Cognitive Neurology and Educational Psychology
Cerebrum and Education. Essential Principles of Cognitive Neurology. Principles of Cerebrum Organization. Hypothetical model of cognitive function of the cerebrum. The model of phase mastering. Intellectual faculties as predicates of successful education.
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Cognitive Neurology and Educational Psychology
1. Cerebrum and Education. Essential Principles of Cognitive Neurology
The XX-th century introduced a lot of valuable things for the money box of fundamental knowledge about the man's cerebrum. A part of this knowledge has found adaptation in medicine, but it is not enough comparatively used in education. Man like an individual has already used the achievements of fundamental cerebral science. Man as a member of society has too little `profit' both for himself and society, that is connected in great extent with conservatism of public principles and lead to difficulties of formation common language between sociology and neurophysiology. It means that it is using up the achievements in regularity of cerebral study from neurophysiologic language into acceptable form of education.
1.1 Main Questions of Didactics to Neurology
education cognitive neurology cerebrum
Each pedagogue knows: his teaching effects on man's brain. But the majorities of didactic methods are still more intuitive and depend on first hand, circumstances and are often used by guess-work and by trial and error. What happens with cerebrum during the education? What happens by memorization of names, dates and surnames? By acquiring habits: in reading, dancing and painting. How the different capability to education is explained? How the young cerebrum is developing and how it is educating at a mature age? Modern neurology studying still can't give irrefragable answer on such questions. At the same time, didactics as a theory of studying obviously is built on knowledge of structure and cerebrum's functions - especially on those facts, which explain phenomena of studying and memory. However, specialists still have no any possibilities to rest upon knowledge of mechanisms and principles by which the cerebrum is working. We have to be satisfied with facts, which are interpreted simplistically (at best without distortions) by popular publications.
Only recently, on boundary of XXI century, an international project `Cerebrum and Education' was developed. It's main aim - make neurology science accessible for experts of education. The project joins scientists from all over the world. Russia has to participate in this extremely important work.
At the same time, MUH began to investigate a question about main problem - to search approaches, which allow projecting educational technologies on basis of modern knowledge about structure and functions of cerebrum. MUH created specialized scientific structure - ICN (Institute of Cognitive Neurology). As a matter of fact, develops new line in neurology science: if modern science about cerebrum to a great extent answer on the question `how to treat', end the main aim of cognitive neurology is to try to understand `how to teach'. The wide spectrum of investigations is necessary - from molecular-genetic to systematic, that's why the integration with top-level specialists in neurology is so important. Raw scientific projects have already cooperated with leading scientific institutions, such as: Institute of Man's Cerebrum (RAS), SNIC of Preventive Medicine (RAMS), the Biological Faculty of MSU, Psychology Institution (RAS), Neurocybernetic Institution of Rostov State University. The project, which helped to create the base for laboratory, in common with Institute of Man's Cerebrum (RAS), was successfully finished. Its scientific adviser had become an academician Natalia Behtereva. The aim of this chapter is to give specialists in education the cerebrum principles of work. This information would help to tell about researches of (ÈÊÍ) MUH, results of which we can apply on practice.
1.2 Principles of Cerebrum Organization
Experts in education, first of all, are interested in man's cerebrum - super difficult and perfect organ, which is a top of evolution. But principles of cerebrum work on all levels of evolution are common.
Different parts of cerebrum play its specific role in information processing, its retention to obtain and use it in different kind of activities. Coordination structures and parts of cerebrum, which carry out any functions, is nothing else, but functioning system, which is formed by dozen milliards of neurons. These neurons are extremely difficult but normalized in its coordination.
Neuron - is a building block of cerebrum. Synapse - is a structural unit of memory. Man's Central Nervous System (CNS) consists of milliards nerve cells - neurons. Neuron is lot like many other sells of our organism. At the same time neuron has some peculiarities, which provide its main functions: to assume, to process and transfer information.
Neurons are distinguished from each other by form, size, chemical composition and functions. To this very day revealed about 200 different forms of it. Nevertheless, all neurons have one basic structure.
Each neuron consists of soma (agent) and numerous branchy shoots. There are two types of shoots: dendrites and axon. The main task of dendrites is to accept signals from receptors and other neurons.
Neurons can have from one dendrite to thousands branchy shoots, on witch from one to hundred thousands of synaptic contacts with other neurons are formed. Cells integrate the information and transmit it by solitary fibre - axon. Axon in its turn transmits stimulation to other neuron or to working organ (muscle, gland). The length of axon could be less than millimeter or could mount to several tens of centimeters (it depends on the function, which neuron performs and its axon).
One of the main properties of neuron - stimulated or generated with Action Potential (AP). Main role in stimulation play ion channels, which penetrate neuron's membrane.
