davis, Siddarth and Kevin, youngsters with drooping shoulders, chin down and fidgety hands - and the magic repeated. When magic repeats itself, it is called science.

Changes in posture lead to changes in Brain activity

By consciously adopting a confident posture, the brain releases chemicals associated with a sense of well-being, creating a conducive learning environment within. Research, as well as our own experience, suggests that we can fake it to make it! Laughter clubs, whose membership mostly comprises of senior citizens, work on this principle. Their popularity suggests that the older generations probably find it both mood enhancing and boosting memory. Similarly, changing your place of study, drinking water in between, etc., are all beneficial for studies

Key to learning - Tweaks in Physiology

Learning, perceived as a mental activity, is generally seen as dependant on the brain alone. But as a matter of fact, positive physiological conditions can make the brain receptive to learning. An awareness of what makes each learner physiologically receptive would help create a positive learning environment for them.The science of neurolinguistics is relatively new, but we hope that more research in neurolinguistics will offer us simple, non-technological techniques to make learning easier.To people going through learning challenges, simple physiological tweaks are like a life jacket to a drowning man and it could make a magical difference!

Saiju Aravind

Founder & MD - EduBrisk Knowledge

EduBrisk is an integrated and personalised teaching and learning tool founded by IIT-ian and former Senior Scientist, DRDO and Naval Architect, Mr. Saiju Aravind, with a vision to disrupt the teaching-learning process for the K-12 segment. The EduBrisk Methodology is holistic, in that it includes Teachers and Parents as well.

Lending practical solutions to its Founder’s core belief of the need to understand how to learn before imparting and gaining knowledge, EduBrisk functions on its unique brand purpose of ‘Learning to Learn’, ‘Learning to Teach Inclusively’ and ‘Learning to Mentor’, targeted for Students, Teachers, and Parents, respectively.

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