Sometimes, what we think we know might demotivate us to learn more
on 27 May 2019
Lay back and get cured with hypnotherapy

Neurological conundrums - It's not always what you know or even what you think you know that makes life challenging. It's actually what your brain believes about what it thinks it knows; that's the problem . . . 

Ignorance is not bliss!

A question I always ask clients is, "do you know anything about hypnosis?" If they say no, I might ask, "well, what do you think it is?" If I get an, "I don't know," response, I explain it from my perspective, which is likely to be somewhat different from most other hypnotherapists that I know of. To qualify that statement I like to point out the major differences between what I believe against that of the others. For one, I do not believe that we tap into the subconscious mind, what we actually tap into, is the brain and we do that via the primary and secondary auditory cortices. Before anything that we hear can be perceived, it has to be processed by certain brain cortices, one of those being the primary auditory cortex (which sits just behind your ear) and is mostly involved in the process of coding sound. There are also several other areas of the brainstem related to the perceptions of sound and are perhaps more relevant to my work because of their connections to the rest of the brain. These are the olivary complex, the cochlear nuclei, pedunculopontine tegmental nuclei, ascending reticular activating system, all of which have connections to the thalamus, the brain's sensory processing hub. Auditory signals are processed in the medial geniculate nucleus of the thalamus and from there, on to other cortical and subcortical areas, wherein they weave their miraculous effects on emotion and cognition via or various memory systems.

Everything about the process we call life is, in some way, a result of processing in many areas of the brain. Our language, verbal, non-verbal and body, is entwined into memories that live in specific areas of the brain. The motor and sensory cortices have to react in a precise way to elicit the correct muscle movement required for each word, the delicate manoeuvring of the lips and tongue to say words like "the" or "party." Almost every area of the brain holds memories in some form or another, the narrative of our life so to speak. When it comes to the kind of things people come to therapy to address, many of these same areas of the brain are involved and the more associated these things are with negative and highly emotive matters, the greater and stronger the memories are!

Relating the treatment of emotional and psychological disorders, to the research below is interesting because of the way the participants went through a learning phase, then a testing phase. When it comes to something like an anxiety disorder, the learning and testing phase are all done by the various brain systems involved in the processing of fear stimuli. Anxiety disorders generate avoidance behaviours but the avoidance only creates an illusion of things getting better because we avoid the stimulus and therefore do not experience the fear. However, in new or novel situations, unwitting exposure to a not so obvious stimulus intensifies a new version of avoidance type behaviours. Essentially the exposure one needs to fully understand the changes that may have occurred, be it naturally or as a result of therapeutic interventions, just doesn't happen and it is the absence of such exposure that prolongs and exacerbates the condition. A similar rationale applies to many or most psychological conditions, save that in some cases there is possibly some actual damage to a brain structure, although, in my experience, is rare.

So, back to my opening statement, hypnosis, via auditory signals (my voice), stimulates certain brain regions, which somehow manages to alter the way individual neurons as well as certain networks, express themselves, at least in some context to the memories contained therein. A simplified way of explaining this is, you know someone as Dave but his name is actually Rodney. All the while you believe his name is Dave, there is no conflict. However, one day you discover, by accident, other people referring to him as Rodney; now there is conflict? Next, you set out to discover his real name and when you discover it to be Rodney, your memories get changed and updated. Depending on how well you know Dave/Rodney, is somewhat dependant on how many memories regarding him there are, e.g. where he lives, works or socialises etc. What kind of car he drives, his family's names and numerous other details. Essentially all of these memories get changed in some minor way and some changes may incur some more major changes. Imagine how many memories there are relating to an anxiety disorder? While the processes are similar to the above example of Dave/Rodney, there is a significant difference in anxiety behaviours because of the negative valance of fear-based memories and the systems that contain them. While finding a solution to an anxiety type condition is somewhat more challenging than a mere name difference, it is the similarity in the way the brain functions that ultimately allows change to occur. Hypnosis therapy just makes the whole process that much easier to achieve!

Hypnosis is a proven and effective way to affect change, at the level of your brain, that can lead to reestablishing relatively normal states of brain function. Hypnotherapy can enable parts of the brain that may be kind of malfunctioning. It is somewhat tantamount to rewriting some of the neural code that changes the way certain memories express themselves, change that and you can potentially change everything! Once these memories have been rewritten (consolidation/reconsolidation), the new neural code becomes mostly permanent. With perhaps the exception of some potential for another similar type of stress-related memory/event/experience occurring in the future; but that can also be treated in similar ways!

