Recent Breakthroughs in Brain Research and Implications for Education
There have been many new breakthroughs in education neuroscience that have immense implications for teaching. Here is a short list of some of the recent discoveries that are already impacting education.
Deeper Understanding of What We Already Knew
- Reaffirmed that the human brain continually reorganizes itself on the basis of input. This process, called neuroplasticity, continues throughout our life but is exceptionally rapid in the early years. Thus, the experiences the young brain has in the home and at school help shape the neural circuits that will determine how and what that brain learns in school and later.
- Challenged the notion that the brain can multi-task.
- Revealed more about how the brain acquires spoken language.
- Developed a deeper understanding of circadian cycles to explain why teaching and learning can be more difficult at certain times of day.
- Updated our understandings about working memory.
- Added to our knowledge of how the arts develop the brain.
Changes in What We Thought We Knew
- Startled the scientific world with evidence that neurons in the brain do regenerate, thereby enhancing learning and memory.
Created New Ways of Teaching Based on New Understandings
- Developed scientifically based computer programs that dramatically help young children with reading problems.
Learned How Natural Processes Help us Learn
- Showed how emotions affect learning, memory, and recall.
- Suggested that movement and exercise improve mood, increase brain mass, and enhance cognitive processing.
- Studied the effects of sleep deprivation and stress on learning and memory.
Gained new understanding in adolescent behavior
- Tracked the growth and development of the teenage brain to better understand the unpredictability of adolescent behavior.
Discovered new connections in how environment and culture climate effect learning
- Recognized that intelligence and creativity are separate abilities, and that both can be modified by the environment and schooling.
- Highlighted the degree to which a school’s social and culture climates affect teaching and learning.
As scientists continue to make these breakthroughs, educators will continue to find ways of using this knowledge to enhance their practice. Working together teachers, psychologists, and scientists will find common ground and a common language to transform educational practice.