Neurobiological Learning: Traumatic and Non-Traumatic Learning

Neurobiological Learning describes the way that humans build neural circuits by the physical depositing of myelin, “White Matter”, along particular nerves and pathways.

Like the electrical wiring in ones house brain cells (neurons) conduct electrical impulses much faster and more efficiently if they are insulated properly, allowing impulses to travel without being influenced by other nearby wires, or neurons and the like.

When we are born and continuing into childhood, our brains learn like sponges because they actively deposit myelin along various neural circuits and thus reinforce proficient neural pathways.

Neurobiological learning begins closer to inception than birth, but learning after birth is driven first and foremost by the raw power and form of the traumatic birth event. We are wired for struggle and driven to curiously explore, imagine and create. Our instincts fuel our survival while our higher human endowments fuel our growth and creative expression.

Within hours after birth, a second learning system, based on curiosity and discovery (the creative force) aided by maternal imprinting, begins competing with traumatic learning for precedence. The influence of ones mother (primary care giver) cannot be overstated, as her relating of the child to its new environment forms the construct through which the individual will view themselves and their world.

Learning from this point on occurs in any way it can, bounded only by the limitations imposed by learning steps, phases, or levels; developmental periods; and traumatic “environmental” events.

Through our painful and challenging experiences, from the outset of our life, we are bestowed many opportunities to grow. How we express our human endowments, though heavily influenced by our external environment, is always our own creation.

Hard Wiring

As our brains are in the developmental state of active myelination, the amount of time and the intensity of experientially learned behaviors are determinative if neural circuits are to become hard wired after active myelination ceases.

Eventually myelin is deposited in most of our brain and as in adults, our neural circuits have become relatively set. Going forward the mechanism for learning changes from actively laying down new myelin to the redistribution of myelin from one place to another.

BioChemical Mediators of Learning Reinforcement

The deposition of myelin is influenced by our sympathetic nervous system input and developmentally by sex hormones (testosterone and estrogen) and other hormones.

During puberty and adolescence, surges in sex hormones influence the development of neural pathways, differently in males and females.

Oxytocin, (often referred to as the empathy hormone) and serotonin, the sympathetic nervous systems bonding reinforcer, influence Non-Traumatic learning and associated neural pathways.

The stress hormones associated with the flight or flight response, epinephrine and cortisol, reinforce Traumatic learning promoting myelin to be deposited and redistributed along certain pathways.

Dopamine, reinforces pathways that are associated with pleasure, both chemical and behavioral addictions.

Reason and Logic Do Not Support Learning

“The rules come after the fact!”

This principle is a guiding force in the study of Neurobiological Learning. Structure and rule based learning environments, though routinely employed with the advent of scholasticism and subsequent governmental educational systems, are not well suited for effective learning.

Logic, Reasoning, defining, and the use of language does not determine the development of the brain or learning. They can all be derived from, but do not explicitly determine the development of the human brain.

Traumatic, sexual, and transformational learning events have the power to amplify learning as well as initiate myelination.

The “flavor” of experiential learning determines what is learned and how its’ resultant physical circuitry is anatomically wired in the brain.

We have many teachers in our lives, both good and bad, but many teachers. They can be literal school room teachers, parents, siblings, friends, mentors, idols, authors, boyfriends, wives, etc. The ease in which the learning is received, in a large part, determines the lessons we learn and if we learn.

Non-Traumatic Learning: Right Brain Enhancing

Paints a Picture

Non-Traumatic learning is non-stressful, voluntary, lacks restrictive boundaries, is curiosity and discovery driven and mentor supported. It is nearly always effective, has predictable outcomes and rarely includes unwanted triggers and behaviors. It is dependent on learner resources, both internal and external, their cognitive experience and what the mentor demonstrates, not what they say.

This type of experiential learning, fosters critical thinking, synthesizing, integrative and a global perspective mindset. Lucid and contextual learning and memory storage and retrieval systems, allow for an assimilating learning construct and a discerning, curious, creative, actively engaged life long learner.

Memory: Best when processed in the right mind non-traumatically

Information appears to be stored, recalled, and utilized best when multiple, sensed object-data are associated together with emotions and feelings, grouped with other associations into symbolic forms, interpreted, and defined within a personal, social, world, and spiritual context.

Learned information is stored in the brain, when and where possible in proximity to other, similar, sensory information, which in turn statistically defines the general storage areas of the brain.

Our brains remain plastic throughout our lives, and to the extent that we have access to the preferred and active pathways of learning we can continue to easily assimilate new learning. Neurons within the brain, whether dedicated or not, are constantly being organized and reorganized under the control of the frontal areas of the cerebral cortex.

Awareness allows us to focus our Intention,

for Individual Choice and for Self-Reliance.

Because of this, learners can choose non-traumatic right mind enhancing learning, and when they do, they retain the power to accept or reject teachers and teacher-ideas, as well as to choose learning resources and mentors within the limits of availability. The over reliance on perceived authority figures, rules and externally provided constructs is indicative of left mind dominant individuals. Mentors and learners are volitionally attracted to those with similar learning styles.

Traumatic Learning: Left Brain Enhancing

Verbally instructs

Traumatic learning situations are stressful, involuntary, and usually limited by design or circumstances. Traumatic learning is dependent on presentation, control, and how the teacher, usually orally, interprets what is happening to the student. Traumatic learning is almost always effective, although the majority of what is actually learned is unpredictable and almost inevitably includes many unwanted triggers and behaviors.

Traumatic learning is essential to our growth from the time we are born. Life is fraught with upset and trials, that themselves propel us to higher levels of awareness and an enhanced appreciation and experience of life. However if this type of learning is the dominant form in ones life, and Non-Traumatic learning has not been sufficient to adequately build the right brains synthesizing circuitry, ones access to their higher cognitive apparatus and heightened states of awareness will be lessened.

When a person lacks access to the higher imaginative and intuitive powers of their right mind, they necessarily rely on the analytical abilities of their left mind. Language, defining, comparing and an eye for the particular fosters a mentality of focusing on the external environment and believing in only what they can sensually perceive. Survival, security and safety needs are necessarily emphasized over their creative, learning and growth needs.

Counter to the integrating circuits that the right mind creates, the singular data streams of the left mind actively creates Loops of Thought Patterns” and “Programs of Pattern Recognition”.

The left mind creates these circuits that run automatically and can interpret large volumes of incoming information with minimal attention or thought. These allow for assumptive, generalized predictions of how one should think, feel or act based upon pre-determined looped experience, thus enabling the left mind to cope absent the intuitive powers of the right mind. Left mind dominant individuals become more easily overwhelmed and display lower levels of resistance to internal and external stressors, including biological immune stressors, resulting in more dis-ease.

Choice is, if at all, a very late component of traumatic learning. Choice, focused intention, and self-reliance, while all assumed to be under ones own control, is largely an illusion for the left mind dominant traumatic learner.

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