On Speed of Learning in Infants and Adults

by Win Wenger, Ph.D.
Winsights No. 74 (March 2004)

The thing I had missed on my first read-through, thirty-some years ago, of the first few books of Glenn Doman’s Gentle Revolution, was his emphasis on quick, repeated exposures to all sorts of information. Later books of his do emphasize that point, and make it hard to miss. Had I picked up this point back when I was working with my own children, I think that would have made a huge positive difference. It is not too late, though, for the current generation of babies and toddlers.

Nor is it too late for aspects of this issue which apply to adults to benefit most of us reading these lines.

Infant learning, and adult learning through PhotoReading

There is a distinctive resemblance between how babies hungrily snatch up all sorts of information all the time, everything that’s available even while we are suffocating them down… a resemblance between that and the quick run to the “unconscious” mind in Paul Scheele’s PhotoReading as experienced in adults.

If parents follow the simple fun instructions in Glenn Doman’s Teach Your Baby to Read, and Teach Your Baby Encyclopedic Knowledge, and Teach Your Baby Math (from the bookstore at the Institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential), the baby can know, and appreciate, more math and, indeed, more everything, than otherwise would be taught to him clear through high school. He will have an intuitive feel for the subject which school instruction usually denies to him.

The content of Glenn Doman’s Gentle Revolution methods is always brief, specific, and quickly presented as flash-cards, as part of a happy little game between parent (or grandparent!) and child. — Up in his attention * there’s the information for a second or so boom * (visual and spoken stimulus) * putaway with affection and approval. — As a game when both feel like it, preferably frequently through the day amidst the normal flow of other baby-involved activities. The contents are concrete, intelligible in terms of the senses and concepts the baby already has going at the time, of course, but in any case the information does go in and can be engaged further on.

Best time to start with the Doman material is as soon as the baby is born

Glenn Doman makes the point that learning is survival for a newborn. To a newborn, learning is experienced as one of the greatest possible pleasures. How far down most of us have come from that!!! Most of acculturation apparently gets in the way of that ecstasy of learning and slows things down.

The baby is learning at a rate thousands of times faster than adults or even older children, and in ecstasy instead of the agony and ennui most of us experienced in school. Neurologically, the baby’s pattern-recognizing faculties perform much more strongly, his amphibian pons taking the lead in his brain, than ever will be the case again.

Pattern-recognizing? To learn speech (also the best time to be learning to read) — please see the article “Readiness”. To learn to walk (also the best time to be learning to skate or ski). While his amphibian pons is leading the way in his brain’s development, patterns and outlines most strongly capture your baby’s attention.

In making sense of patterns, your baby is by whole orders of magnitude a genius, figuring out and absorbing effortlessly and joyously information and patterns of information which, if come at later, are a struggle.

Did our genius disappear, or just go “underground?”

As best as we can make out today, there is some degree of “Use it or lose it” effect; we do lose some of our advantage in learning after what so propelled it in us as babies was suffocated for so long. But just like visual thinking as in day-dreaming and Image Streaming, much of that initial ability stayed on and simply went underground.

Every scrap of information and experience that comes our way lodges somewhere in our mind and brain, and with appropriate tools can be recalled to memory. Our modern forms of Socratic Method, and some versions of Image Streaming, appear to be among the best tools for this purpose. No longer needed for this purpose are hypnosis, drugs, or electro-stimulation during neurosurgery.

Over half of our present Project Renaissance methods of learning easily retrieve this information and do so not merely in raw experience form but in intellectually linked, useful form as insights and understandings.

One area where, for most of us, the more powerful and astute remnants of the genius we had as a baby might be very usefully studied, is in Paul Scheele’s procedure of PhotoReading. Assimilating information faster than one page a second is quite common with this procedure.

Contrary to many expectations, up to some as-yet undetermined point the faster you put the information in, the more of it gets understood and made useful.

The more you keep the information from interacting with your conscious mind as it goes in, the more readily it becomes available through the reflexive “unconscious” sorter where our sensory-image-associating brain processes information literally thousands of times faster than does our conscious verbal brain.

