the learning brain

This book! It’s a good one, folks. I fully admit I am like two thirds of the way through and already writing this review, just because I think the book is cool.

So I started reading The Learning Brain: Memory and Brain Development in Children by Torkel Klingberg all the way back in August, which is both good and bad. The good: I need lots of time to absorb neuroscience, since science is not my field. Bad: reading over a long time means you have time to keep forgetting things. I recommend that you pick this book up when you have a longish period of vacation so that you can give it the attention it deserves but also put it down from time to time in favor of some lighter fiction, assuming you are like me and not a scientist.

The book is exactly what the title suggests, so it tells you all about the neuroscience behind learning, from early childhood onward. You learn how short-term memory works and how the brain learns to recognize symbols and determine whether mirror images (like, say, how 3 and E in cursive are the same, just flipped) are considered the same or different. I felt pretty proud of myself when Klingberg kept referencing Stanislas Dehaene, whose book Reading in the Brain I read last year, as it talks about how many letters are based on structures that the brain is attuned to, like Xes, perpendicular lines, and curved lines, so that it’s easier to learn to read them. This is a good expansion and sort-of sequel to Dehaene’s book, since it takes the ideas of how literacy is and isn’t a natural thing for the brain to do and goes further into all realms of learning.

I don’t expect to understand or remember everything in here. But I think Klingberg explains things very well and keeps up a good balance between science talk and layperson talk. It’s a great thing to have in the back of your mind if you’re a teacher, librarian, or learning specialist, and I’m glad to be reading it a little before I start my big girl career because it will make me a little more in tune with the issues and needs of future patrons/clients/students/whatever. You don’t have to memorize the names of all the neurotransmitters to have a little more sensitivity to developmental ages and how they connect to abilities to learn different things.


One thought on “the learning brain

  1. Pingback: preliminary thoughts on akata witch | comp lit and mediaphilia

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