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What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning?

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Abstract

The development and popularity of brain science have driven many people to look to the brain for answers to improving learning. Cognitive neuroscience as an interdisciplinary area of research with a focus on human cognition has the potential to connect the brain and education. This paper explores what cognitive neuroscience can (and cannot) do to enhance our understanding of education and learning by examining in greater depth why certain previous attempts to bridge this gap are more successful than others. This paper also discusses the implications of this merge for scientists and educators, and future directions for research in neuroscience and neuroengineering.
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REVIEW
Copyright © 2013 by American Scientific Publishers
All rights reserved.
Printed in the United States of America
Journal of Neuroscience
and Neuroengineering
Vol. 2, pp. 393–399, 2013
(www.aspbs.com/jnsne)
What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance
Our Understanding of Education and Learning?
Hon Wah Lee1,2, and Chi-Hung Juan2,
1Graduate Institute of Learning and Instruction, National Central University, Jhongli City 320, Taiwan
2Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, National Central University, Jhongli City 320, Taiwan
The development and popularity of brain science have driven many people to look to the brain for answers
to improving learning. Cognitive neuroscience as an interdisciplinary area of research with a focus on human
cognition has the potential to connect the brain and education. This paper explores what cognitive neuroscience
can (and cannot) do to enhance our understanding of education and learning by examining in greater depth
why certain previous attempts to bridge this gap are more successful than others. This paper also discusses
the implications of this merge for scientists and educators, and future directions for research in neuroscience
and neuroengineering.
KEYWORDS: Cognitive Neuroscience, Brain, Education, Learning.
CONTENTS
Introduction ....................................393
Contribution of Cognitive Neuroscience to Our Understanding
of Education and Learning ..........................394
Misuse of Neuroscience in Education and Learning ...........396
Successfully Bridging the Gap Between Cognitive Neuroscience
and Education: How? ..............................397
A Right Frame of Mind Is Needed in Viewing the
Integration of Neuroscience and Education ..............397
Raising Awareness and Improving Communication .........397
Directions for Future Research in
Cognitive Neuroscience ..........................397
Acknowledgments ................................398
References and Notes ..............................398
INTRODUCTION
The focus of neuroscience is the study of the biological
brain. Yet how studying the structure and functions of the
brain enables us to understand education and learning may
not be as straightforward as in other cross-disciplinary col-
laborations. With the advance of neuroscientific research
and techniques, many people begin to look to the brain
for answers to understanding learning and even improving
education, but the proposal and attempt to bring together
neuroscience and education have drawn a lot of discus-
sion from scholars in the fields of education and various
scientific disciplines. The possibility of bridging this gap
has thus far been filled with both scepticism and cautious
optimism.
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Emails: honnes.lee@gmail.com, chijuan@cc.ncu.edu.tw
Received: 15 March 2013
Accepted: 12 May 2013
When neuroscientific techniques were first applied to
the study of human cognition, it raised concerns from edu-
cators about how much could be gained about learning
from studying the brain. For example, Holt [1] argues that
the human mind is very complicated but brain research
techniques may only provide us with data at a level so
crude compared to the brain activity that studying the
mind based on such data is analogous to learning about
the ocean by sampling a bucket of water obtained from
the ocean. Holt [1] and Fischer [2, 3] also question the
extent to which studies carried out in laboratory settings
(such as wearing an eye camera with one’s head fixed on
a chin rest in a reading experiment) can reliably help us
make judgments about what people do in real-life situa-
tions (e.g., reading that takes place in a school classroom
or at home). These concerns highlight the crucial role of
reliable brain research tools and methods in assessing cog-
nition and learning if we hope to bring the fields of neu-
roscience and education closer together.
Other scholars are concerned about the fundamental
incompatibility of the two fields of study [4–8], as neuro-
science and education have their roots in different philoso-
phies (natural science vs social science) and study humans
at different levels of analysis (synaptic vs behavioural).
