Originally posted in our September 2021 Top of Mind Newsletter.
Researchers at Virginia Tech have recently found a link between neural learning processes and symptoms of depression. They have also found that there is a marked improvement in their depressive symptoms as one works to improve their learning processes. The researchers found that “the symptom improvements that followed cognitive behavioral therapy were related to improvements in reinforcement learning components that were disrupted prior to therapy.”
So what does this mean?
In short, thinking about how we learn and improving this process can help us beyond pure knowledge acquisition. While there are more obvious benefits to becoming better at learning, such as building new skills and finding new opportunities, the very act of learning can have a powerful impact on our lives. And, this does not need to look the same for everyone. In fact, the study points out that people with depression learn differently, and learning processes change as they work through their therapy.
Does this mean that improved learning practices can help prevent depression? The study does not say, but we have found that those open to learning and unlearning lead happier lives. So, how are we preparing learners to take ownership of their education? How are we engaging them in the process?