Our Brain's Capacity To Learn

NEUROSCIENCE | Oct. 18, 2019

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A fundamental goal of our nation’s educational system is to arm students with the knowledge they need before they go out into the real world, but are schools actually preparing these students for functioning in the real world?


What’s the last thing that you learned how to do?


Maybe it was the computer or phone you’re looking at right now. 


It might not look like it, but your computer is a close technological cousin of the human brain (actually, it might be more of a child instead of a cousin because technically, the brain is what made the computer in the end… but that’s neither here nor there). 


Just as machine learning can be done by a computer that has an AI feature, our brain also has the capacity to learn new things. This is allowed to happen by a feature of the brain called neuroplasticity. Neuroplasticity allows the different regions of the brain to form new connections with each other in order to for the brain to adapt to its environment. 


The way AI uses new information to improve machine performance is similar to the way our brains can learn to perform better, but humans created AI. Our brains make us the most complex and most intelligent species on the planet because we were designed in God’s image.





Neuroscience research has identified ten capacities of the human brain that allow it to learn in distinct areas of development. The DMA-ELM (Educational Learning Model) focuses on these capacities to learn because DMA’s students struggle with traditional learning models. Traditional models of learning imply that each student knows how to learn the curriculum being taught to them but fail to realize some of these students with learning differences need to be taught how to learn in general. This implied sameness of learning style is exactly what DMA is trying to tackle.

Take a look at the ten different capacities to learn. We have listed the common signs of a potential issue with the function of each capacity to learn. Under the symptoms you will find the related capacity and the definition of its function. At the end of the post, look for a download with more information on the brain’s capacity to learn.


  1. Messy handwriting, miscopying, irregular spelling, speech rambling, careless written errors in mathematics, poor written performance

  • Affected Capacity: Motor Symbol Sequencing

  • Capacity Function: Ability to learn and produce a written sequence of symbols


  1. Difficulty with reading comprehension, trouble with mathematical reasoning, trouble with logical reasoning, difficulty reading an analog cock, problem understanding cause and effect

  • Affected Capacity: Symbol Relations

  • Capacity Function: Ability to understand the relationships among two or more ideas or concepts


  1. Trouble remembering oral instructions, difficulty following lectures or extended conversations, problem acquiring information through listening

  • Affected Capacity: Memory for Information/ Instructions

  • Capacity Function: Ability to remember chunks of auditory information


  1. Problem putting information into Improve the capacity to understand one’s own words, speaking in a sentence of increasing difficulty incomplete sentences, difficulty and length; improve the ability to using internal speech to work out I put information into own words; consequences, trouble following develop the capacity for the sense of long sentences, breakdown of steps how symbols (words and numbers) in mathematical procedures

  • Affected Capacity: Predictive Speech

  • Capacity Function: Ability to see how words and numbers Interconnect sequentially into fluent sentences and procedures


  1. Mispronouncing words, avoiding using words because of uncertainty of pronunciation, limited ability to learn and use phonics, difficulty learning foreign languages, difficulty thinking and talking at the same time, flat and monotone speech with lack of rhythm and intonation

  • Affected Capacity: Broca’s Speech Pronunciation

  • Capacity Function: Ability to learn to pronounce syllables and then integrate them into the stable and consistent pronunciation of a word


  1. Problem being self-directed and self-organized in learning. limited mental initiative, difficulty keeping attention relevantly oriented to the demands of a task necessary for completion, difficulty thinking. planning problem solving, trouble seeing the main point

  • Affected Capacity: Symbolic Thinking

  • Capacity Function: Ability to develop and maintain plans and strategies through the use of language


  1. Poor word recognition, slow reading, difficulty with spelling, trouble remembering symbol patterns such as mathematical or chemical equations

  • Affected Capacity: Symbol Recognition

  • Capacity Function: Ability to visually recognize and remember a word or symbol


  1. Problems with associative memory, trouble following auditory information, trouble learning names of things such as animals, places, people, colors, days of the week

  • Affected Capacity: Lexical Memory

  • Capacity Function: Ability to remember several unrelated words


  1. Problems interpreting non-verbal information such as body language, facial expression and voice tone, weak social skills, difficulty perceiving and interpreting one’s own emotions, difficulty thinking, planning, problem solving non verbally

  • Affected Capacity: Non-Verbal Thinking

  • Capacity Function: Ability to register and interpret non-verbal information and plan and problem solve non verbally


  1. Problems with finger counting, trouble retaining numbers in one’s head, difficulty making change, problem learning math facts, poor sense of time management, difficulty with time signature in music

  • Affected Capacity: Quantification Sense

  • Capacity Function: Ability to carry out internal sequential mental operations, such as mental mathematics


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