Ion channels could be of two kinds. Some of them work constantly and provide concentration difference between potassium and natrium ions inside or outside the sell. As a result of it, negative potential (about -70 mV) is supported in neuron's membrane. By stimulation neuron through other neuron channels, natrium ions are directed towards cell hence membrane gets positive shot (about + 55 mV). Thus absolute value of AP is about 125 mV.
Then stimulation or AP is extended along the axon. Axon makes for another neuron (or other cell - muscular, ferriferous etc.) and makes a contact with taking cell or synapse. In the picture 4.2 is showed synapse scheme under the modern ideas of neuroscience. In spite of diminutiveness, synapse structure is quiet complicated. One of its main components is bubbles, which contain biologically active substance - neurotransmitter or mediator (transmitter).
The stimulation in synapse is changing from electro pulse into chemical pulse and then again into electric.
When nerve impulse (stimulation) reaches synapse, ion channels are opening on presynaptic membrane and passing calcium ions through transmission neuron. Calcium cooperates with synaptic membrane of bubbles (mediator is kept in them) and they push out the mediator into synaptic chink (space is dividing transmission and perceptive membrane of neurons). Then molecules contact with receptors (receptors are arranged in such a way that apprehend only `its own' type of mediator, vividly speaking, mediator and receptor are matched each other like a key to a lock).
Complicated diversity of reactions is appeared after the contact between mediator and receptor, which change potential on membrane of `perceptive' neuron. Further is forming Stimulant Postsynaptic Potential (SPSP) or Brake Postsynaptic Potential (BPSP). Correspondingly, either `perceptive' neuron is stimulating to pass impulse further or is hindering to block further expansion of stimulation. Synapses could be compared with a crossroad on the conductive ways of brain. The role of `traffic-controllers', which determine the rout of nerve impulse, play mediators. To present day is known more than 60 chemical agents, which perform functions of mediators. The most popular among them are catecholamine (dopamine, noradrenalin, adrenalin), serotonin and ã amibutyric acid (GABA).
Neurons perform all their functions together. The idea of work of milliards nerve cells is that they get signals from other nerve cells and transmit it to the third nerve cells. Transmission and perceptive cells are united into nerve chains or nets. Single neuron could send signals to thousands or even more quantity of neurons (usually one neuron connects with only some definite neurons). Just as any neuron could accept information from other neurons with the help of one or several admission connections. All depend on what net the cell turns out in process of development.
At any moment, a great number of neurons are in the active state - each composition of active neurons complies with concrete type of psychological work. New compositions of working neurons are forming during the education, exactly; they are stirring up on actualization of learning knowledge.
In that way, we can definitely say, that “knowledge” is coding in neuron compounds. This means that an education is the result of growth new synapses, or of weaken already existent synapses. Neuropsychology has facts, which confirm these mechanisms. One of these mechanisms is working at an early age; the second is in middle age of cerebrum.
During the education, the opening structural changes of neurons allowed intending, that decisive role in formation of permanent memory is playing synthesis of proteins, growth and change of neuron connections. At a present time, this hypothesis is confirmed by convincing information.
This implies that any new permanent knowledge leads to the cerebral structure modification. Continuing this idea, we can plan outstanding shave: by the cerebrum's structure we can judge about the volume of man's knowledge and its level of education. The development of this idea acquires, first of all, perfections and development new methods of cerebrum's research.
Total electrical activity of cerebrum. Central part among objective methods of researching man's mental functions takes up different methods of registration total electrical activity of cerebrum.
Neuron's synaptic activity is reflected in electrical processes, which are registered on the surface of scalp (Electroencephalogram, EEG), namely postsynaptic potentials: stimulated (SPSP) and bracketed (BPSP). These potentials are summarizing and the result is reflected as electrical waves of EEG.
Electrical meaning of neuron is doublet, orientation poles of which are changing, depending on the state of neuron. Doublet “is revolving” while interchange of stimulated and bracketed states, making bipolar electromagnetic waves in nerve tissue. These waves are enlarged upon the volume of nerve tissue in all directions with definite fading away degree; witch depends on physical property of installing environment (it includes not only neuron-doublets, blood vessels, glia but intercellular liquid with dissolved organic and nonorganic substances in it).
Cerebrum has rather complicated structure because neuron-doublets are arranged heterogeneously in orientation of its polar and have different consistence. Besides, potential configuration depends on arrangement of registered electrodes. That's why an interpretation of registered signals on the top of cerebrum is a difficult task.
Synchronization of a quantity neuron-doublets is expressed in domination either one or another frequencies in EEG.
Separate rhythms are distinguished by the criteria of frequency in EEG, which are connected with different functional states of man and animals.
Alpha rhythm was always attracted an intense attention among researches, dominating rhythm EEG rest of waking man.