Bruer [4] comments that drawing conclusions from what
we know about changes in the brain to guide what we do
in a classroom is “trying to build a bridge too far” (p. 4),
and Howard-Jones [7] asserts that this “simple transmis-
sion model should never be expected to work” (p. 111).
Nonetheless, this bridge is not impossible to build.
One possible mediator between neuroscience and edu-
cation, as some have proposed, is cognitive neuroscience.
J. Neurosci. Neuroeng. 2013, Vol. 2, No. 4 2168-2011/2013/2/393/007 doi:10.1166/jnsne.2013.1064 393
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What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning? Lee and Juan
REVIEW
Encompassing diverse areas of study including cognitive
psychology, systems neuroscience and computational neu-
roscience, cognitive neuroscience seeks to understand the
underlying neural mechanisms of cognitive processes and
therefore takes advantage of the interface between brain,
mind and behaviour. Developing a more integrated under-
standing of brain, mind and behaviour is useful for advanc-
ing our understanding of education and learning because
learning is primarily related to how the brain works to sup-
port knowledge construction and skill acquisition whereas
education is about providing opportunities and environ-
ments for learners to best achieve these goals. Bruer
[4, 5] believes that this indirect route between neuroscience
and education which is mediated by cognitive psychol-
ogy would be profitable because, firstly, the connections
between cognitive psychology and teaching and learning
have already been well established, and secondly, the com-
bination of both methods and models of cognitive psy-
chology and brain research techniques enables cognitive
neuroscientists to study how mental functions underlying
learning are implemented in the structural properties of
our cognitive architecture. Geake [9, 10] is also hopeful
that this interface between brain, mind and behaviour made
possible by cognitive neuroscience can add another level
of understanding to our conception of learning within a
bio-psycho-social framework.
Against this background of scepticism and cautious opti-
mism, the goal of this paper is to take a closer look at this
connection between neuroscience and education by explor-
ing what cognitive neuroscience can (and cannot) do to
help us understand education and learning. This will be
done by examining in greater depth why certain previous
Hon Wah Lee is currently a Ph.D. candidate at National Central University, Taiwan. He is
also an experienced English language teacher and has taught extensively at secondary, post-
secondary and tertiary levels in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Bolivia and Australia. In his experience
working with many low achievers, he became interested in the question of how to help them
learn so as to achieve their full potential. He realised that he also had to understand how the
brain learns in order to profitably explore this question. Given his background, Hon Wah
is particularly interested in using a cross-disciplinary approach to studying the relationship
between learning and the developing brain.
Chi-Hung Juan earned a D.Phil. degree from the Department of Experimental Psychology,
University of Oxford, UK and did his postdoctoral training in the Department of Psychology,
Vanderbilt University, USA. He was a Taiwan-USA Fulbright scholar and visiting professor
of the University of California, Irvine and the University of Oxford. He is currently a dis-
tinguished Professor in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, National Central University,
Taiwan. The institute was founded in 2003, Chi-Hung Juan is one of the founder members
of the institute.
attempts to bridge this gap are more successful than oth-
ers. This paper ends by discussing what implications this
merge has for scientists and educators, and future direc-
tions for research in neuroscience and neuroengineering.
CONTRIBUTION OF COGNITIVE
NEUROSCIENCE TO OUR UNDERSTANDING
OF EDUCATION AND LEARNING
One primary concept in cognitive neuroscience that is most
relevant to our understanding of learning is “neuroplastic-
ity,” which essentially means that the brain can be changed
after birth as a result of experience or environment. The
reassuring fact about neuroplasticity is that the brain can
be changed, but it should not be overlooked that it also
means the brain can be changed for better or for worse.
Maguire and her colleagues [11, 12] investigated how
learning changes the brain in a series of cross-sectional
and longitudinal studies involving qualified London taxi
drivers. To pass stringent examinations for an operating
licence, it typically takes taxi drivers in London 3–4 years
to navigate and become familiar with the complex layout
of the city. In addition to showing superior knowledge
about London landmarks and their spatial relationships,
these taxi drivers were also found to have greater gray
matter volume in their posterior hippocampi, a region that
plays a key role in memory and navigation, which var-
ied as a function of years of taxi driving. Such struc-
tural changes in the brain, however, were not observed
in non-taxi drivers, suggesting that the differences are
likely to be explained not simply by expertise in driv-
ing but rather by experience of navigating in a complex,
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Lee and Juan What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning?
