Learning, Memory and Speech


                                Definition of LEARNING

1. the act or experience of one that learns

2. knowledge or skill acquired by instruction or study

3.modification of a behavioral tendency by experience (as exposure to conditioning)

How we Learn

  • 10% of what we READ
  • 20% of what we HEAR
  • 30% of what we SEE
  • 50% of what we SEE and HEAR
  • 70% of what is DISCUSSED with OTHERS
  • 95% of what we TEACH TO SOMEONE ELSE


  • The ability to learn and to establish new memories is fundamental to our very existence; we rely on memory to engage in effective actions, to understand the words we read, to recognize the objects we see, to decode the auditory signals representing speech, and even to provide us with a personal identity and sense of self.

How we learn

  • The mind is set up to process outside stimuli, to make sense of them, and to draw connections
  • Learning changes the physical structure of the brain through the process of continuous interactions between the learner and the external environment
  • Differences in human processing and performance have been found to be related to different brain structures and functioning
  • Greater perceptual development and learning occur in environments that are rich with stimuli and provide useful feedback in response to a learner’s efforts to act upon the environment
  • Learning is a process of drawing connections between what is already known or understood and new information.
  • People make connections and draw conclusions based on a sense of what they already know and have experienced
  • Learning can be viewed, in part, as a matter of encoding and storing information in memory, processing, categorizing and clustering material, and later retrieving this information to be applied at the appropriate times and situations
  • People can be seen as possessing a number of intelligences beyond the linguistic and logical-mathematical abilities typically emphasized in schools
  • We also know that individual learners process information differently while they are reading or making mathematical calculations,
    • Example:  Learners have processing differences that influence how they handle visual, and aural

Teachers and learning

  • A teacher is a window to knowledge
    • Question???
      • What makes a good teacher?
      • What makes a good student?
      • How can a teacher improve their ability to teach?
      • How can a student improve their ability to learn?


  • 1. the power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms
  • 2. the store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behavior or by recall and recognition

Different Types of memory

Scientists divide memory into categories based on the amount of time the memory lasts:

  • The shortest memories lasting only milliseconds are called immediate memories
  • Memories lasting about a minute are called working memories (AKA Short -Term Memory),
  • Memories lasting anywhere from an hour to many years are called Long-Term Memories.
  • Non-Declarative:
  • Skills like catching a baseball or riding a bicycle are a Non-Declarative memory because we perform those activities automatically, with no conscious recollection of how we learned the skills
  • Declarative:
  • Declarative memories, on the other hand, are memories of facts and events that we can consciously recall and describe verbally


  • Memory plays such as important and ubiquitous role that it is often taken for granted—the only time most people pay attention to their memory is when it fails, as too often happens through brain injury or disease

How we Remember

  • Synapses are the connections between nerve cells, and they are also the major site of information exchange and storage in the brain.
  • We now know that synapses can alter their effectiveness based on their activity, and that this phenomenon, known as synaptic plasticity

How we remember faces

This is what happens in a split second

  • The event of meeting said person starts out in immediate memory
  • Then spreads out in various modality-specific regions of the brain.
  • Reinforcement through attention caused the relationship between sight, sound, and context to consolidate into working memory in the prefrontal lobe.
  •  Further reinforcement through practice caused more consolidation, and the most critical relationships in the event (the name, the face, and the context) were tied together in the hippocampus.
  •  From there, the memory relationship is probably stored diffusely across the cerebral cortex
  • But research on the actual location of memory relationships is still inconclusive.

When things go wrong

Fragile X Syndrome: is a genetic condition involving changes in part of the X chromosome. It is the most common form of inherited intellectual disability (mental retardation) in boys.

Behavior problems associated with fragile X syndrome include:

  • Delay in crawling, walking, or twisting
  • Hand clapping or hand biting
  • Hyperactive or impulsive behavior
  • Mental retardation
  • Speech and language delay
  • Tendency to avoid eye contact

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome: is growth, mental, and physical problems that may occur in a baby when a mother drinks alcohol during pregnancy.

  • A baby with fetal alcohol syndrome may have the following symptoms:
    • Poor growth while the baby is in the womb and after birth
    • Decreased muscle tone and poor coordination
    • Delayed development and problems in three or more major areas: thinking, speech, movement, or social skills
    • Heart defects
  • Problems with the face, including:
    • Narrow, small eyes with large
    • Small head
    • Small upper jaw
    • Smooth groove in upper lip
    • Smooth and thin upper lip


  • The communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words

Language Quisition

  • The Language Acquisition Device (LAD) is a hypothetical brain mechanism that Noam Chomsky postulated to explain human acquisition of the syntactic structure of languageThe catch is that the human brain only keeps these grammar switches flipped for a few years.

This span of time when the switches are on is known as the "critical period," and if a child is not exposed to language during this time, he or she will never be able to develop language normally.

  • The other implication of the critical period is in second-language learning.
  •  Because young children are the most biologically adept at learning language, this is the best time in life to learn a second language.
  • At this age, children will easily pick up a number of languages presented at the same time.

 For adults, because the grammar switches have turned off, it is much more difficult to learn a new language.

Supporting evidence

  • Children learning to speak never make grammatical errors such as getting their subjects, verbs and objects in the wrong order.
  • If an adult deliberately said a grammatically incorrect sentence, the child would notice.
  • Children often say things that are ungrammatical such as ‘mama ball’, which they cannot have learnt passively.
  • Mistakes such as ‘I drawled’ instead of ‘I drew’ show they are not learning through imitation alone.
  • Chomsky used the sentence ‘colorless green ideas sleep furiously’, which is grammatical although it doesn’t make sense, to prove his theory: he said it shows that sentences can be grammatical without having any meaning, that we can tell the difference between a grammatical and an ungrammatical sentence without ever having heard the sentence before, and that we can produce and understand brand new sentences that no one has ever said before.

Against it

  • Critics of Chomsky’s theory say that although it is clear that children don’t learn language through imitation alone, this does not prove that they must have an LAD – language learning could merely be through general learning and understanding abilities and interactions with other people.


Stage 1:

  • This is where children say things for three purposes:
  • To get something they want
  • To get someone’s attention
  • To draw attention to something

Stage 2

  • This is when children usually ask questions, “where” questions come first. Their questions often begin with interrogative pronouns (what, where) followed by a noun or verb such as “where gone?”

Stage 3

  • By now children would be asking lots of different questions but often signaling that they are questions with intonation alone, for example: “Sally play in garden mummy?” This is made into a question by varying the tone of voice.
  • Stage 4
    • This is when children use increasingly complex sentence structures and begin to:
    • Explain things
    • Ask for explanations using the word: “why?”
    • Making a wide range of requests: “shall I do it?”

Stage 5

  • By this stage children regularly use language to do all the things that they need it for. They give information, asking and answering questions, requesting directly and indirectly, suggesting, offering, stating and expressing.