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Last Updated: 21.06.23

Dr. Immordino-​​Yang: How Emotions & Social Factors Impact Learning

Mary Helen Immordino-​​Yang, an esteemed researcher in emotions and learning, joins Huberman to delve into the impact of emotions on education and human development. They explore the significance of emotional understanding for effective learning and advocate for educational reforms. This episode caters to those interested in learning, human development, and education, offering valuable insights and perspectives from the intersection of psychology and neuroscience.

Key Takeaways

High level takeaways from the episode.

Emotions based in pain and emotions based in something rewarding or pleasurable recruit the same brain systems, including the hypothalamus.

Emotions become complex when they pertain to a story that is conjured in our minds, rather than what can be directly witnessed.

Emotions become more dynamic, inferential, and complex as we develop and learn to notice and build stories out of our experiences

  • Activation of default mode systems can be predicted based on psychological reactions to stories

Music in adolescence helps recognize extreme feeling states.

Dehumanization allows people to shift their story set and bring another set of values and beliefs into the space

  • Studies show that under certain conditions, almost anyone would respond to an authoritarian figure and torture someone else

Emotional disposition and mental flexibility key to personal growth and understanding.

Encourage young people to unpack their own beliefs and make their thinking visible.

Expose them to developmentally appropriate opportunities to grow as thinkers, individuals, and community members.

Shift the focus of education from learning outcomes to engaging with complex perspectives and ideas.

Encourage exposure to different ideas and ideologies without necessarily adopting them completely.

Emotions play a crucial role in learning

  • Emotions dictate what we think about and learn from
  • Emotions should be about ideas, not just outcomes

Engage students by setting up rich problem spaces

  • Problems that pique curiosity and are meaningful to the student
  • Start with what the student is interested in and use academic skills to explore that interest

Best instructors combine expertise with intellectual curiosity

  • Teach from a position of both expert and novice
  • Ignites emotional systems in the learner’s brain

Swapping sides in a debate can be a great exercise for understanding opposing views.

Feeling safe allows for exploration of alternative perspectives and narratives.

Deconstructing and understanding why something bothers us can help manage and engage with it in a new way.

Deconstructing problematic ideas is critical to understanding and addressing underlying issues

  • Canceling or negating ideas without understanding them can lead to further problems

Constructing a space for civic discourse

  • Not necessarily agreeing, but constructing and deconstructing meaning together


We recommend using this distillation as a supplemental resource to the source material.

  • Dr. Immordino-​​Yang: How Emotions & Social Factors Impact Learning

    Huberman Lab

    Huberman welcomes Mary Helen Immordino-​​Yang, an authority on emotions and learning, to discuss their impact on education and human development.

Full Notes

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