REVIEW
large-scale spatial layout. It would be expected that such
effects of extensive learning would be long-lasting, but
surprisingly, the observed effects on memory and on the
brain can be reversed rather easily and quickly. When the
elderly taxi drivers retired after driving for over 30 years
and their acquired spatial memory and navigation skills
were no longer practised, their brains exhibited a reversal.
At just over three years after retirement, their performance
on tests of London knowledge fell back to a level simi-
lar to the retired non-taxi driver control participants. Their
gray matter volume had also become significantly smaller
as compared to still-working taxi drivers. In short, their
exceptional abilities in memory were almost lost.
In the London taxi driver studies, investigating both
the cognitive and neural underpinnings of skill acquisition
offers evidence in support of the brain’s capacity for neu-
roplasticity even well into adulthood. The use of structural
and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) tech-
niques further reveals that, in the process of learning and
becoming expert in a specific skill, both the structure and
function of the brain alter in response to constant prac-
tice, but the advantage brought about to the brain by years
of extensive practice can be reversed as soon as practice
ceases.
Some experiential and environmental impacts made to
the brain, on the other hand, are less reversible. Meaney
and his colleagues have studied how experiences can
rewrite the epigenetic code in the brain’s genes. They
found in a series of experiments with newborn rat pups
[13–16] that those who were frequently licked or groomed,
and were nursed in the arched-back posture during the first
week of life by their mothers grew up to be less easily
stressed and more curious to explore in a novel environ-
ment than pups who were not. More importantly, these dif-
ferences in behavioural responses to stress and novelty did
not emerge from inheritance of their genetic make-ups. As
Meaney and his colleagues discovered, mother-pup inter-
action altered the expression of one of the genes involved
in regulating stress responses, the glucocorticoid receptor
gene, in the offspring’s hippocampus.
Environmental influence on gene expression occurs not
only in rats. That early experiences can leave long-lasting
epigenetic marks in the brain can also be observed in
humans. Meaney’s research team [17] examined post-
mortem hippocampal samples obtained from suicide vic-
tims with a history of child abuse and found that they
exhibited decreased levels of glucocorticoid receptor in the
hippocampus compared to non-abused suicide victims and
non-suicidal controls. This finding corroborates the effect
of parental care on behaviour and on epigenetic changes
in gene expression in the human brain. The combination
of neuroscientific and genetic techniques in these studies
allows us to observe the long-term effects of behaviour on
the architecture of the brain.
From an educational perspective, these rat and human
brain studies offer another dimension of looking at the
question of nature and nurture. What unfolds from the
above findings is that genetic influence is not deterministic.
The environmental context also plays a role in determining
one’s development. In other words, nature interacts with
nurture during development. In the case of early neglect or
abuse, variations in postnatal parental nurturance alter the
expression of genes in the hippocampus that mediate stress
regulation, leading to the formation of lasting individual
differences in stress reactivity and even diminished mem-
ory capacity [18]. This is relevant to our understanding of
education and learning because, as we have discussed, edu-
cation is about providing opportunities and environments
that foster optimal learning, and the above findings high-
light the importance of raising public awareness regard-
ing how sensitive and responsive parenting in the early
years affects children’s psychosocial and cognitive devel-
opment and the need to integrate early child care and par-
enting support as elements to support children’s learning.
Although Meaney’s team [19] have also shown that such
maternal effects on behavioural and endocrine responses
to stress in rat pups can be reversed with cross-fostering
by caring mothers, it seems highly unfeasible in humans
to randomly remove a neglected or abused child from their
biological family. This is where teachers become all the
more important, as they are in a good position to iden-
tify vulnerable children through day-to-day encounters and
provide much needed love and care for these children in
the school setting.
In another line of investigation, Mischel and his col-
leagues [20] studied 4-year-old children’s self-control
using a delay of gratification paradigm. Children were
given a marshmallow and were then asked to wait for the
experimenter to return, in which case they could get a sec-
ond marshmallow. If they preferred not to wait, they could
ring a bell to signal the experimenter to return immedi-
ately but they would not get another marshmallow. In the
subsequent follow-up studies which have spanned over
40 years [21–24], Mischel and his colleagues observed
that those who could delay gratification successfully as
children were generally better able to cope academically,
socially and emotionally as adolescents and as adults than
those who were not willing to wait. Similar findings were
also reported in another longitudinal study by Moffitt and
colleagues [25].
To conceptualise the underlying processes of self-con-
trol, they proposed a model called the cognitive-affective
personality system [26–28], which posits that the ability
to self-regulate is a result of the dynamic interplay of two
systems: a “cool” cognitive system and a “hot” emotional
system. According to this hot/cool framework, individu-
als with more effective self-regulation are those who can
strategically access the cool system and suppress the hot
system as the circumstance demands. For example, chil-
dren who try to concentrate on the shape of the marsh-
mallow or pretend that it is just a picture (i.e., the “cool”
J. Neurosci. Neuroeng., 2, 393–399, 2013 395
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What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning? Lee and Juan
REVIEW
features) are more likely to resist the temptation of eating
the marshmallow right away than those who focus on its
smell or taste (i.e., the “hot” features).
To investigate the behavioural and neural correlates of
self-control, they employed fMRI in a longitudinal follow-
up study [24] and used a go/no-go task to measure par-
ticipants’ impulse control, in which there were a cool and
a hot condition. Instead of marshmallows, they used emo-
tional human faces as the hot condition and neutral faces as
the cool condition. The imaging results revealed that par-
ticipants who found it difficult to withhold their responses
to happy faces showed less recruitment of the right infe-
rior frontal gyrus but more recruitment of the ventral stria-
tum than those who were more successful at controlling
their impulses. The right inferior frontal gyrus has been
shown to be involved in inhibition and attentional control
(the “cool” system), whereas the ventral striatum is associ-
ated with emotional or motivational processing (the “hot”
system). Together, the findings indicate that self-control
is supported by the ventral frontostriatal circuitry, which
involves an interaction of both the cool and hot systems
as proposed by the cognitive-affective personality system.
In this example, the cognitive model proposed by
Mischel and his colleagues provides a framework that con-
strains explanation for the behavioural findings obtained
from the delay-of-gratification paradigm, whereas the use
of fMRI helps to delineate the neural mechanisms involved
in self-control by building on the mapping of brain func-
tions made possible by previous neuroscientific studies.
What educators can learn from this line of investigation
is that self-control is important because not only does it
appear to be a rather stable personal characteristic but it
also has predictive validity for one’s academic success and
life outcomes. Given its importance, parents and teachers
should be concerned with how they can foster in chil-
dren the ability to regulate themselves. Despite the stability
of self-control, research has shown that it is amenable to
intervention even very early in life. Mischel and colleagues
[28] found that manipulating how children mentally rep-
resent a marshmallow, such as cueing them to think about
the marshmallow as a framed picture or its cool, infor-
mational features, can significantly increase their waiting
time. Training children to employ cognitive and atten-
tional deployment strategies such as mental representa-
tions is a way to improve their self-control. In addition,
some preschool programmes that emphasise the training of
self-control skills within the regular curriculum have also
proven effective in helping at-risk children succeed aca-
demically [29]. Educators should rethink how the school
curriculum can be adapted or redesigned to encompass not
only academic subjects but also self-control strategies to
bring about more successful learning experience.
The three lines of investigation presented above rep-
resent some successful attempts in forging a meaningful
collaboration between neuroscience and learning. Their
successes lie in a number of factors. Firstly, many of these
efforts originated from an in-depth observation of a real-
life behaviour, which gradually evolved into a research
endeavour that took many years to develop. Secondly,
these research endeavours integrated a multitude of meth-
ods in studying brain, mind and behaviour, and provided
interpretation of results with evidence across different lev-
els of analysis. Thirdly, the use of brain research tools
for investigation was often preceded by an animal model
or the formation of a cognitive model that describes the
behaviour in sufficient detail and precision.
