Friday, January 20, 2006

Aha! How We Learn Something New

Here's a look at how we learn something new, or more specifically, how we make new rules. In the test below, test subjects learned that bananas caused allergic reactions. But after they had learned that rule, they saw a surprising result. Bananas + mushrooms caused no allergies. The surprise result caused people to reevaluate the information, and then conclude that mushrooms were able to prevent allergy.

This sort of thinking is often the foundational for innovation. It's novelty-seeking with a purpose. Surprise is necessary to help us recognize a new pattern, consider a new idea or perspective, or make a new rule.

Not surprisingly, this kind of learning requires bilateral brain activation because of integration of information, and reframing of knowledge, and then specific involvement of the reflective right lateral prefrontal cortex.

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