Brain PathWays Blog

Discover Your Brain Strengths to Navigate Life

A Neuroscience View of Learning Styles

learning styles

Image by LindaH via Flickr

The term “learning styles” is often associated with academic and educational applications. The traditional definition of “learning styles,” however, is a small and incomplete slice of the overall contextual understanding required for successful learning and teaching outcomes. It’s no wonder why there is sometimes controversy and confusion about “learning styles.”

My organization has been working in the field of practical neuroscience since 1992, building brain-based human development products for academic success, personal development and business applications. The purpose of this article is to expand the definition of “learning styles,” so learners and teachers alike can embrace and utilize this essential knowledge. The core principles apply to the totality of life, not just the classroom.

What are “Learning Styles?”

Each person has unique brain pathways preferences to take in and think about sensory information.

  • Sensory Pathways: Visual (seeing), Auditory (listening) and Kinesthetic (hands-on)
  • Cognitive PathWays: Sequential (logical), Global (big picture) and Integrated (cognitively balanced)

A person’s “learning style” is frequently described as their strongest or primary sensory pathway to learn (e.g. being “kinesthetic”). This is a very limited and incomplete way of viewing “learning styles.” The sequence of sensory preferences is important because it takes two or more sensory pathways to lock in received information. As examples, some people need to “see it and hear it,” others may want to “do it and see it,” and some may prefer to “hear it and do it.”

The various sensory sequences are: KVA, KAV, VKA, VAK, AKV and AVK. (K = Kinesthetic,V = Visual, A = Auditory) The lowest sensory score is what you pay least attention to and is called a “blind spot.” Most students are KVA and VKA. Think about the learning challenges of these students, who least prefer listening to the meaning of words, when trying to learn in a lecture setting, with a minimum of visual material and things to do.

The other half of the “learning styles” equation is how you prefer to process or think about sensory information. Some people favor learning and working in predictable, logical, orderly, and process-driven environments. Others require open-ended situations, moving from task to task, and using their imagination to learn and work optimally. The cognitive differences between Sequential and Global thinkers are often overlooked in both the classroom and workplace. It’s frequently the defining factor in achieving successful academic and career outcomes.

An expanded neuroscience definition of “learning styles” is a person’s sensory sequence to take in information and their cognitive preferences to process it. The combination of sensory and cognitive pathways is our representational system for life. It gives us the ability to learn, express, perform, think, solve problems and make decisions.

Who Should Know About “Learning Styles?”

The first and most important person to possess “learning style” knowledge is the “learner.” That’s why putting this information and data in the hands of teachers, alone, provides limited and sometimes disappointing outcomes.

Learning goes well beyond the classroom, self-study or online courses. Our brains are continually receiving sensory information, making choices, reaching conclusions, solving problems, and expressing. These processes constitute the flow and fabric of our lives. Therefore, everyone can benefit from knowing how their brains are wired and what makes them tick.

Reasons to share your “learning styles” information with others (e.g. teachers, spouse, co-workers and friends) include improving communications so they can transmit on your “wavelength.” It’s also helpful, in the workplace, to align work activities with brain strengths. Alignment improves morale, engagement and productivity.

What is the Role of Teachers?

I believe successful teachers are continuous learners, who are passionate about their careers. They learn from their students and exchange “best practices” with other teachers. Teachers know that students learn for their own reasons, not those of the teacher. Great teachers encourage their students to discover how their brains prefer to learn and think. They coach them to take responsibility for their own learning and leverage their brain strengths. Successful teachers establish safe and non-judgmental environments. They provide learning resources and encourage their students to teach one another; the highest form of learning is teaching.


The neuroscience meaning of “learning styles” is the foundation for accelerated learning, successful careers, better relationships and personal growth. Knowing how your brain prefers to learn and think is the key to a better and less stressful life. Everyone interested in improving their quality-of-life will benefit from this important knowledge.

Author Message:
You may not be aware that our organization is a trusted and respected source of reliable practical neuroscience solutions for personal and organizational development.  We have been creating and delivering brain-based human development solutions, since 1992. The message that follows directs you to a quick, easy, and low cost solution you may be searching for.

Are you are anxious, stressed, and worried about your, or your kids’,educational success? Brain PathWays for Academic Success, based on recent advances in neuroscience and personalized, accelerated learning strategies, is the most comprehensive system available for learning success. Does it make sense that when you learn with the way your brain works, instead of against the way it works, you will experience less stress and learn more, faster? Click to purchase your copy of Brain PathWays for Academic Success today!

15 comments on “A Neuroscience View of Learning Styles

  1. Pingback: Using Practical Neuroscience for Fast, Easy Learning | Brain PathWays Blog

  2. Pingback: Two Quick Ways to Kick-Start Your Personal Productivity | Brain PathWays Blog

  3. Pingback: Win the Motivation Tug-of-War With Simple Practical Neuroscience Laws | Brain PathWays Blog

  4. Pingback: Career Success Factors for Information Technology (IT) Professionals | Brain PathWays Blog

  5. Pingback: Boosting Trader Performance With Neuroscience | Brain PathWays Blog

  6. Pingback: Four Steps to Dream Team Performance | Brain PathWays Blog

  7. Pingback: Danger Signs That You May Be at Risk for First Round Job Layoffs | Brain PathWays Blog

  8. Pingback: Secret Weapon For Job Hunters and Career Changers | Brain PathWays Blog

  9. Pingback: Can Practical Neuroscience Methods Help Adults with ADHD? | Brain PathWays Blog

  10. Pingback: Performance Strategies For Kinesthetic Learners | Brain PathWays Blog

  11. Pingback: Practical Neuroscience Approach to Personal Mastery | Brain PathWays Blog

  12. Pingback: Three Reasons Why People Talk More and Listen Less | Brain PathWays Blog

  13. I just sent you an email in response to your reply to a comment posted elsewhere on your site. As I indicated in that missive, I will not be available for contact until at least January 12, 2011, but I am “scattering some breadcrumbs” to remind both of us (or all three of us) that I would love to engage in a discussion of this post in particular. I am in the throes of writing a book (working title: The Modalities Method), based on 20 years of investigation into “thinking/learning/anchoring” styles. I inkle that we would have much to share on this topic.

    Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, SCAC, MCC – (blogging at ADDandSoMuchMore and on ADDerWorld – dot com!)
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

  14. Pingback: Practical Neuroscience Approach for Homeschooling Parents | Brain PathWays Blog

  15. Pingback: Hot Tips for Exceptional Rapport | Brain PathWays Blog

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Follow me on Twitter

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 990 other subscribers

More from Brain PathWays

Visit us at to discover your unique personal brain strengths and how you can use them to navigate life.

While you're there, sign up to receive Free Daily Messages From Your Brain for fun, fact-filled insights into how your brain works!

%d bloggers like this: