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Neuroscience and Continuing Education: 5 Tips to Boost Your Employees’ Knowledge

Neurosciences et formation continue

Busy schedules, stress, fatigue, the belief that one is born with a fixed “amount of intelligence,” the impression that one is too old to learn or memorize new things – advancements in neuroscience tell us the opposite! They demonstrate that – regardless of age and living conditions of the “learner” – new learning is always possible. Especially when these teachings are tailored.

The more we use our brain in diverse ways, the more new synaptic connections are formed among the average 86 billion neurons a human possesses. In simple terms: the more we activate our gray matter, the smarter we become. This is great news, both for employees seeking growth and for the companies employing them, which value the unique qualities of each employee.

Between “E-Learning” (online learning, on the Internet), “Blended Learning” (a mix of online and traditional learning), or in-person training (physically attending a course), there are numerous possibilities in the world of 2.0 education to enhance employees’ knowledge.


Here are five tips

Repetition – Memorization

The more information is repeated, the better it is memorized. Neural connections solidify long-term memorization. A suitable metaphor would be the path formed where walkers tread regularly. It’s important to note that if there’s an association between already acquired knowledge and new information, the learning will be even deeper: the learner improves by assimilating real-time corrections from the instructor. Thus, the trainer should provide live commentary on the learner’s actions.

Imitation – Goodbye to “505”!

Who hasn’t opened their mouth as a baby practices eating with a spoon? Learning by observing is tied to the presence of “mirror neurons” in our brain. Mirror neurons generally allow us to create motor images in our minds corresponding to actions as they would truly be performed: by mentally visualizing an action, we learn to carry it out. This is what happens with a baby who mentally imagines the image of a spoon entering their mouth while observing/imitating someone doing it.

Result: set an example, involve managers more. Typically, a manager’s involvement in their employees’ training corresponds to the “505” scenario: 5 minutes of chatting before training, 0 minutes during training, and 5 minutes of discussion afterward. However, by actively participating in their employees’ learning, the manager promotes effective learning through exemplariness. Get involved!

Concentration – Take breaks every 15 minutes.

Better learning occurs when you’re attentive. This isn’t groundbreaking. However, neuroscience teaches us that the brain consumes significant energy and can only maintain its maximum attention (beta or gamma waves) for about 12 to 15 minutes. Beyond this critical quarter-hour mark, the brain reduces its frequency by producing alpha waves to recharge. In short: regularly plan intervals during your training, even if they’re just a few seconds of silence.

The more enjoyable, the more absorbable.

As mentioned earlier, the more information is repeated, the better it is memorized. But be careful not to achieve the opposite effect by boring your apprentice and subjecting them to a sense of hardship that hinders their learning. Just like the first kiss for many people is a much more deeply ingrained memory than the 50th kiss, emotion is a significant mnemonic factor.

The brain operates according to two circuits for learning: the punishment circuit (boredom, pain…) and the reward circuit (pleasure, satisfaction…). The conclusion: in an educational process, the more the instructor focuses on eliciting pleasant emotions in learners, the more they will foster their desire to learn. Therefore, be creative, spark your students’ curiosity, and implement motivation processes: rewards, positive feedback, surprises. Because without instilling in the learner the “desire to do” (and thus the urge to “change” by learning new things), nothing will happen in your course.

Engage the Senses = Better Learning.

Information is first a stimulus (sound, image, word…), captured by one of our senses. This stimulus will be transformed into nerve impulses, sent to the brain, which will decode the message. Neuroscience teaches us that the more senses are engaged, the more effective learning becomes. The result: don’t hesitate to create courses that engage as many senses as possible. Multisensory experiences indeed favor richer and more lasting encoding of information than unisensory experiences (reading alone). Be creative!