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To explore how humans learn as a species is to explore the very cores of cognition and emotion themselves. In its most reduced model, learning is simply the transmission of information from sensory input into long-term memory, with a few checkpoints along the way. In a wider sense, there are infinite ways in which we can learn things and seemingly infinite categories of learning we can partake in. Furthermore, learning is not just about committing a fact to long-term memory—learning a skill is as different from learning a fact as it is from developing a habit, yet all can be viewed as some form of learning or memorization. Some things, like our native language, are learned early on in life, without us really having a choice or making a conscious effort. Others, like playing a musical instrument or riding a bike, require enough deliberate practice for us to eventually treat the act as one of muscle memory. As we discussed in Chapter 1, the ability to delegate complex tasks to our subconscious plays a large role in cognitive economy. Once a task requires little to no conscious attention, it becomes less taxing to perform, allowing us to apply focus elsewhere—should we need or wish to—while we perform it.
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