“Learning, thought, creativity and intelligence are not processes of the brain alone, but of the whole body.”
– Carla Hannaford, Ph.D.
Connections between the brain and body
In our society it is widely believed that intelligence is measured by one’s analytical skills which is reflected by an IQ score. High IQ = smart; low IQ = not so much. We also act as if the body exists to carry the brain from place to place, with the actual learning process happening only in the brain. We believe in exercising the brain, but don’t tend to view body movement as valuable to the learning process. However, that is not the case.
Kids especially benefit from body movement. It is essential to the learning process to allow children to explore every aspect of movement and balance in their environment, whether walking on a curb, climbing a tree, or jumping on the furniture.
Body movement does a lot for our minds, such as:
– is integral to our intellectual processes from the moment of conception
– allows us to take in information through our senses
– then anchors this information in our neural networks
– is necessary as we build the skills we need to express our knowledge throughout our lives
Here’s how it works
We absorb information about the world through our bodies.The body is like a huge magnet for learning, which comes to us through our eyes, hands, ears, taste buds and noses.
This information is stored in various regions of the brain:
- Occipital Lobe is the visual area which receives visual information regarding shape, color movement and which also relates current input to previous input.
- Temporal Lobe is the auditory area having to do with sound, pitch, rhythm, the interpretation of speech, gravitational sense, balance, vibrational sense. The temporal lobe also is the area for the sense of smell.
- Parietal Lobe is the area for the senses such as touch, pain, cold, awareness of our bodies in space, shape, texture, orients where objects are in relationship to the body, and interprets sensations of taste (sweet, salty, bitter, etc.).
- Frontal Lobe is the area that controls muscles from all over the body, learner motor movements, skilled movements, the scanning movements of the eyes, and the place where thoughts are translated into speech and where inner talk (gratification, self-control, cause and effect, etc.) takes place.
A rich learning experience will combine images that include shape patterns and color (from the occipital lobe), tones and words (from the temporal and frontal lobes), emotional experiences or connections (from the limbic system), and movements (from the basal ganglion).
Movement begins to create networks in the brain, which is the same type of communication that happens in the brain when a child is learning. One encourages the other.
When we speak of a true multisensory learning experience, this is what it looks like and why it is significant for learning – the more regions of the brain that are stimulated in the process of learning, the more effective the activity will be.