There are a lot of estimates connected with the meaning of alpha rhythm. N. Winner - founder of cybernetics - and other researches considered that this rhythm functions as a temporary scanning (“reading”) of information and closely connected with mechanisms of perception and memory. It is proposed that alpha rhythm reflects reverberation of stimulation, which is coding intracerebral information and making optimal background for the process of reception and processing signals. It can stabilize original functioning of cerebra's state and provide willingness of response. There is supposition that alpha rhythm is bound up with working mechanisms of brain - it's some kind of resonant filters, which regulate the stream of sensory impulses.
There are also other rhythmical compounds in the state or rest in EEG, but their work is clarified in changing functional state of organism. Thus, delta rhythm in rest of healthy man is practically absent, but it dominates in EEG in the fourth stage of sleep (hence its name: “delta sleep”).
Theta rhythm is sometimes called stress rhythm or rhythm of tension. One of man's EEG symptoms of emotional tension is intensify theta rhythm with frequency fluctuation 4-7 Hz, both, when we have negative or positive emotions.
Beta rhythm doesn't have a single functional meaning. Mostly, wave's intensification of frequency range is simply caused by deceleration of alpha and delta waves.
Transfer from rest state to tension is accompanied by the reaction of dealigment, i.e. high-frequency of beta activity prevails in EEG. Man's mental work is accompanied by increased power of beta rhythm; it's interesting that intensification of high-frequency is observed in mental work, which includes something new, while stereotyped recurring mental operations are accompanied with its lowering.
Gamma rhythm under modern conception reflects the process of relations establishment or synchronization between spatial spaced neurons, which are involved in realization of any cognitive program.
High-frequency rhythms (beta and gamma) are usually growing during the realization of cognitive functions - attention, perception, memory, making a decision. That's why their quantitative indexes could be used in investigation of these functions. But we ought to remember, that correlation not at all means imperative presence of cause-effected relations.
As a whole it's significant that EEG is rather “rough” instrument for psychophysical research. EEG mainly reflects “energy” compounds of cognitive work and basic mechanisms of cerebra's work (it is maintaining the level of wake and providing vital biological functions). High mental functions are accomplished by different electrographic effects, but could be mistakenly understood as “markers” of these or that mental acts.
The most simple visual analyze of EEG is mainly used in clinical practice. It based on the large phenomenological material. Clinical of experience could reveal by EEG barely perceptible deflections of cerebra's electric activity from “norm”.
Mathematician methods of spectral analyze are used in scientific practice for analyzing EEG. A number of rated indices are showed on the base of power spectrum, which is extended substantial interpretation of bioelectrical phenomenon.
Functional selections of cerebrum. Basic mechanism of study is forming complicated distributed neuron's nets, which are uniting different functional selections of the cerebrum.
The cerebrum is consisting of rotting part and of two hemispheres. Both cerebral hemispheres are joined by ligament of nerve fibers, which provide hemispheric interchange of information. Each hemisphere is divided into several parts, which are specializing on implementation of different tasks: frontal part is responsible for planning operations, temporal - for ear and memory, parietal - for spatial treatment of information, cervical - for eye's functions. It's clear that it is only common characteristics. Each sphere of brain has its own interconnected systems of neurons, which influence on different kinds of information. Any intellectual skills, such as arithmetic calculation or memorization of terms, are depending on coordination of many specialized systems, which are situated in different parts of brain. Damage of any of these neuron systems would upset acquired habit, or make it impossible to acquire.
At the same time, majority of neurons are interconnected functionally, i.e. one neuron could be responsible for realization of many problems, but then it could be readdressed for providing the other function.
All cortical and non cortical parts of cerebrum are participating in memorization and studying, i.e. an attempt is nonsensically to localize “knowledge” into the definite field. At the same time, each concrete type of education is touching upon definite neuron's population and is effecting on neighboring cells. In that way, tracks of memory could cover large fields of brain, but theirs substratum is highly specific, so could be amenable to education.
The cerebrum is in need of the definite level of common or nonspecific activation to perform its functions.
Activating and braking structures, relatively on its own, are being existent on different brain's levels. They come with each other into complicated systems of mutual relations, thus they form regulation block of tone and wake. Ascending activating system of mesencephalon, thalamus system and other structures are concerning to this regulation block. It's considered that, the cerebra's peculiarities of nonspecific or modulator systems in many respects are defining the individuality and also including an individual capability of education. Obviously, even the best schemes and algorithms of education wouldn't give proper effect without taking into account the factor of individuality. It is hard to find an example in the world practice of high school, which would reveal sound and logical individualization of education.
Original typology of cognitive abilities was developed in MUH. It is based on level's dimension of intellectual development and speed of memorization. Proper methods and algorithms of mass testing were found. All that is underlining in the system base of differential didactic, which gives a chance to every student to choose individual educational system and to attain its best in practice. System's elaboration of the differential didactic would demand more theoretical and experimental researches, but by now it is necessary to realize its main principle in education: to give a person free regime and opportunity to choose necessarily reiterations of studies.
