The Neuroscience of Learning: How Our Brain Acquires and Retains Information 

The brain is constantly working to acquire, process and store information. This is the process called learning. The neuroscience of learning is an area of science that explores how our brain works when it comes to learning, remembering, and retaining information. In this article, we will explore the neuroscience of learning and how our brains learn and store information, including the types of learning, how our brains acquire and store information, and the impacts of neuroscience on learning.

Types of Learning 

When exploring the neuroscience of learning, it’s important to be aware of the different types of learning. Generally, there are two major types of learning: explicit and implicit.

Explicit Learning 

Explicit learning is a conscious process, where the learner is actively trying to learn something. It requires conscious effort, as the learner must be aware of what they are trying to learn, and actively engage in the learning process. Examples of explicit learning include learning a language, memorizing facts, or studying for an exam.

Implicit Learning 

Implicit learning is unconscious and doesn’t require conscious effort. It relies on repetition, and information is typically acquired without the learner consciously noticing. Examples of implicit learning include subconsciously understanding a foreign language after extensive exposure, or memorizing a sequence of numbers or letters by repeatedly practicing it.

How Our Brains Acquire and Store Information 

Our brains are composed of cells called neurons, which are responsible for acquiring and storing information. Neurons are connected to each other, forming networks that create pathways, allowing information to travel throughout the brain.


The actual transfer of information between neurons is called neurotransmission. Neurotransmission is the process where a neuron receives a chemical or electrical signal from another neuron, and sends a message to the next neuron in the pathway. This process is how information is transferred throughout the brain, forming memories and learning pathways.

Synaptic Plasticity 

Synaptic plasticity is what allows our brains to learn and store information. Synapses are spaces between neurons, and plasticity is the ability to change and adapt. Synaptic plasticity refers to the ability of the synapses between neurons to change and become stronger, with more connections, when exposed to new information. This forming of new connections is what allows our brains to learn and store new information.

Impacts of Neuroscience on Learning 

Neuroscience has had many positive impacts on the way we learn. An understanding of the brain’s processes is essential for tailoring learning experiences that are tailored to the individual. Neuroscientific research has provided insight into which type of learning material and environment maximize learning, and how to improve memory retention.

Neuroimaging Research 

One field of neuroscience that has had a great impact on learning is neuroimaging research. Neuroimaging is the use of medical images, such as MRI and PET scans, to study the structure and function of the brain. Neuroimaging research has provided insight into how the brain responds to different types of stimulation, and which areas of the brain are activated during different types of learning experiences. This has proved invaluable in improving learning strategies, and tailoring instruction to a learner’s needs.


Neurofeedback is a technique used to monitor a learner’s brain activity during instruction, and provide feedback. This feedback can be auditory or visual prompts, or adjustments to the quickly presented material, based on the learner’s brain activity. Neurofeedback can be extremely useful for helping children with ADHA, as well as those with autism, by providing feedback that can help regulate behaviour and focus.

Learning Enhancement Strategies 

Neuroscience has also helped to identify learning strategies and techniques to improve memory retention. Repetition and spaced learning are two techniques that have been studied and proven effective in improving memory retention and learning. Spaced learning involves spacing out practice sessions over a longer period of time, rather than cramming. This helps to reinforce understanding and improve recall during testing.

The neuroscience of learning is a fascinating field that has helped us better understand how our brains acquire and store information. Neuroimaging research and neurofeedback have provided invaluable insight into which type of learning material and environment maximize learning, and how to structure learning sessions for optimal comprehension. As neuroscience continues to advance, it is likely that learning strategies and techniques will be developed that can help make learning even easier.