“No Meaning, No Learning”: the Meaning Network
“If any part of your Meaning Network is not fully activated, you will be unable to effectively select information into your long-term memory banks.”
– JW Wilson, Advanced Learning Institute
Although meaning is the basis upon which all new information is selected into our brain’s long-term memory networks (see “Meaning – the Holy Grail of Learning“), before new information can be efficiently selected, it must first stimulate a group of neurological structures, called the “Meaning Network.” The Meaning Network first tags information that will be valuable to our survival with emotional and somatic marking (feedback from body and organs). It then prioritizes this tagged information into working memory so that the most important will be selected for inclusion into long-term memory. A major element of the Meaning Network is the dopamine/endorphine reward circuits. These circuits rivet our attention on meaningful stimuli, producing a sense of pleasure from them which, in turn, prompts us to seek out these stimuli and repeat the behaviors that expose us to them. Neuroscientific research confirms that if any part of this Meaning Network is not fully activated, you will be unable to effectively select information into your long-term memory banks.
To understand why your Meaning Network must be stimulated before you can form efficient long-term memories, we recommend that you read the next three Elements in order: “No Learning Without Emotion,” “No Learning Without Feedback From the Body,” and “Working Memory – Where Emotionally and Somatically Tagged Information Gets Prioritized“), These three Elements portray a very linear view of how the Meaning Network operates. It is important to recognize that the brain does not function in a rigid linear manner; instead, it is a very complex system with billions upon billions of feed-forward and feedback loops, creating endless waves of cross talk between millions of diverse neural groups. That having been said, the easiest way to understand how the Meaning Network functions is to employ linear analysis used in the next three Elements while at the same time recognizing that there are limitations inherent in this approach.