Further development of differential didactic is provided for researches, which are connected with the objective mark of functional student's state and the search of individual psycho- physiological characteristics, how to be successful in learning.
1.3 Differential Psychophysiology
The results of any man's activity are depending on his functional state, including teaching. If we were oriented on functional state and made studying load more intensive or conversely, the results of education would be much better. All this is evident. It's rather hard to find criterion, which would allow impartially estimate the functional state - the criterion should be simply systematic and theoretically quantitative.
Appraisal of functional state in many respects comes to level's appraisal of nonspecific cerebra's activation, against a background of which the concrete mental activity is proceeding, including cognitive.
Dependence between level's activation and affectivity of activities, including education, is known. It is showed as cupola-shaped curve: its best results are achieved not by the highest activation, but by its middle range, which is called optimum functional state.
If the work effectiveness was given in to quantitative estimation, the level of background brain's activation wouldn't have still estimated. The method to estimate individual level of brain's activation was, for the first time, elaborated in MUH.
It's known, that changes of nonspecific brain's activation are reflected in drastic changes of Electroencephalogram, i.e. these changes of frequency and amplitude operational factors of EEG are generated from external stimulation. Particularly, this effect of EEG alpha-rhythm could emerge during the mental workload (alpha-rhythm depression). For objective estimation of alpha-rhythm degree of depression was suggested quantitative criterion - coefficient of depression of alpha-rhythm (CDA).
CDA could be expressed by this formula:
CDA = (P¹ - P²) ÷ P¹ × 100, (4.1)
P¹ is the average power of alpha-range by all leads of EEG in good fettle with closed eyes;
P² is the average power of alpha-range by all leads of EEG by mental workload.
Researches in MUH have showed, that CDA was too individual and was enough sorted with cognitive characteristics e.g. with the speed of memorization of verbal material.
Quantitative approach to nonspecific cerebra's activation gave rise to researches; the results of witch now could be applied in educational practice.
Individual level of cerebra's activation and speed of memorization. Methods of accurate measurement of educational speed are essential to estimate objectively the educational success. Fundamentally new quantitative characteristic - Rate of Knowledge Learning (RLK) was developed in Institute of Educational Psychology of MUH. This idea and first approach are belonging to Professor M. Karpenko. Volunteer should learn 20 couples of words by heart (unknown word - Russian translation). Calculation of RLK index needs to take account of memorized new words and the time it takes. In other words, an individual RLK index is defining the number of new links, witch this volunteer is able to learn in one academic hour.
Hence next question: which individual cerebra's behavior is defining individual speed of memorization? Experiments have proved that rapid memory characteristics intimately connected with individual level of nonspecific cerebra's activation.
EEG volunteers are registered both, in good fettle and in process of memorizing 20 words. Then CDA was calculated. It turned out, that value of RLK index definitely sort with CDA (i.e. with depression of alpha-rhythm during the workload). Next pattern is turning out: for high RLK there is mean, “optimal” CDA; lowering RLK index is correlating with decrease or increase of CDA.
In that way, ratio between indexes RLK and CDA is congruent with domelike curve, which display the dependence of education successfulness from nonspecific cerebra's activation. This means the method was turned out well. It shows how to measure individual level of activation and to forecast individual tempo of education.
Besides, it is obvious, that the slow tempo of learning could have opposed reasons: deficient or redundant activation of brain. It's clear that pedagogical tactics should be different in these two cases. In the first case, is needed an “activating method” and in the second, it's necessary to reach drop of activation to its optimal level. In the next experiments, which describe phenomenon of mental tiredness, effect of optimization worked well. Effect of such optimization was traced in the next experiments, which were devoted to phenomenon of mental tiredness.
Quantitative assessment of mental tiredness. Mental tiredness - is an important factor, which restricts man's capabilities in the process of education. Specialists in different areas of science, such as physiologists, doctors, psychologists, and professors are studying mechanisms of mental tiredness and look for means of its diagnostics. But in spite of many researches, the nature of mental tiredness is not studied yet.
The development of mental tiredness includes psychological, physiological and biochemical mechanisms. Te definition of mental tiredness as a standard set of data was failed. Besides, sufficiently even mental tiredness is productive, as it activates reserved cerebra's possibilities. In other words, mental tiredness influences on the speed and mastering of learning material positively.
Mental tiredness phenomenon is usually researched on the model of operative work or other kind of monotonous work. Researches, which were held in MUH, are different. There was used natural routine kind of mental workload, which was - a long work on a computer.
Method of the experiment was including EEG record and psychological testing: it estimated the level of reactive anxiety, concentration of attention, the volume of operative memory and speed of memorization (RLK index). All these measurements were taken before and after 4-houred work on the computer (text editing).
