Intelligence and Learning

Some Topics



Intelligence is expressed in the ability to learn. Smart people learn faster and learn more than not so smart people. Intelligence is manifest in the ability to acquire complicated skills and excel in performance by practice and progressive improvement. Competent people are smart people who have the discipline to practice and improve their performance. In demanding, professional environments the nicest people tend to be the smartest and most competent. There are exceptions.

Bodybrainmind is an open-ended system that will evolve a unique identity in the lifetime of each individual. Individuation occurs as experience modifies some brain structures and coexists with old programs that persist regardless of the individual experience, because the older brain structures resist modification.

Humans act on the world through praxis, skilled movements that are learned slowly by diligent practice. The main adaptive task is to learn what movements are required for survival today. Ten thousand years age, if you were male, you might have learned to throw a spear and carry a deer carcass on your back. Today, you learn to learn to throw a football, move a pen across a paper surface and push keys on a keyboard.

Humans learn by imitating what they see and hear. Learning movement skills is implicit in life experiences and not recognized as learning. For most humans, lessons learned at school are relatively unimportant. The central feature of intelligence is the ability to understand what is really going on out there and to respond to events with successful and adaptive behavior. Praxis is integral to intelligence. If you add mimeses to praxis, you start building a meaningful model of intelligence. Praxis involves the ability to imitate and copy the movements of others. Humans learn by imitating what they see and hear. This enhanced mimetic capacity is one of the important developments in the human brain.

Humans create neuronal models of their own behavior and the behavior of others, remember and communicate these models. We can simulate experience and anticipate what we are going to do in the future. We can practice skills in advance so that can improve our performance. We can expand this modeling capacity into verbal and body communication, invent language and substitute words for objects and action. We can learn to handle words much like objects and do symbolic transactions with each other.

One central domain of intelligence is, the ability to live in a group, to cooperate with others and, at the same time, to compete successfully for status, privileges, resources and mates. In all my books, I make frequent references to the local group and emphasize the importance of group activity and group identity. The aptitude and skills required for affiliations and bonding originated with interactions in small groups. Children acquire the foundation learning for social interactions in the first six years of life, from the family, from other children, from local childcare groups and from schools. As children develop, apprenticeship is the best way of learning advanced skills. Children can and should assume responsibility for meaningful work at home and in the community as soon as they are physically capable.

Here are simple insights into the learning process:

  • Learning is the process of modifying brain structure and function.
  • Learning is dependent on the availability of innate programs that organize and support the acquisition of skills and knowledge.
  • Learning is mimetic and spontaneous. Infants and children copy the sounds and behaviors they see and hear.
  • Effective Learning requires normal brain function

The ability to learn can be equated to the construction of the brain and to the ongoing chemistry of life. I always instructed my young patients with above average IQs who were not learning well in school that they were somewhat like a shiny new car with a turbo-charged engine, but someone put the wrong gas in their tank and now we are disappointed with their performance. You could get a badly constructed car and be disappointed or you could be dealing with the wrong gas; the food supply and the physical environment determine how well the child's brain is going to work.