Threading Thought

Haptics – Learning – Experience

Threading Thought is an engagement tool for adult learners. In grad school, I struggled a bit wanting to learn a lot of new content very quickly and felt frustrated because I perceived my learning process to be slow. Then, I studied neuroanatomy with Dr. William Millberg and realized the usefulness of understanding the mechanics of our cognitive experience. Dr. Millberg’s courses had a profound influence on my graduate studies. As a creative person and user experience researcher, I’m interested in creating a physical tool with knowledge of the users’ cognitive -behavioral processes. Threading Thought is about creating such a physical experience, one that engages the mind, targets specific areas of the brain while be unhindered by design choices.

Threading Thought is an effort to build engagement tools that support the cognitive processes in learning, those that are subconscious and active. In building trust, I think it’s important to exercise and activate our capacity for empathy. I think there are a lot of ways to do this, and particularly with technology. I’m talking about the powers of manipulatives tools such as toys used in learning, that make an impact because they target the user’s haptic senses.

Thus far, clear and concise articulation of my project’ big idea remains elusive. There are feeling the tug of an idea and faith that it will follow, but articulation remains inside its bulwark. I’m curious to know if learning can be enhanced and supported more quickly. I’m asking: How can an adult learner engage with a very tough subject, such as Neuroanatomy, and learn the material more quickly, effectively, and durably? This question inspired thoughts of creating a dynamic web environment that would allow a learner to engage with material that typically, historically, is attained through memorization. The web environment would offer games and interactive activities combining modes of learning.

Understanding the basic tenants of learning is the first step to creating brain tools. These tenants can be sided into two concepts: (1) Expounding on pattern learning and recognition: Support learner’s need to relate new information (in the encoding process) to previous learning (existing memory encoded) and (2) Emphasize web of relationships around bytes of knowledge: The learner works to develop awareness in pattern relationships, challenge processing, and connects those systems.

Neuroscientific research in cognition and learning has shown robust knowledge acquisition, bearing lasting recall and divergent application of this knowledge, is due to the strength in connections around the bytes of information. This project is meant to enhance the neural underpinning cradling acquired knowledge, in bytes and layered concepts.

Prototype #1 – Online Tool
An online, interactive experience targeting the various ways the brain learns. For example a component might be a digital game using sound to punctuate a visual like a “bank” of cognitive systems components that the user would have to construct, e.g. “build that white matter pathway around the somatosensory cortex. Here, the combination of modalities would create a complex memory that would be more durable.

Prototype #2 – Flash Cards
Using categorized cards, existing as a deck of cards prototype future evolutions will capitalize on accepted methods proven in neuroscientific research, activities which promote durable learning. The goal of this project is to support deep learning and facilitate the neural consolidation process via multi-modal, multi-sensory, and self-directed activity. Threading Thought is a conceptual needle and thread pinning bytes of knowledge; through activity, the cognitive process precipitates.


  • Prototype #1 BrainTool_Wireframe_Prototype1_SANDERS
  • Prototype #2: Paper “flash card”: the donut visual represents a sensory target. The content on the reverse side would be read by the user and exercise that sense.




  • Iconic memory, durable learning, metacognition
    • Brief stage pre categorical knowledge acquisition
    • High capacity memory store-if the learner has networks for the information to consolidate
    • Yet is fast decaying-high opportunity to connect, consolidate