It turned out, that EEG alpha-rhythm is growing, but CDA is falling during the mental tiredness. Other way, mental tiredness is connected with falling initial level of cerebra's activation. This means, that superfluous activation, witch impeded to education, could be eliminated. Only long mental workload could arouse tiredness. Experiments, in the course of which stimulating effect of mental tiredness was opened, were devoted to the checking of this hypothesis. Probationers with superfluous brain's activation had such an effect. After intensive mental workload, their alpha-rhythm was rising and CDA was falling. It is because of mental tiredness, which was returning cerebrum into the zone of “optimal functional state”. Growing regime of studying load during the day is needed for such students: several days of intensive work and one day with total rest. Such recommendations, probably, contradict to the usual requirement everyday work, but they are proved physiologically, that's why it is very important to identify such students already on the entrance testing.
Definition of individual level of activation on terms of mass testing. EEG for mass testing is too bulky. In MUH was developed reductive method for measuring nonspecific activation, which was based on principles of pulsimeter variation (hardware-controlled complex “Pulsar-A”).
Work of hardware-controlled complex “Pulsar-A” is based on well known method of pulsimeter variation, in which two main pulse's parameters are analyzed mathematically: frequency and variability. First device modification of “Pulsar-A” was developed by MUH specialists for the express-evaluation of functional possibilities, efficiency and portability of physical and mental load.
Hardware-controlled complex “Pulsar-A” estimates the level of non-specific activation during the mass testing. In comparison with other devices, which are using method of pulsimeter variation, “Pulsar-A” has some essential advantages. First of all, it is well adapted to the system of mass researches: it is simple in use, doesn't need the presence of the specialist, and is integrated into the info media of MUH. All data about each student is automatically kept on the server and is automatically cultivated. Besides, hardware-controlled complex “Pulsar-A” is working in regime of expert system: individual results are automatically summarized, compared with normative and form individual conclusion. Each student belongs to one of five groups. It's easy to get data about all students of each educational institution, providing researches regularly.
Testing process is extremely simple. Electro optical sensor is fixing on the probationer's forefinger. During two minutes pulse-wave is recording. Then the student is getting his own results. Printout contains common results of functional possibilities and efficiency. It also includes recommendations about physical and mental loads.
Calculation activities are necessary for work of expert system and are intended for specialists. They do not appear on display, but are immediately sent into informational system for the next elaboration. For changing individual level of nonspecific activation, was developed modification, which was called “Pulsar-K”. It could compare parameters of pulse in two situations: in quiescent state and in mental tiredness.
Recording is making into two phases. First, it's making without any instructions. Second, probationer should calculate the quantity of curve's tops on the monitor, besides; the results of testing depend on the accuracy of calculation.
Acceleration, deceleration or absences of pulse's changes are possible. Pulse's deceleration during mental tiredness is evidence of high level activity which leads to extension perceptible and cultivated information. Pulse's acceleration means “avoidance of reaction”, cognitive activity is lowed; the volume of perceptible and cultivated information is minimized. Absence of changes is an optimal level for mental activation.
Thus, method of pulsimeter variation, which is realized in hardware-controlled complex “Pulsar-K”, defines an individual level of activation without expensive and bulky procedure of EEG.
Diagnostic of individual activation level becomes an important part of studying. Methods of purposeful influence on individual level of cerebra's activation must be developed paralleled. Opened phenomenon “inability to the mastery learning” is the result of the importance of such work, which is confirmed by the results of the researches.
Model of “mastery learning” in the context of psychophysiology. Modern educational technologies are based on the model of “mastery learning”. Innovation of such technologies guarantees everybody the achievement of result in studying.
In the base of the model “mastery learning”, there are ideas, which were put forward by American psychologist Bloom B.S. He supposed that dispersal progress in studies is the cause of dispersal of abilities to the education. That's why constant fixed parameter of learning must be exactly the result. All the other parameters of education must be changed, building to achievements by all students before given result. First of all it's necessary to reject from common averaged educational temp and to exceed the limits of learning the material.
All this means that by using building educational programs and index of educational plans “the time of learning material”, usually mean its mastery learning.
Plain EEG could be also met with neuroses, asthenic states and such diseases as metabolic cerebra's circulation of the blood and thyroid gland (the chances of these states are raising at age).
Besides, the effect of depression alpha-rhythm of probationers, who are not capable to “mastery learning”, was modified. Thus, the falling of amplitude's alpha-rhythm during mental work load was practically absentee or was 3-5 times longer in comparison with norm.
All the EEG peculiarities have common neurobiological “denominator”: breach functions of activating cerebra's systems. The reasons of such dysfunction could be individual peculiarities of nerve system, functional disorder or somatic illnesses. In the final analysis - increase of anxiety is leading to disorder of cognitive function.
One point of dysfunction of activating cerebra's systems - is breach sense of time. Inclination for significant “pressure” of time demonstrated all the probationers, who are disable to whole memorizing. This means that these probationers are lacking of time, while learning and it is leading to growing emotional tensity.
