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Use neuroscience to build effective learning strategies


Understanding how learning works on a biological level can help create the right environment

Businesses should use knowledge of how the brain works to build effective learning strategies, according to Surya Mohapatra, global head of talent transformation for Wipro BPS.

Speaking at the HR Tech World conference in London, Mohapatra explained that understanding how learning works on a biological level can help create the right environment. "Your brain is made up of neurones," he said. "Dendrites are fibres that grow out of these neurones, and dendrites are formed on other dendrites the way twigs grow on the branches of trees.

"Dendrites are formed and grow when you listen to, write about and practise something. Since they can form on other dendrites we know you can add knowledge to knowledge that already exists. Our brains are social. Just as neurones want to connect to other neurones, our brains want us to connect with other brains. As such, you should try to ensure that you allow people to learn in synergy with others."

He also highlighted the importance of allowing time to reflect on what has been learned, and allowing a suitable space and time for people to discuss ideas. "'Active testing' is when you turn ideas, plans and concepts into physical events," he said. "That's not always experiments, but could be discussing your idea with others, having the chance to do some research online or at the library, or just getting a beer with colleagues and talking about the subject.

"You should remember that our job is to create an environment that makes it easy to learn."

Speaking at the same event, Natalie Harvey, head of learning and development UK and Ireland for Saint-Gobain, said physical health should be an important part of leadership programmes.

"We see leadership as being made up of support, forgiveness, trust and inspiration," she said. "'Our 'Fit for Work, Fit for Life' programme saw our senior managers learning about those values through a shared experience as they worked to improve their blood pressure, cholesterol levels and measurements.

"Two of our manufacturing sites have now introduced on-site gyms, and they use Facebook and social media to promote them, share fitness tips and healthy recipes. It's great to see them support and inspire each other every day."