David Bueno

Biologist and geneticist

"The brain learns nothing without emotions"

Neuroeducation: this is how your brain changes when you learn.

David Bueno, a biologist and teacher of genetics, explains how your brain changes when you learn.


My name is David Bueno and I teach at the University of Barcelona in the Genetics Department. I have always studied the relationship between genetics and the brain, how our brains end up the way they do as a result of genetics. That's why I work in neuroscience. Neuroscience is behavior, behavior is learning, or learning is part of our behavior. Around ten or twelve years ago I started to look into neuroeducation, which is about how our brains learn and how we can make the most of how our brains function. And that's what I wanted to talk to you about today.

Neuroscience is still a relatively unknown science as we have only studied the human brain in detail for fifteen to twenty years. Our brains save everything we learn using a specific pattern of connections.

Our brains are made up of cells and neurons. Each person's brain has approximately eighty-five billion neurons. However, the number of neurons is not important. We need a minimum number of neurons to function as human beings. Having more or fewer neurons won't make you any more or less clever or creative. What matters as far as the brain is concerned are the connections between each of these neurons. Our brains have around two billion connections. Anything we learn alters some of these connections. Memory is stored in this pattern of connections. 

Therefore, when we learn something, our brains change. They change physically because they make new connections. That's what learning is. Not only that. The more connections you make when you learn something, the better you will remember it and the more efficiently you will be able to use it. If you connect more areas of your brain when you learn something, this will also help you to remember it better and use it more efficiently. This means that you need context and to use different areas of your brain in order to learn something well. You need to add elements to the learning process in order to create context. This is what the brain needs and wants in order to learn anything, such as concepts, attitudes and abilities. It doesn't matter. Your brain will identify different domains and automate some processes. Abilities will end up being automated, while concepts won't. That's what learning is as regards connections. Make new connections.

Learn more about David Bueno

David Bueno has a PhD in biology and teaches genetics at the University of Barcelona. He specializes in neuroscience. Mr. Bueno won the European Prize for Scientific Dissemination and also wrote the books "Cerebroflexia" ("Cerebroflexy") and "Neurociencia para educadores" ("Neuroscience For Educators").
Can you learn through fear? Yes, as long as it is not an excessive fear that paralyzes you. You can learn with a subtle level of fear such as the fear of failure or of being punished, etc. However, the result of this in the medium to long-term is damaging because the brain finds it very easy to associate learning with fear. When a person is no longer obliged to continue learning, i.e. when they've finished their studies, they won't want to learn anything new because they will automatically and subconsciously associate learning with fear. These people won't enjoy life as much as every day they'll be frightened that their lives might change. What emotions help us to learn and become people who in the medium to long-term will want to instigate change and who will not be afraid of different experiences, innovation or learning something new? One is joy, which communicates to other people that there's nothing to fear and that you don't pose a threat to them, just like they don't pose a threat to you, which means that we can trust each other and grow together. Learning through joy means learning with confidence.

"The brain is dynamic, not static. It is in constant flux, channeling information from one place to another. This information may be knowledge or concepts, but mostly it involves attitudes and abilities." 

See the full video here.