MISUSE OF NEUROSCIENCE IN
EDUCATION AND LEARNING
The efforts described above are certainly highly valued and
have enhanced our understanding of learning in a broader
sense. However, other attempts at linking neuroscience and
education are discouraging and can even be considered
misuse of brain science in learning. For example, because
of the overhyped “right-left brain theory” in the media,
many people including parents and teachers have come
to believe that the two sides of the brain are responsible
for very different functions and should be trained sepa-
rately: language and numbers for the logical left brain, and
music and images for the emotional, artistic right brain.
This way of viewing the brain or categorising learners has
been taken fully on board by many parents and teachers
without realising that the concept of brain lateralisation
originally came from observations in split-brain patients
who suffered from epilepsy [30–31].
These patients had their corpus callosum surgically sep-
arated to control for interhemispheric spread of epilepsy.
It was found that when the left and the right hemispheres
were unable to communicate with each other, patients
were only able to see and describe an object presented
to the right visual field (which is processed by the left
hemisphere) but were unable to name it verbally if it
was presented to the left visual field (which is processed
by the right hemisphere) even though they could give a
non-verbal response by pointing to a similar object. Fur-
ther studies involving split-brain patients gave rise to the
idea that the left hemisphere specialises in language func-
tions while the right hemisphere visual-spatial functions.
Extrapolating such findings to healthy humans to sug-
gest that there is left/right brain dominance misses an
important point that the two hemispheres of the brain in
healthy humans, unlike in split-brain patients, are con-
nected anatomically and functionally by the corpus callo-
sum. While there are data suggesting that the two sides
of the brain process information differently and that cer-
tain functions are lateralised, the corpus callosum enables
exchange of information between the two hemispheres
such that the brain works as an integrated whole [32].
In addition, the classification of and training for right-brain
or left-brain learners are problematic because there is no
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Lee and Juan What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning?
REVIEW
easy mapping between a task and hemispheric functions.
A task that is thought to engage one hemisphere also likely
involves the other. For example, the processing of lan-
guage involves the left hemisphere in processing grammar
and the right hemisphere in processing orthography and
phonology. It is also evident from numerous neuroscien-
tific studies that many different areas in both hemispheres
of the brain are activated even when we perform a simple
task such as pointing our finger.
As can be seen in this and many other examples [for a
detailed discussion of brain myths, see Refs. [4, 33–35]],
a lot of popular brain myths are the unfortunate result of
“over-simplifications of some neuroscientific findings [9].
Other brain myths have come from media coverage of
neuroscientific findings that were selectively biased [36].
These myths and many so-called “brain-based” parenting
tips and teaching ideas derived from such oversimplified or
biased reports have become popular and widely accepted
for one major reason: they appear to be able to provide
seemingly easy, workable solutions to educational prob-
lems faced by parents and teachers that they cannot read-
ily solve (such as raising a child’s score or improving a
child’s attention). The anticipation for quick-fix solutions
is exactly where the problem lies.
What cognitive neuroscience, or neuroscience, can tell
us (at least at the present stage) is largely descriptive rather
than prescriptive, as demonstrated in the research stud-
ies above. However, it cannot possibly and should not be
expected to answer such educational questions as how to
choose a preschool based on findings from brain develop-
ment as many would have hoped [4]. Neither can it offer
quick-fix solutions nor ready-made recipes for teaching
that can be adopted universally [33, 37].
SUCCESSFULLY BRIDGING THE GAP
BETWEEN COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE
AND EDUCATION: HOW?
