Birkenbihl's net

The net - analogy of a brain
Why is it so hard to learn a new thing but you cannot quit an annoying habit? It can be all explained by the neural paths in your brain; Though most of us are not neurology expert and thus Vera Birkenbihl from Germany offers us an analogy of our brain function using a simple fishing net. Its knowledge can enhance your learning, goal achieving and can be used for explaining SelectiveAttention.

The net

You brain consist of neurons and their connection. In simplicity each connection represent one knowledge or an experience. It can be imagined as a net created of individual fibers.

The net strengthening

Each time you experience something for the first time a new thread is created (new neural connection). Each repetition strengthens this fiber (neural path). The stronger the path the easier to it is activate it.

Activating - catching with the net

If you experience something, you do not consciously perceive 100% of what is happening. Your attention is dragged to where the strongest neural paths are activated. Imagine a feather (representing an experience) falling down against your net. If the fibers are strong, big and dense you will catch it otherwise it will fall on the ground unnoticed.


Unique fiber usually represent very small amount of our knowledge and information. It's the combination of nets' fibers which allow us to use complex things, solve complicated problems and be attracted to things we usually are (by habit). That is why the more you want to know, be able to use or focus on certain things the denser your net has to be. New thread is created by doing something new and the repetition of the same will only create few strong fibers; but if you explore many connected things then you'll quicken the process of learning and acquiring new skill and you'll expand your comfort zone (strong neural paths, where you feel save because your experience tells you what to do).

Enhance Learning by broad and rich experience

Have you ever noticed how hard is it to learn something by repeating the same piece all over and over again. Like learning one foreign word after another or memorizing historical dates. This way you are creating single strong fiber; Try to catch a fish with single fiber (without fishhook) and compare it with your changes if fishing with a net. Learning is the same. If you're playing with broad range of connected inputs you're creating multiple fibers, maybe not that strong, but you're able to catch more and more knowledge into it every day.


Vera Birkenbihl created a method of learning a new language based on this assumption. It's called the Birkenbihl method.
Foto: Oberazzi

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