Mixed testing/studying lead to better memory retention compared to repeated study only. A potentiating influence of tests on encoding, particularly during restudy of non-retrieved items, may contribute to this effect. This study investigated whether and how testing affects brain activity during subsequent restudy of Swahili–Swedish word pairs after a cued-recall test. Item-events during fMRI were categorized according to history (tested/studied only) and recall outcome at prescan and postscan tests. Activity was higher for tested compared to studied-only items in anterior insula, orbital parts of inferior frontal gyrus and hippocampus, and lower in regions implicated in the default network, such as precuneus, supramarginal gyrus and the posterior middle cingulate. Findings are discussed in terms of top-down biasing of attention to tested items with concomitant deactivation of regions in the default network. Increased/focused attention to tested items during restudy may lead to test-potentiated encoding via deeper semantic processing and increased associative binding.
The paper briefly discusses historical and contemporary reasons for fostering the enterprise of establishing education as an applied science, grounded on theoretical and empirical research in the sciences of the mind, brain, and behavior. The bulk of the paper discusses potential risks that threaten the enterprise, and proposes three levels of contribution that cognitive science can bring into: education policymaking, educational research, and educational practice.
It has been shown that preschool children can learn as well from video presentations as from live presentations in word acquisition, action imitation, and object searching. Several cognitive theories have been proposed to explain the developmental changes accompanying the onset of learning from TV, but the underlying neural mechanism is unclear. One possible mechanism is the mirror-matching system, in which observation of action recruits an observer׳s internal motor representation of the same action. Using near-infrared spectroscopy, we examined whether sensorimotor regions are activated when children learn rule-based actions from a live model versus a televised model. The results revealed that children learned the actions equally well from both live and televised models, but activations in the left sensorimotor regions were marginally stronger when learning from the live model than from the televised model. These results may contribute to our understanding of how to support children׳s learning from television.
Among individuals with dyscalculia, prevalence rates for other developmental problems are clearly higher than in the general population. Comorbidity itself therefore constitutes a central characteristic of dyscalculia. Thus, research designs are needed which explicitly account for comorbid problems in order to examine the specificity of any risk or protective factor. Multiple-deficit models seem best suited to explain the heterogeneity of dyscalculia. Numerical processing is proposed as a core deficit associated with problems in arithmetic skills. Individual manifestations of dyscalculia, however, arise from a complex interplay of deficits in numerical processing with other neurobiological, cognitive and environmental factors. The exact nature of these interactions has yet to be determined. Implications of multiple-deficit models for research and clinical practice are discussed.
This issue of Trends in Neuroscience in Education offers some fresh perspectives on developmental dyscalculia. Here we present an overview of different theoretical approaches to identifying and defining developmental dyscalculia, and a consideration of critical measurement and experimental issues. We note a series of important caveats that must be applied when interpreting the existing research base. While there is currently no generally agreed upon functional definition of developmental dyscalculia (DD), the papers collected here represent the wide range of educational and research issues that must be considered when applying neuroscience techniques to the study of developmental disorders of number.
Developmental dyscalculia is a significant neural deficit with broad social impact. A number of techniques have been used to identify the brain basis of dyscalculia, and many of these have highlighted the role of the intraparietal sulci and a left fronto-parietal network in the representation of core number skills. These studies offer conflicting explanations of the neurobiological deficits associated with dyscalculia, and to date few studies have elucidated the timeline of cortical changes involved.
Here we report a volumetric study comparing well-characterized dyscalculic learners aged from 8 to 14 years with tightly matched controls. Using automated cortical parcellation of anatomical MRI, we show that the posterior parietal and fronto-parietal systems in dyscalculia may undergo abnormal development during the pre-teenage and teenage years. As a result, the present study more clearly characterizes the underlying neural basis of dyscalculia than previous studies have hitherto achieved.
Sleep has emerged in the past decades as a key process for memory consolidation and restructuring. Given the universality of sleep across cultures, the need to reduce educational inequality, the low implementation cost of a sleep-based pedagogy, and its global scalability, it is surprising that the potential of improved sleep as a means of enhancing school education has remained largely unexploited. Students of various socio-economic status often suffer from sleep deficits. In principle, the optimization of sleep schedules both before and after classes should produce large positive benefits for learning. Here we review the biological and psychological phenomena underlying the cognitive role of sleep, present the few published studies on sleep and learning that have been performed in schools, and discuss potential applications of sleep to the school setting. Translational research on sleep and learning has never seemed more appropriate.
