“Learning How to Learn”: Techniques to Help You Learn with Dr Barbra Oakley (CLASSIC)

Learning How to Learn

Humans have fundamental ability and cognitive resources to learn new concepts and acquire new skills and knowledge, although this may not seem natural to most of us at first. The key is to understand how the brain works so we can harness its potential by developing and adopting learning techniques that are effective and more rewarding. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Barbara Oakley about “Learning how to learn”. Dr. Oakley encourages learners to recognize that everyone learns differently. Recognizing the benefits and drawbacks of various learning approaches depending on a learner’s natural brain functioning, she argues, is the first step in learning how to handle new information.

Dr Barbara Oakley is a professor of Engineering at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. She is an inaugural “Innovation Instructor” at Coursera, an online course provider, where she co-taught one of the world’s most popular massive open online course “Learning How to Learn”. Her work focuses on the complex relationship between neuroscience and social behavior. She has written many books including “Learning How to Learn: How to Succeed in School Without Spending All Your Time Studying; A Guide for Kids and Teens”. Her book “Mindshift: Break Through Obstacles to Learning and Discover Your Hidden Potential” is also relevant to this discussion.

We start the conversation by discussing Dr Oakley’s education and professional journey, which led to her developing interest in “Learning how to learn”. We then discussed our present understanding that how learning occurs in the brain and how the brain acquires new knowledge. Dr Oakley explains why it is important to understand the working and functioning of the brain for developing and adopting effective learning techniques. Mindshift on Bridging the Gaps She then explains a number of effective techniques for effective learning such as when to focus and when to take a break, she discusses significance of practice and being persistent. Dr Oakley then discusses in detail the effectiveness of Pomodoro technique. We then discuss the future of MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) and universities in the age of online teaching and learning. We also touch upon the possible impact of over-reliance on and excessive use of technology for online learning.

Complement this discusion with Growth Mindset: A Must Have Tool for Success with Professor Carol Dweck and then listen to
And then listen to Education: What works and what does not, with Professor John Hattie. Also listen to Multiple Intelligences, Future Minds and Educating The App Generation: A discussion with Dr Howard Gardner.

By |January 3rd, 2022|Knowledge, Neuroscience, Podcasts, Research|

“The Self-Assembling Brain” and the Quest for Artificial General Intelligence with Professor Peter Robin Hiesinger

How does a network of individual neural cells become a brain? How does a neural network learn, hold information and exhibit intelligence? While neurobiologists study how nature achieves this feat, computer scientists interested in artificial intelligence attempt to achieve it through technology. Are there ideas that researchers in the field of artificial intelligence borrow from their counterparts in the field of neuroscience? Can a better understanding of the development and working of the biological brain lead to the development of improved AI? In his book “The Self-Assembling Brain: How Neural Networks Grow Smarter” professor Peter Robin Hiesinger explores stories of both fields exploring the historical and modern approaches. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with professor Peter Robin Hiesinger about the relationship between what we know about the development and working of biological brains and the approaches used to design artificial intelligence systems.

We start our conversation by reviewing the fascinating research that led to the development of neural theory. Professor Hiesigner suggests in the book that to understand what makes a neural network intelligent we must find the answer to the question: is this connectivity or is this learning that makes a neural network intelligent; we look into this argument. We then discuss “the information problem” that how we get information in the brain that makes it intelligent. We also look at the nature vs nurture debate and discuss examples of butterflies that take multigenerational trip, and scout bees that inform the bees in the hive the location and distance of the food. We also discuss the development of the biological brain by GNOME over time. We then shift the focus of discussion to artificial intelligence and explore ideas that the researchers in the field artificial intelligence can borrow from the research in the field of neuroscience. We discuss processes and approaches in the field of computing science such as Cellular Automata, Algorithmic Information Theory and Game of Life and explore their similarities with how GENOME creates the brain over time. This has been an immensely informative discussion.

Complement this discussion by listening to The Spike: Journey of Electric Signals in Brain from Perception to Action with Professor Mark Humphries and then listen to On Task: How Our Brain Gets Things Done” with Professor David Badre.

“Free Will” Through the Lenses of Philosophy and Neuroscience with Dr Alfred Mele

"Surrounding Free Will"

The debate over whether or not free will exists is not new. The main points of contention in this discussion are whether or not we have control over our actions, and if so, what kind of control we have and to what extent. On the one hand, we have a strong sense of liberty, which causes us to trust in our own free will. An intuitive and instinctive sense of free will, on the other hand, could be misinterpreted. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps, I speak with Dr Aflred Mele and we discuss the concept of “Free Will” from the perspective of philosophy and from the perspective of neuroscience.

Dr Alfred Mele is a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. His research interests include issues about human behavior located at the intersection of philosophy and science such as free will, personal autonomy, self-deception, self-control, intention, intentional action, motivation, and moral responsibility. He is also the past Director of the Philosophy and Science of Self-Control Project and the Big Questions in Free Will Project.

I open this discussion by asking Dr Mele to unpack the concept of “Free Will”. I then ask Dr Mele to outline important philosophical views about the concept of “Free Will” that emerged over time. We discuss in detail the relevant concepts of determinism, compatibilism, incompatibilism, and libertarianism. We then discuss the concept of Free Will through the lens of neuroscience. We discuss a number of experiments conducted by neuroscientists. The finding of these experiments seems to suggest that that free will is an illusion. But the question is, is it right to extrapolate the findings of these experiments that focus on simple choices and are conducted in controlled environments to conclusively suggest that free will does not exist. Dr Mele discusses this point in detail.

Complement this conversion with fascinating discussion with Professor Renata Salecl on “A Passion of Ignorance and Denials” and then listen to Professor David Chalmers in: “From Consciousness to Synthetic Consciousness”.

By |July 25th, 2021|Neuroscience, Philosophy, Podcasts, Research|