Activating Temporal Lobes Activates Learning

Activating Temporal Lobes Activates Learning post page

Online Dementia Journal

By Online Dementia JournalSeptember 15th, 2020

Activating Temporal Lobes Activates Learning

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by Julie Gala, MA CCC-SLP,

Senior SLP Clinical Specialist, and

Jami Myers, MOT/L,

OT Clinical Specialist


In a world of ever-changing policy and procedure for many healthcare workers, the last thing your amygdala needs is two overly eager clinicians introducing a new skill set, right?

Who has time for this?

What more could I possibly need to know, I have known this resident for 5 years?

Great, another webinar that could be an email, I’m sure!

These are all concerns Julie and I navigate daily as we begin to change the culture of care within our company.

As we were challenged with the task of delivering our workshops virtually, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, we were hit with yet another curveball. Deliver the content in 30 to45 minute intervals to 10 to15 sites, and keep the participants engaged. Sure, no problem, we said. As PAC Certified Independent Trainers, we knew the first step to being successful is regulating our own emotional responses to convey the objectives of the course.

How do we increase the odds of the new information being retained over time? By understanding the multiple learning styles in order to incorporate each one into breakout rooms while assessing the aha moments and the uh-oh moments that provided visual feedback to use as trainers. The visual feedback provided more data than the auditory cues for us to learn to adapt in the moment versus trainings that were completed via audio response alone. Drawing from previous experiences and memories in the hippocampus, we immediately noticed when learners’ emotional responses shifted from uh-oh to aha moments.

How many times during an Adult Experiential Learning Cycle (AELC) do we elicit our temporal lobes? We have found that when our participants draw on personal memories with strong emotional ties, they tend to become more engaged and the material sticks. Our learners often picture a person they are working with or have worked with when we are introducing the GEMS, relate the information to family members during Normal vs Not Normal, and begin to form new habits of movement during Positive Physical Approach (PPA™) and Hand under Hand (HuH®) skills training.

Too many times as trainers we become agenda focused, putting our preferred teaching methods above the learning styles of those we are attempting to reach. We have noticed that by expanding our delivery methods to ensure we are activating as much of the temporal lobe as possible to ensure new information is deeply embedded, we are receiving more feedback from our participants on successes with their new skills. Does this take a little more planning on our part? Yes. Is it worth it to change the culture of care within our company of skilled nursing facilities? Most definitely!


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