Thus, breach of whole memorizing presents external manifestation of multilevel, system process.
Neurobiological base of process - is the misbalance of activating cerebra's systems, which are caused by individual qualities of nerve system, functional disorder or somatic disease. Age factor plays predisposed role, i.e. contributes to manifestation and increases misbalance of systems of nonspecific regulation.
Idem multilevel should be the system of pressure, which allows reaching the mastery learning.
Main parameters, which increase memorization, are:
- functional state (balance of activating cerebra's systems);
- individually-typological qualities (especially anxiety);
- cognitive characteristics (first of all, indexes of attention and memory).
People with surplus activation of brains should avoid stressful situations and give preference to individual lessons. At the same time “taking down temporary limitations” as a main principle of “mastery learning” it is necessarily to test knowledge, when emotional tension is really high. Exams should be like training attempt as it weakens stressful factor.
Decrease of attention concentration, worsening of mechanic memory make up for raising the structureredness of learning material thanks to using logical schemes and system of prompting.
Elder groups need special didactic methods, which provide not only compensation of age-specific lowering of cognitive functions, but also high motivation, self-dependence, standard of living etc.
Specificity of education for adults is the theme for original science, called andragogika. One of its priority directions could be adaptation of distance educational technologies to adult's education. Useful theoretical and experimental work in the field of age-specific physiology and psychology are conducted in MUH.
Also it is necessarily a special research of the phenomenon “disability to mastery learning”. The first attempt has already showed that difficulties in education, especially among elders, made for functional mechanisms, which could be well corrected. Researches in this direction would help to review and supplement the model of “mastery learning” and also innovation educational technologies based on it.
Theoretical models of cognitive functions are still stay relevant for educational practice. It would be up to that moment, when it would be clear, how the cerebrum is recording and recalling the information and how, in fact, it works. One of such models was developed in MUH (former - Professor M. Karpenko), which allows not only describe cognitive phenomenon, but use them as a methodological way of optimization the process of education.
1.4 Hypothetical model of cognitive function of the cerebrum
The main idea of the model is “homunculus” (of man). This term was widely used in theoretical constructions of psychology by such researchers as A. Luria, Y. Nicer, D. Dennet, M Pozner etc.
In this context homunculus is interpreted like inside observer, which consists of neurotic elements and presents the model of remaking information by people. Homunculus is the area of real convergence of sensory and other kinds of information and its activity is linked with processes of perception and memorization.
Duality of the idea of the resistance of homunculus is underscored in the model as:
- mechanism's observer of analyzing itself , on which signals are converging about incoming afferention, signals of extraction from memory steps;
- concurrently sources of analyzed and cultivated information for the rest of cerebrum;
- two-sided hypothetic relations included in appraisal of cerebra's state ( the level of activation, the level of perception).
This model is based on three homunculus in the form of cognitive system: sensory, conscious, subconscious, which “manage” processes of people's knowledge. Each of them includes in its structure components of thinking, memory and management (regulation).
All three homunculus could be viewed as:
- equitable elements;
- elements, which hierarchically rebuild relations in process of learning and according to problems, which cerebrum is solving (some kind of universal adequate act);
- elements of collateral subordination
- Elements of unification into “super-homunculus” (probably, in conditions of exceptionally high psychological activity, stress, fit of creative activity, intuition, or even by change of consciousness).
Algorithm of model's work - is the interaction of cognitive homunculus (including means “subordinate” them) and reciprocation of informational flows. Each of them is performing specific functions within the limits of education.
Hypothetic “sphere” of the first homunculus. First homunculus, the base of which is the censored register of memory, presents “subconscious stage” of thinking. Its main function is concluded in fast response on stimulus of environment, because time of elaboration and change is coming of a split second. For this operation first homunculus uses “fast on-line storage”, which is lasting a long time and keeping prototypes, contexts etc. “Buffer” is “momentary memory”, which includes iconic, echo, tactile and others.
Identification of fancy takes place in censored register. Comparison the last with standards, which are kept in long-term memory, is happening in fast on-line storage. In this case “decision” by identification is receiving by homunculus, which realizes the function of management.
Hypothetic “sphere” of the second homunculus. The second homunculus is belonging to the system of consciousness. It is solving cognitive problems already on the rational level. It uses formally-logic and reflexive means in realization the problems and also forms “inquiries” into long-term memory with the aim to receive necessary information. This homunculus includes two “buffers”: short-term memory, the base of which is repeating and occasional memory, where the information from the long-term memory is keeping.
Occasional memory is used through on-line storage, on which is kept necessary data from long-term memory to consciousness: addresses, evaluative norms and rules. “Consciousness” homunculus plays searching role. Its aim to find vital information, but for its estimation homunculus should attract abundant supplies of long-term memory. Consciousness - is explorer, consciousness - is our “I”, but in deed its intellectual role is smallish, function of thinking and taking strategic decisions are not related with it. Consciousness is carrying out fast management, its main advantage in quickness rather than in quality.
