Learning to learn, thinking about thinking


Image: my niece, Boudicca, being amazing, as babies are wont to do…

How our brains work is something that I’m reading and thinking about a lot this week, connecting neuroscience with how we work and manage our everyday lives.*

A happy moment of serendipity this morning, as I happened to hear The Life Scientific on Radio 4, an interview with Annette Karmiloff-Smith, a renowned psychologist.

Her answer to her first question about what was amazing about babies has stuck with me all day.


The most amazing thing about babies’ minds, she said, is that they learn how to learn:

The human baby is absolutely dynamic in its learning… They learn to learn and they get better at learning.

Later I was reading about meta-cognition, thinking about thinking, knowing about knowing, noticing how our minds work – what some people call mindfulness.

It’s lovely to note that those concepts connect in this way. It’s not just that we think that makes us what we are, its that we think about thinking. Then we can change how we think, to an extent we can re-write our own code, the way our minds work.

That’s what we do when we learn to quiet our minds with meditation, to change how we go through a creative process, train ourselves to react with less anxiety and erode phobias with techniques like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).

In case you’re interested – I’m reading Your Brain at Work by David Rock and listening to the audiobook of Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. They go together very well… 

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