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Skip to 0 minutes and 2 seconds [Paul Howard-Jones] Underneath the wrinkly cortex are some so-called subcortical structures that are also very important for learning. For example, there’s the hippocampus, which is crucial for laying down memory in the cortex. And then there is also the amygdala, which is involved with our emotional response. And there are also some parts of the reward system that are very important for our desire to approach and experience the world. Subcortical structures are essential for our experience of emotions, and these structures interact and communicate with the cortex in a number of different ways. In fact, emotion is very intertwined with our reasoning and learning. So much so that some scientists question whether these should ever be considered separately.

The structure of the brain: subcortical structures

Within the subcortical region, there is the ‘reward system’. This has much to do with how we respond positively to (approach) a learning situation. The subcortical structures highlighted here are:

  • Hippocampus: laying down memory
  • Amygdala: emotional response

The cortex and the subcortical region interact. It is these interactions and the impact on learning that we will explore in more detail next week.

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The Science of Learning

National STEM Learning Centre