Canada Association of Tourism Employees

Emotional Studying And The Function Of The Amygdala

Emotional learning and the role of the amygdala in the learning process

The first screen in your eLearning course: This is where the emotions of your online learners are triggered. Neither of us can change it – our amygdala is the part of the brain that deals with the fight / flight response. In terms of emotional e-learning, this center of the brain triggers a feeling in the online learner when they experience negativity. Let’s imagine that their first reaction at the beginning of the eLearning course is, “This is boring!” Or worse, “This is irrelevant!” Your amygdala will make you feel like you want to give up here and there. Fight – they will throw their laptop. Flight – they click the “Finish” button.

What is the amygdala? … A closer look at the nut-shaped neurons

The amygdala is actually a series of neurons in the medial temporal lobe of the brain that bear an uncanny resemblance to an almond. Most of all, it helps us to store memories and process emotional events. However, it also plays a more fundamental role in dealing with fear. For example, if something stimulates our sense of terror, it is our amygdala that determines how we react. With regard to eLearning, it is the responsibility of the developer / designer to ensure that the eLearning environment is conducive to information processing. In short, you don’t want to trigger the amygdala with negative or stressful stimuli that make online learners flee. Or distract them to the point that they cannot absorb the ideas and concepts at all.

Make a positive connection

An emotional connection with eLearning is the greatest impact on memory retention. Emotions trigger memories. So you want to make your eLearning content accessible to the real-world experience of the online learner. Above all, this emotional connection needs to be positive from the splash screen. Then how can you promote a positive eLearning experience? Here are 5 of the best design strategies.

1. Personal learning goals

What can I gain by completing this eLearning course? Is it relevant and interesting to me? Have I done all of this before? Every online learner needs to be able to understand the context behind the eLearning course they are taking. An individual learning path and a set of learning objectives should be in place before starting. This will help them see the value in the eLearning activity. Your analysis of the eLearning course data and learning preferences will help you design appropriate learning objectives.

2nd character

At some point in your eLearning course, you need to relate to a character in order to illustrate a point. There is a lot of room for a negative emotional reaction here. Consider the culture, location and choice of words here very carefully. According to emotional eLearning, an online learner must be able to recognize something of himself or a close colleague in any character you design.

3. Real scenarios and simulations

Use language, visual aids, and stories that speak to the emotions of online learners. This could even include associating online training with a better customer experience. For example something that would improve their working life. Link to the curiosity and individual emotions of online learners by placing them at the center of the story. You can even try to incorporate them into a branching scenario or simulation within the eLearning course if you have suitable eLearning authoring tools.

4. Fun and games!

There is seldom a topic that you come across that is not suitable for a game, quiz, or activity. In general, even the toughest eLearning course benefits from being easier. This helps keep the tone bright and gives the brain a break. It also prevents the possible feelings of boredom, stress, or fear of not understanding. That means you can have too much good. Use humor in small doses and don’t let funny, chatty tones overwhelm the professionalism. Online learners have yet to meet the learning goals and objectives.

5. Challenge – but pitch on the right level

Do you remember sitting in an exam room feeling like you couldn’t quite get the right answer? This is not your memory – it is the amygdala that triggers a “flight” response: panic. Your memory has not failed you. The question was just too difficult for you. Bring this answer to eLearning. What if your online learners experience fear and panic? There is no way that they can perform. Make sure that the challenges you face offer just enough room to grow and learn without causing stress or frustration. (BTW. That was a perfect example of using long-term memory to embed a concept. You imagined this exam room, didn’t you? You won’t forget the advice that was next to this picture.)

Word of warning …

Remember, you need to avoid the amygdala causing a negative reaction at any point in the eLearning course. You need to consistently engage the online learner. Give them a reason to move on to the end. This can be a progress bar, quick quizzes that reward progress badges, or even a “high score” to beat. You need to be especially aware of this when working with “drier” content. Some of the most effective guidelines or legal training will make you forget that you are even learning a new guideline. It feels like a game; or the characters feel like the people you work with and just give their advice.


Let your online learners be mesmerized to take advantage of emotional e-learning. want to participate, know more. You need to challenge yourself and enjoy the activity. If the subject is complex, use breaks and games to change the pace and don’t lose your online learner at the last minute. Note that there are many different ways to subconsciously test the online learner during the course of the eLearning course. A single assessment is rarely the best way to test your understanding and can lead to stress or anxiety. You don’t want the amygdala to go off at the end of the eLearning course too. This can lead to a negative connection.

How do you create an online workout for different temperaments? What learning theories should you consider for your L&D program? We have a wide variety of resources devoted to eLearning-related facts and statistics about the brain.

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