Consider some idioms about digestion and learning and you’ll realise it’s a useful analogy. We take in information, digest it (break it down), keep what is useful at the time and discard what’s not. Processing information is like digesting food.
“Chew over it.” “Digest it.” “Take it in.” “It’s too much to swallow.” “Mull over it” (as in chew over). We can “regurgitate” information. “Break it down.” “Feed them information.” “Assimilate.” People “eat” and “devour” books. We can have a “hunger for knowledge.” And of course there’s “food for thought.”
So; is there any difference between the brain/mind and the gastrointestinal tract also known as the alimentary canal? Consider the definition of alimentary and you’ll see the relevance.
Definition: Alimentary; of or relating to nourishment or sustenance.
Therefore, what food does for the body, knowledge does for the brain; they both nourish. Can this analogy be put to practical use to improve education techniques?
Update, May 2016
Giving credence to what I’ve just proposed, research at University Cork shows probiotics help memory and antibiotics harm memory, showing a connection between the digestive tract and the brain! Read more on it at the Guardian .The Irish Times quotes Ted Dinan, professor of psychiatry at UCC:
Prof Dinan said new research had found a link between our gut bacteria and how well we remember things.
“If bugs in the gut are exposed to antibiotics you get less conversion of stem cells into neurons in the brain,” he said.