The successful learning and performance of mathematics relies on a range of individual, social and educational factors. Recent research suggests that executive function skills, which include monitoring and manipulating information in mind (working memory), suppressing distracting information and unwanted responses (inhibition) and flexible thinking (shifting), play a critical role in the development of mathematics proficiency. This paper reviews the literature to assess concurrent relationships between mathematics and executive function skills, the role of executive function skills in the performance of mathematical calculations, and how executive function skills support the acquisition of new mathematics knowledge. In doing so, we highlight key theoretical issues within the field and identify future avenues for research.
In this fMRI study, students learned to solve algebra-like problems in one of the four instructional conditions during behavioral session and solved transfer problems during imaging session. During learning, subjects were given explanatory or non-explanatory verbal instruction, and examples that illustrated the problem structure or the solution procedure. During transfer, participants solved problems that required complex graphical parsing and problems that required algebraic transformations. Explanatory instruction helped in the initial phase of learning, but this benefit disappeared in transfer. The example type had little effect on learning, but interacted with problem type in the transfer. Only for algebraic problems, the structural example led to better transfer than the procedural example. The imaging data revealed no effect of verbal instruction, but found that participants who had studied structural examples showed higher engagement in the prefrontal cortex and angular gyrus. Activity of the right rostrolateral prefrontal cortex in the initial transfer block predicted future mastery.
When people talk, they gesture. We now know that these gestures are associated with learning—they can index moments of cognitive instability and reflect thoughts not yet found in speech. But gesture has the potential to do more than just reflect learning—it might be involved in the learning process itself. This review focuses on two non-mutually exclusive possibilities: (1) The gestures we see others produce have the potential to change our thoughts. (2) The gestures that we ourselves produce have the potential to change our thoughts, perhaps by spatializing ideas that are not inherently spatial. The review ends by exploring the mechanisms responsible for gesture׳s impact on learning, and by highlighting ways in which gesture can be effectively used in educational settings.
Scientific achievements related to brain processes provide innovation and improvements in students’ learning.
The aim of this study was to analyse, relate, and compare learning strategies and academic performance of students from a neuropsychological perspective.
We applied the ACRA scale to 438 students to evaluate learning strategies such as acquisition, codification, retrieval and information processing support. Further, we analysed the influence of these strategies on academic performance.
The findings reveal that, with respect to academic performance, the students show lower scores on acquisition strategies and retrieval compared with the others, and they show more difficulties in Language and Chemistry and Physics. We found that the use of strategies was related to enhanced academic performance for all the students. We also found differences in the use of all strategies depending on academic performance.
Thus, we propose an innovative, neuropsychological and technological intervention program that focuses on learning strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic induced many governments to close schools for months. Evidence so far suggests that learning has suffered as a result. Here, it is investigated whether forms of computer-assisted learning mitigated the decrements in learning observed during the lockdown.
Performance of 53,656 primary school students who used adaptive practicing software for mathematics was compared to performance of similar students in the preceding year.
During the lockdown progress was faster than it had been the year before, contradicting results reported so far. These enhanced gains were correlated with increased use, and remained after the lockdown ended. This was the case for all grades but more so for lower grades and for weak students, but less so for students in schools with disadvantaged populations.
These results suggest that adaptive practicing software may mitigate, or even reverse, the negative effects of school closures on mathematics learning.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic schools all over the world were closed and thereby students had to be instructed from distance. Consequently, the use of online learning environments for online distance learning increased massively. However, the perseverance of using online learning environments during and after school closures remains to be investigated.
We examined German students’ (n ≈ 300,000 students; ≈ 18 million computed problem sets) engagement in an online learning environment for mathematics by means of survival analysis.
We observed that the total number of students who registered increased considerably during and after school closures compared to the previous three years. Importantly, however, the proportion of students engaged also decreased more rapidly over time.
The application of survival analysis provided valuable insights into students’ engagement in online learning - or conversely students’ increased dropout rates - over time. Its application to educational settings allows to address a broader range of questions on students’ engagement in online learning environments in the future.