Studies have found that sitting for prolonged periods of time is bad for one's waistline, blood pressure and cholesterol and some studies have even strongly correlated sitting with reduced life expectancy. But a recent study has found that taking a five minute walk at least once every hour can mitigate some of these ill effects (Thosar et al, 2014)
The average adult attention span is between 10 and 15 minutes (McKeachie , 1999).
Humans are natural explorers. We are born with an intense desire to explore the world around us. We can become anesthetized to this but our brain never loses the ability to learn in this way (Medina, 2008).
Companies that give staff time to explore where their mind asks them to have increased productivity and creativity (Medirata, 2007).
Children who spend less time in structured activities and more time playing and exploring have better self-directed executive function. Executive function is essential for flexibly switching between different activities rather than getting stuck on one thing, stopping yourself from yelling when angry, delaying gratification etc.
Autistic people who avoid eye contact experience more amygdala stimulation when forced to look in people’s eyes. This is the “fight or flight” stress response, and the researchers suggest that autistic reactions to faces including feeling that they are threatening (Tottenham et al, 2013).
Laughter can reduce levels of the stress hormone, cortisol (Berk et al ,1989, Bennett et al, 2008). Studies have also shown laughter increases levels of oxytocin and also melatonin (Bennett et al, 2003).
Students were more likely to recall a statistics lecture when it was interjected with jokes about relevant topics (Garner, 2006).
Laughter yoga was first introduced into schools in India in 1998. One school even has a dedicated ‘laughter master’. Teachers are reporting that students are more engaged, willing to learn and creative (laughteryoga.org).
Both adults and children with autism experience memory difficulties when asked a direct recall question. When asked to choose between information that they have learned and not learned they were unimpaired (Maister et al, 2013).
Our brain is hard-wired to process the gist of a topic before the details. Information should therefore be presented in this way (LeDoux, 2002; Turk-Browne et al, 2006; Adolphs et al, 2005; Squire, 1999).
A recent study found that toddlers learn best by observing other people doing an activity. The study went on to suggest that it might be more prudent for teachers to start introducing abstract mathematical concepts earlier using cause and effect type strategies (Waismeyer et al, 2014).
Extrinsic motivation reduces task interest and can undermine independent learning by making the individual dependent on the source of the reward (e.g. the teacher). This results in an individual who is less able to source information themselves. Extrinsic motivation leads to superficial learning that does not generalize across contexts or situations (Shirley, 1992)
We pay more attention to information we are interested in and this leads to more powerful, long-term learning (Shirley, 1992).
Children with autism’s difficulty with sustaining attention on an imposed task may be more due to the motivational contingencies of the task rather than to impairment in their ability to sustain attention (Garretson, 1990).
Children with autism may be difficult to test using standardized measures but improving motivation may significantly enhance their testing performance (Koegel, 1997).