Hypnotherapy stands out as one of the most effective strategic life management methods there is, especially in its ability to promote clear thinking and good states of mental wellness. The behaviours that make life challenging are often a result of too much stress, too little sleep and too little by way of clarity! So, to get or take back control of your mind and your life, it makes perfect sense to use a methodology that addresses the subconscious mind's role in perpetuating negative, vague and ambiguous states of mind. Hypnosis helps us to create calm relaxing states of mind that make life work better! If you would like to address any concerns you have in this direction, or, if you just want to make your life feel better,  then why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation? Hypnosis gives you the ability to have a good life! 

The objective here is to help people understand how and why we become illogically trapped into irrational emotional experiences that may actually be happening for reasons different to that which we would imagine! If you want to know more about how Hypnotherapy can help you; why not make an appointment for a Free Consultation?

For more information on the Free Consultation - Go Here - Or to book your Free Consultation today, you can do so Here

The Research:

If you think you know the farm animal most closely related to T-Rex, or the American president who inspired the creation of blue jelly beans -- but aren't entirely sure -- you're more likely to bone up on the chicken-dinosaur connection or Ronald Reagan's predilection for glazed, gel-filled candies.

That's because our doubts about what we know pique our curiosity and can motivate us to learn more, according to new research from the University of California, Berkeley.

The findings, just published online in the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, challenge a popular belief that curiosity, in general, is the prime driver of knowledge acquisition. They also give new meaning to the Montessori approach to learning readiness, which encourages children to follow their own natural inquisitiveness.

"It's very in vogue to talk about curiosity as a strategy to increase learning, but it's unclear how to engage people's curiosity," said study senior author Celeste Kidd, an assistant professor of psychology at UC Berkeley. "Our study suggests it's the uncertainty -- when you think you know something and discover you don't -- that leads to the most curiosity and learning."

Practical applications include tailoring classroom learning to students' misconceptions about what they know.

"Asking students to explain how things work can be an effective learning intervention because it makes them aware of what they don't know and curious about what they need to know," said study co-lead author Shirlene Wade, a visiting PhD scholar in Kidd's psychology lab at UC Berkeley.

For example, if students are quizzed on what causes climate change, how a bicycle works or about the U.S. constitutional separation of powers -- and realize they only have a partial understanding of how these things work -- their curiosity is stimulated, and they're more open to learning if only to get it right the next time.

Meanwhile, the subjects we know nothing -- or too much -- about, can prompt disinterest or even boredom.

Take "Game of Thrones," the blockbuster medieval fantasy TV series. If you're a super fan and predicted, wrongly, that Sansa would end up on the Iron Throne, you're more likely to review all the show's characters and plot twists to see what you missed.

If you were the showrunner, on the other hand, you'd have no reason to be curious. And if you sat out the entire eight seasons, you just wouldn't care.

"Curiosity is the gatekeeper of the knowledge we choose to absorb, and that includes information about 'Game of Thrones,'" Kidd said.

For the study, 87 adults from across the country, recruited through Amazon Mechanical Turk, a crowdsourcing platform, were each quizzed online for about an hour on 100 trivia questions.

In the learning phase of the experiment, each study participant gave their best guess in response to each trivia question, and whether they thought their answer was correct.

They also rated on a scale of 1 to 7 how close they thought their answers were to be accurate and how curious they were to find out the correct answer. Participants were then shown the answer to the trivia question for five seconds and asked to rate their level of surprise.

Next, they entered the testing phase of the experiment and answered the same trivia questions, except for the ones they had gotten right in the learning phase.

Once all the answers were submitted, independent evaluators used objective measures to calculate how close each answer was to be accurate and measured the gap between what each participant thought the answer was relative to what it actually was.

On average, participants got 18 answers right in the learning phase and 69 correct in the testing phase. Their curiosity levels reflected high and low interest, depending on the question topic. Overall, those who believed their initial best guess was close to the correct answer showed the most curiosity.

"Those who were more curious were better at guessing correctly in the testing phase, which suggests they were more inspired to learn," Wade said.

In addition to revealing the specific kind of curiosity that promotes learning, the results could serve to advance the theories of Maria Montessori, whose child-centred approach to learning readiness in the late 1800s is practised to this day.

"Maria Montessori said you should present children with something they are ready to learn, but she didn't talk a lot about what being ready meant," Kidd said. "Our findings expand on the idea of readiness by showing that what children think they know, but don't know, can boost their curiosity and motivate learning."

Story Source:

Materials provided by the University of California - Berkeley. Originally written by Yasmin Anwar. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Shirlene Wade, Celeste Kidd. The role of prior knowledge and curiosity in learningPsychonomic Bulletin & Review, 2019; DOI: 10.3758/s13423-019-01598-6

Cite This Page:

University of California - Berkeley. "What we think we know -- but might not -- pushes us to learn more: New findings challenge the popular assumption that curiosity, in general, is the prime driver of learning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 May 2019. <>.