Hypothetic “sphere” of the third homunculus. The second homunculus, which is related with the system of subconsciousness, regulates the process of making decisions on the subconscious level and controls permanent memory. Subject to concrete conditions, subconsciousness could provide standby mode, addresses and provide data to “conscious bloc” of model. Homunculus role in cognitive model could be compared with underwater part of iceberg, only insignificant part of which is on the surface - conscious (formally-logical and reflexive) component.
Conscious system of the model “orders” to a greater extent short-term (“materially developed”) memory and voluntary attention. Subconscious system of the model “orders” long-term (“potential”) memory and involuntary attention. We can not ignore, that these functions are realized in active and passive, evident and cryptic, figurative and censored and other forms of memory. This implies that any new knowledge must be deliberate (even in spite of wishes), but it became the same, when consciousness “writes” it in long-term memory and gives it code and address (ties-association). Knowledge must be “written” into fixed “folder”, it is subjected to identification, differentiation and systematization. In essence, it is thinking.
Thinking could be qualified. Man's cerebrum has advantage in search regularities in comparison with animal's cerebrum and this allows people to foresee the development of situations. Thinking, management organism's functions are distrust to consciousness. For example, tachycardia, maintenance of blood pressure, the process of digestion, sweating etc are performed unknowingly. Some pedagogues fondly claim that they teach children how to think. This is just as impossible as to teach peristalsis of entrails or to maintain equilibrium.
Cognitive model logically enough explains explicit (“evident”) and implicit (“concealed”) types of education. Formally-logic and reflexive means and conscious repetition are developing in explicit form, but in implicit form, connection between censored register and subconscious elements of model are on the first place. In other words, the second construction is the way of education, “ignoring” consciousness, i.e. it develops connection between censored registers, which are using different kinds of momentary memory (iconic, echo, tactile etc) and subconsciousness.
Cognitive model of the cerebrum explains some known phenomenon, for example, poet's inspiration is explained by work of consciousness and subconsciousness.
Humor is joint use of classifications with different features and so on.
Division of cognitive process into three cognitive systems is carrying substantial commitments: it provides structural and functional elements of cognitive system of man and also defines optimum level, on which didactic influence on trainees in real conditions is effective.
In other words, knowledge as getting information and final cognitive result could be formed on the unconscious level. Its reflexive-innovational forms are working on the level of consciousness:
- in the first case, teaching elements are computer technologies as teaching programs with feedback;
- in the second case, teaching elements are practical, role and organizationally-functioning components.
It is naturally, that above-mentioned educational methods should be combined, but they are divided with the object to build educational process correctly. Realization of this method is contributing progress more high productivity in educational process on all its levels.
1.5 The model of phase mastering
Mechanisms, which were described by cognitive model, could be used practically. Thus, to produce system (model) of phase mastering (former - Professor M. Karpenko), which would define correlation of neurophysiologic mechanisms and principles of forming learning process.
The first phase of mastering - is impressing. On the neurophysiologic level, the first mastering phase includes process generalized activation of cerebrum - “draft” neuronet is forming, which is combining an abundant number of neurons. In that way, dominant cognitive motivation is forming, this defines readiness to mastering.
On psychological, level new knowledge is recording into long-term memory in the form of some oily construction. In didactic plan, trainee forms understanding of new material, concepts and theirs necessity in his\her future profession.
On impressing phase, MUH is using educational arrangements, the aim of witch to form abstract vivid introduction for establishment associative relations.
The second phase of mastering - is memorizing, which is characterized by frequent learning of new information (stimulus). Recurring information of stimulus is forming new neuronet, new synapses on different levels of cerebrum. On this level, realization of knowledge construction and algorithm of skills are forming and also they transfer from common parts of long-term memory to on-line storage. Trainee is concretizing its understanding of original introduction, which was received on the phase of impressing and also he is trying to memorize details and master algorithms of skills.
MUH is organizing arrangements, which are belonging to this phase and are traditionally called “zarubejka” - that means to study units, to fulfill tasks by glossary and algorithmic education, to work individually with slide lections and computer training with the help of educational computer programs and to prepare to exams.
The third step of education - is the phase of authorization. The authorization is “appropriation” of knowledge and including it into its own experience. The heart of the problem is that student demonstrates his knowledge in social sphere, keeps an eye on the listener's reaction and critics etc.
Then comes the phase of initiation: the demonstration of stored knowledge (exams, defence of diploma etc.).
Neurophysiologic and psychological processes are analogous in phases of authorization and initiation. “Editing” of neuronet takes place thanks to moving away surplus synaptic contacts, training main channels of passing nerve impulses, and hardening of neoronet due to cerebra's mechanisms of corroboration (positive emotions). All that stimulates automatism and speed of brain's work, i.e. it is fast extraction wanted knowledge from long-term memory.
