Using different senses

Using our different senses to convey concepts in different forms and modalities: text, speech, diagrams, photos etc. can be helpful when students are supported in making links between these different forms. This process of making links and integrating different forms of information requires additional brain activity.

Using actions in learning is one example of multisensory learning. When we become physically active in our learning it involves additional brain activity (linking actions to the concepts) and this makes it easier to remember what we have learnt, with additional brain activation occurring when come across such actively learnt concepts again.

fMRI showing hotspot of increased activity in the parietal lobe relating to physical memory

The images above show additional brain activity when we encounter memories that have been actively acquired using actions (Butler et al., 2011).

Image credit

Left image from Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 23(11), Butler, A.J. et al., Enhanced multisensory integration and motor reactivation after active motor learning of audiovisual associations, p.3515-3528, Figure 6. Between-group contrast of old visual items versus new visual items. Copyright (2011). Reproduced with permission from MIT Press.

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The Science of Learning

National STEM Learning Centre