Your intention — what you want from the text you are about to PhotoRead — also helps define and speed what you get from that reading once you activate it.

Activating the information you’ve PhotoRead used to be by multiple-choice tests (which limited you to the texts that tests had been made up for), or waiting to hope that information will spring back to mind. Those tests lacked one essential ingredient:  flow. A strong, voluminous flow pulls information into it.

Once you’ve PhotoRead some text, whatever text, Freenote what you think it’s about, or modify the instructions for Windtunnel, and/or Final Exam, and set out your tape recorder or use your friend as a live partner. For a tape recorder, allow half again as long as you would use with the live partner. For writing on a notepad, use twice as long.

I am certain that the success rates and degree of success among PhotoReaders will considerably improve as these methods for activation spread among practitioners. Many PhotoReading classes already use Image Streaming, though mainly to establish certain physiological states for easier learning rather than for the information which Image Streaming draws up from one’s inner genius-in-hiding.

Basic Model in accelerating adult learning

Only a tiny portion of any current experience or information-set goes to the conscious mind or into high-access retrieval areas of the mind and brain. All, or very nearly all, experience and information does lodge in other areas of the brain and mind; but there, in our culture, it is not conventionally retrievable as useful memory.

Rapid-flow expressive procedures such as Windtunnel or Final Exam or Freenote or sensory-language-probing procedures such as Image StreamingBorrowed Genius or Toolbuilder, allow direct access to this information via the responses of a reflexive sorting mechanism at work amongst all that deep-stored data.

This reflexive sorting mechanism very rapidly relates the current situation or context to what it so instantly relates from that seething beyond-conscious sensory-associating data. (Posing yourself a question, or specifying an intention, are several of the ways to define for that sorter your present situation or context.)

In PhotoReading, the faster you put information in and the less you let that incoming information interact with your conscious mind, the more readily that PhotoRead information can be activated. The reason is that there is less getting in the way of letting that sorter sort and of bringing that information back up from the deeper data in useful form. The (very slow) verbal conscious mind tends to try to take over everything it touches, so letting it interact with the PhotoRead stream on the way in blocks the flow and creates obstacles.

At risk of adding complication to the model, I have to note that there is very much a question of how much of the information provided by PhotoReading is already there, there before the person read it?

There certainly is a great amount of a priori information already there in each of us. Paul Scheele and I have agreed that with much of PhotoReading there are actually two stages of “activation”:   the first, inputting state really may not be putting information in so much as it is “priming the pump” with information already there in the tank.

However, as demonstrations by Pete Bissonette and others have made clear, retrieving page numbers, retrieving exact wording, etc., show that at least some of the original theory in PhotoReading still holds true. However the information got there, it got there and can be activated in useful form from there through our reflexive sorting mechanism.

I would not be terribly surprised if high-resolution scans of the brain showed the amphibian, pattern-recognizing pons area of the brain active and highly involved with successful retrieval of understandings via Project Renaissance method and with successful activation of PhotoRead material.

If this is indeed the case, one way to get the success rate of PhotoReading close to 100% would be to develop some procedures training up connections between the pons and the left temporal lobe.


The infant is learning with a much faster part of his brain engaged than we use in our conscious learning as adults, literally thousands of times faster.

Through the ages we adults, not understanding that, have suffocated the child’s learning until he slows down to become like the rest of us. Glenn Doman’s Gentle Revolution books are a start toward feeding the infant’s learning instead of suffocating it down, but we have a very, very long way to go in this regard.

What a coincidence that in PhotoReading, apparently one is also learning hundreds if not thousands of times faster than in conventional reading and learning.

Some day we hope to use modern high-resolution high-speed scanning techniques to measure what goes on in the various areas of the brain during such activities as Image Streaming, PhotoReading, High Thinktank, and Windtunnel — I’m certain those scans will teach us some astonishing things about our brains which we didn’t know before.

Until then, though, I have to think that part of the power of PhotoReading is its engagement of parts of the brain which are most active while a baby or toddler is in his ecstasy of instant learning.

It’s quite a shame to waste it, and to miss out on the fun besides….

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