Didactic process for these phases is common - that is presentation to students learned knowledge in socium, but training process is different. Thus, the phase of authorization includes educational arrangements, which are allowing to students to demonstrate and apply received knowledge (business games, term papers and tests, practice etc) and are giving mark of progress to inform student, i.e. management of educational process: to find “gaps” of given knowledge, which could occur as a result of misunderstanding, truancies etc.
The phase of initiation includes only those arrangements which are specially directed on the result of education, which is fixed documental. This document (examination list, diploma, certificate and so on) is an official certificate of recognition of the level of student's knowledge by society (by examination commission or another representative).
Time shortening of learning new material due to “skipping” of the phases of memorizing or authorization is the aim of many pedagogues' innovations: hypoxemia, the use of the “effect of the 25-th still”, problematic education, environment of education, learning in process of work…
The more studied from the psychological side are the training methods of education, in the base of which lays consecution of phases with repetitions. The more actively they were studied in 30-40-th years of the XX century. Curves of education were organized; the experiments with repetition were studied with learning by heart fully or partly.
Researches of alternative variants of education (provide for consecution of phases) give moot results because of non coordination in explanation of nature of phenomena.
Knowledge of consecutive mastering gives precisely calculated didactic methods, which are cooperating to the optimization of learning.
1.6 Fundamental problems of cognitive neurology
Cognitive functions of cerebrum - is the most complicated area of neuroscience, where there are a lot of riddles and unsettled questions.
Nevertheless, MUH for today can give ideas, which could prove the development of scientific didactics.
1. Education causes the growth of new synapses - new contacts between nerve cells. This means, that preamble of any new long-term knowledge is modifying the structure of brain. Thus, we can judge about the amount of people's knowledge by the structure of the cerebrum.
2. The result of study depends on individual level of nonspecific brain's activation, which could be measured. Instrument of measuring - EEG; criterion - coefficient of depression of alpha-rhythm (CDA).
3. EEG-measuring of nonspecific level of activation could be changed into more simple procedure - pulsimeter.
4. Speed of learning is falling as there are two opposite reasons: insufficient or surplus activation of cerebrum.
5. Individual level of activation could be managed, it could be returned into optimal zone. Instruments of managing - regime of rising (falling) training load; training BFB (biological feedback).
6. Falling of level activation is in the base of mental tiredness.
7. It is good when mental tiredness is in surplus activation, as it lowers level of activation to optimal.
8. Commonly accepted model of “mastery learning” is needed in corrections, because there are people, who are not capable to mastery learning.
9. Incapacity to “mastery learning” - is the result of dysfunction of activating cerebra's systems. In elderly groups (after 40-ty years) is more frequently.
10. Because of dysfunction of activating system, the education is under the stress, which is caused by subjective lack of time.
11. Educational methods of elderly groups are more subjected to dysfunctions of activating systems. They should have much more practice before passing exams then others.
12. Models like “Hypothetic model of cognitive cerebra's functions” and “Model of phase knowledge learning” (author - Professor M. Karpenko) are relevant for practice of education. They could join neurophysiologic processes and principles of building educational process and could intend didactic ways.
There is a long list of fundamental problems which are worthy of notice and need special researches. First of all, it is a problem of brain's mechanisms of memory.
Last years, the problem of accumulation of information (learning) is kept (memory) in nerve system, which was studied more intensively then the questions of its recording (remembering). Mechanisms of the first two processes are becoming clearer. Nevertheless, the main question still remains unclear: what could be considered “carrier of memory” in the cerebrum”?
As to “remembering”, its neurophysiologic bases are still remaining a mystery. The structural change of neurons during education intended that the synthesis of proteins is playing main role in forming long-term memory. At present time this hypothesis is substantially researched. Thus, for recording scent of memory is used intricate change of biochemical transformations, which are necessarily for formation new synaptic contacts. But how is the search of newly formed synapses occurring during the recording scent of memory?
It must not be ruled out, that cerebrum is using its biochemical and electric qualities in different proportion, while performing operations of recording and reproduction. If scents of memory are happening “biochemically”, so theirs search and reproduction - are “electrically”. According to this hypothesis (author - Professor M. Karpenko), new concepts are recording as an idea forms, which unite concrete and abstract sides of new concept and phenomenon.
The cerebrum of man is recording information differently then computer. The cerebrum doesn't divide information on elementary units, transforming it into binary code. The cerebrum records not separate elements, but idea form in whole. The same is during reproduction: the cerebrum doesn't break useful information from different fragments, as the whole idea form obtains immediately. The unit of record in brain must be considered idea form. Additional confirmation of it gives a row of known neurophysiologic mechanisms, which reflects integrative principle of cerebra's work. Among them:
1) tuning analyzer - censored systems (vision, hearing, skin taction and so on) do not work passively. Its role in active location and choice of meaningful signals for current work;...
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