When we consider triggers for learning, the neurotransmitters that are involved in strong emotions like fear create the high states of arousal (activation) that we noticed on the circumplex map of emotion. The trick for effective learning is creating activation with positive arousal. These feelings include alert, excited, elated, happy.
Also notice that the aroused, negative feelings still generally allow for memories to be formed, but these memories are not usually cemented in long-term memory. This means that in high stress situations — like ones that often accompany learning scenarios, like studying for an important test — inhibit your ability to retain the things you learn for long.
All states in non-arousal are not conducive to learning new information, and negative, not-aroused feelings are not likely to be retained. This is why the state of an individual’s mental health is important in learning scenarios. Oftentimes, anxious or stressed employees, like nurses, will struggle with training because they are not in an ideal headspace to learn. This is also why we often see depressed students struggle in school. And so on and so forth.
The intricacies of the interaction between neurotransmitters and subsequent emotion coupled with incoming information are endless. However, knowing what conditions are best for information intake and memory can allow us to create more successful circumstances for learning.
How to harness the power of emotion to learn better
Understanding how to tap into the power of your emotions can help you learn better, faster and help you remember more. At Amplifire, we have weaved this power into our learning platform, which is designed to work with the emotions that are most advantageous to learning. This is why our results show that we’re a faster and more effective tool for learning and training. We’re not just preaching it; we’re putting it into practice.
A few examples of powerful emotional learning triggers are confidence, optimism, and arousal (which includes feelings like excitement or intrigue).
A particularly potent emotional tool when it comes to learning new things is the “emotion of knowledge.” In the Amplifire format, feelings of knowing are expressed in terms of doubt, certainty, or ignorance. According to Robert Burton, a neuroscientist at UCSF, the feeling of knowing is a core emotion like love, fear, sadness, or hate. The deeper evolutionary perspective tells us that the feeling of knowing is of utmost importance because it leads directly to behavior.