Train your brain

How do you help your brain to learn more easily? Which proven brain principles exist? On January 17th I attended an inspiration session on brain didactics *. This blog tells you more about the 6 principles on which this theory is build.

These are the six principles of brain learning:


Responding to the emotion of the learner ensures a higher learning effect. Consider, for example, giving rewards and coping with stressful situations. These kinds of experiences are ingrained in our brains, and therefore we have learned something. When designing learning solutions for example, it is important to arouse the learner’s curiosity, to make the subject matter interesting and exciting and create a good atmosphere.
A great example that illustrates the importance of emotion is filling in a
sudoku puzzle. The moment you feel that you are about to complete the puzzle, you are more motivated to actually complete the puzzle. What does this have to do with the brain? By activating certain emotions,
dopamine is sent to the brain and this, in turn, ensures better learning effects.


The default setting of our brain is: lazy. After seeing or reading about something for the first time, you will likely remember little about it. We don’t learn something after just one encounter. This is why repetition is important. This way, you train your brain to retain specific information by force. A theory that illustrates this is Ebbinghaus’ forgetting curve.

Repetition, preactice, and spacing intervals give your brain time to adapt and prevent it from overflowing with information (cognitive overload). It will help you remember the subject better in the long haul. 


It is important to actively engage with the subject matter. Taking notes is a well known example. If you take notes during a course on a notepad, you will have to paraphrase, make connections and summarize. You are making the subject matter your own and make it meaningful to your brain. Research shows that taking notes on paper is more effective than taking notes on a computer. Why? Whilst typing you can keep track of the teachers or trainers. This does not force you to distill the core message and write down the most important parts of the story.


To focus on both the outcome and the context helps when you are learning. Focusing on the outcome helps to distinguish between important and less important information. A clear expected result, will aid the learning process. This means that helping your learners to pay attention and keep track of goals will pay off!

For keeping focus on the context, try to keep the learning context as close to reality as possible. For example by using lifelike examples, realistic practice cases and including videos of recognizable situations.

Sensory enriched

Engage as many senses as possible!
Auditory information is stored differently in the brain than visual information
or information learned by feeling or movement. That is why you should try to engage multiple senses in learning situations. This way the learner can retrieve the information from different areas of the brain.

Build on what is already there

Building on an existing foundation may sound like an open door, but is still not the starting point of most learning solutions. The learners that are able to tie their existing knowledge to new knowledge have significantly better knowledge retention. It creates association between subjects that are known and unknown.

it is a well-known didactical tool to activate prior knowledge at the start of a new topic. It can be done in a multitude of ways, such as asking participants what they already know or experienced. Such a moment also offers a change to correct existing misconceptions about a subject.

These are the six brain principles. They are a useful tool for creating lessons, training, or digital learning solutions and aligning them with how our brain functions.

Do you already use these elements? If not, try to incorporate at least one of them in your next product!

* I attended an inspiration session about brain didactics at the network event for Gelderland learning professionals in Arnhem. This blog is a short summary of this event.



Laat je e-mail achter en wij doen de rest!

Deel deze blog met je netwerk of met je vrienden!

Rijnzathe 14, 7th Floor
3454 PV, Utrecht

Copyright inbrain (Graphix visions B.V.)