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Becoming Conference Brain Changers Velvet Chainsaw's Midcourse Corrections
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Washington, DC
Wednesday, April 11, 2012



Never in society have we known so much about how our brains operate and how we learn. Today, we know what to do to foster successful learning at our conferences and events.

Becoming A Brain Changer

Research in cognitive neuroscience or mind, brain and education science is providing exciting new insights into how the brain develops and learns. If meeting professionals and conference organizers want to provide attendee experiences that promote learning and networking, they have to know more about how the brain learns and operates. They have to become brain changers. Brain changers have the knowledge and experience to design creative and interactive sessions that helps their attendees learn, achieve and succeed.

Five More Important Education Neuroscience Findings For Brain Changers

Here are five findings in educational neuroscience research that opens the door for conference organizers to help attendees reach their full learning potential.

1. Attending A Conference Can Be Good (Or Bad) For Your Brain

Studies show that intelligence and creativity are separate abilities that are not genetically fixed! Both can be modified by environment and learning experiences. Experiences that conference organizers provide can actually raise (or lower) an attendee's intelligence and creativity. Adults learn to be more creative through engagement and authentic applications of their learning to real world problems. Providing content that lacks meaning to attendees can actually decrease intelligence and creativity.

2. Multitasking Is A Mask For Alternate Tasking

Our brains can focus on only one task at a time. What is mistakenly called multitasking is the actually alternate tasking, shifting attention from one task to a second task and then back to the first one. Each brain shift requires increased mental effort. As the brain shifts, working memory from the first task is lost. Instead of doing one task well, two tasks are done poorly. Conference organizers can help attendees focus on one task at a time by providing speakers that are more interesting than any distractions possible.

3. Less Is More: Working Memory Capacity Is Decreasing

Recent studies suggest that the capacity of our working memory has decreased from about seven items to five. Working memory is the ability to hold items in our short term memory at any one time. This means conference organizers should ask speakers to present fewer details during education sessions. Request that they delete irrelevant content as well. Then use some of the time usually spent lecturing allowing attendees to delve deeper into meaningful topic through discussion.

4. Make Education Sessions In The Middle Of Day Highly Interactive

Researchers have developed a deeper understanding of how circadian cycles affect focus. Our ability to focus wanes for 35 to 45 minutes just past the middle of our day. Learning is more difficult during that time. For that reason, conference organizers should schedule speakers in the afternoon that use engagement and interactivity to help learners maintain focus.

5. Neuromyths Like Left-Brained And Right-Brained Abound

Conference organizers have to become better at telling scientific fact from hype, especially in the education field. For instance, neuroscience has proven that people are not "left-brainers" or "right-brainers." We are whole-brainers. While certain activities take place in specific parts of the brain, we actually use both sides for most processes. Another neuromyth is learning styles. Neuroscience researchers have proven that the conventional wisdom of learning style theories of the 1980s and 1990s are in fact myth and not grounded in scientific fact. Which of these five findings is most interesting to you and why? What are some sources of information for conference organizers and meeting professionals to stay abreast of educational neuroscience findings?
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