I’ve written a lot about my classroom experiences with students on both helping them learn from mistakes (see The Best Posts, Articles & Videos About Learning From Mistakes & Failures) and helping them learn that their intelligence is not “fixed” (see The Best Resources For Showing Students That They Make Their Brain Stronger By Learning).

A new study, reported by Scientific-American, has found that believing that you can learn from your mistakes,and that you can learn through effort, has a physical impact on the brain. The study found that the brains of people with a “fixed mindset” acted differently from those with a “growth mindset” and that the stronger the belief in a growth mindset, the more pronounced the brain activity.  Here’s an excerpt:

From the data, it seems that a growth mindset, whereby you believe that intelligence can improve, lends itself to a more adaptive response to mistakes – not just behaviorally, but also neurally: the more someone believes in improvement, the larger the amplitude of a brain signal that reflects a conscious allocation of attention to mistakes. And the larger that neural signal, the better subsequent performance. That mediation suggests that individuals with an incremental theory of intelligence may actually have better self-monitoring and control systems on a very basic neural level: their brains are better at monitoring their own, self-generated errors and at adjusting their behavior accordingly. It’s a story of improved on-line error awareness—of noticing mistakes as they happen, and correcting for them immediately….

The way our brains act, it seems, is sensitive to the way we, their owners, think, from something as concrete to learning, the subject of the current study, to something as theoretical as free will. From broad theories to specific mechanisms, we have an uncanny ability to influence how our minds work—and how we perform, act, and interact as a result.

I’ll certainly be incorporating these finding in future classroom lessons…