A Right Frame of Mind Is Needed in Viewing the
Integration of Neuroscience and Education
The juxtaposition of the research endeavours presented
earlier and the issue of brain myths described just now
contrasts what progress researchers are making and what
the public expect with regard to applying neuroscience to
informing education. In the research domain, combining
neuroscience and education inevitably takes a slow, grad-
ual process as such attempts need to be built on obser-
vations, theories and models, and involve the integration
of multiple disciplines. In contrast, the public’s view that
they can draw conclusions from brain research that are
immediately relevant to their educational needs, unfortu-
nately, appears overly simplistic, and has often led to high
but unrealistic expectations of what this joint venture can
bring [3, 38]. Therefore, the first step to successfully inte-
grating brain research and education depends crucially on
all stakeholders having a right frame of mind towards
the potential of this collaboration. This could be fostered,
in part, by an increased awareness and understanding of
the current progress in brain research and its application
to educational issues.
Raising Awareness and Improving Communication
Clearly, the crux of the problem of brain myths is that the
public, especially parents and teachers, are misinformed
or ill-informed. Much about the current findings of the
relationship between the brain and learning is far from
fully understood, because not only is there a gap between
the nature of neuroscience and education that needs to be
bridged, but there also exists a gap between what neuro-
scientists know about education and what educators know
about neuroscience [34]. To bridge this gap between neu-
roscientists and educators, many scholars have emphasised
the need for reciprocal interaction between researchers of
the two fields, which should take place at two levels: to
mutually inform [4, 10, 39], and to mutually scrutinise
during the transfer of concepts [3, 8].
However, this interaction would be established on the
foundation that they can understand each other in the
first place. Because neuroscience is a highly specialised
domain, to ensure that educators and other non-specialists
are ready to participate in discussion with neuroscientists,
it is of great importance for neuroscientists to commu-
nicate their research in ways that are digestible to the
untrained audience [40] yet at the same time not over-
simplified as to become misleading [34]. Communication
of findings should not be restricted to academic journals
but should also be via other channels that are more acces-
sible by the wider community.
Directions for Future Research in
Cognitive Neuroscience
From the discussion earlier, concerns from scholars about
the difficulty in bridging the gap between neuroscience and
education are related to the intrinsic differences between
the two fields of study, the research settings, and the
level of details in the data we can obtain from brain
research. Apparently, future research in cognitive neuro-
science should emphasise these three aspects in order to
address the scholars’ concerns.
Brain Research Based on Cognitive
Theories and Models
One present contribution of cognitive neuroscience to
our understanding of learning is its description of
neural mechanisms underlying different cognitive func-
tions. Bruer [5] believes that neuroscience might also help
advance our understanding of learning by providing more
details at the neural level to help improve and refine cogni-
tive theories and models, such as in the case of the hot/cool
model in delay-of-gratification research. There are two rel-
evant points future cognitive neuroscientific research could
emphasise: firstly, it could aim to provide a finer level of
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What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning? Lee and Juan
REVIEW
details about cognitive functions by studying their under-
lying neural circuitry at the level of subcomponent skills
based on existing cognitive models developed in cognitive
psychology. Secondly, it could also move beyond estab-
lishing mappings between brain areas and cognitive func-
tions to investigate how activation patterns are related to
learning.
Research in Classroom Settings
With regard to the concerns about the reliability and gen-
eralisability of data conducted in laboratory environments,
future brain research could consider to be conducted in
classroom settings [2, 3]. One of the goals of this research
could be to re-test in a classroom setting what has pre-
viously been found to work in a laboratory [37]. How-
ever, several issues have to be tackled when planning and
conducting such experiments in the classroom. A lot of
the equipment for brain recording or imaging is not eas-
ily portable and requires that the participant be wired to
a machine. How could this equipment be transported to a
school and set up in a classroom that is less susceptible to
interference from the surrounding environment or the par-
ticipant’s bodily movement while at the same time without
making the participant feel unnatural or uneasy, and with-
out causing inconvenience to the teacher? In addition, exe-
cution of such experiments in a large class or in a group
setting may be problematic and time-consuming, espe-
cially when young children are involved. How can it be
ensured that all the participants are following the instruc-
tions given by the experimenter and that the data obtained
are reliable? These questions become critical when the set-
ting of experiment is changed from the laboratory to the
classroom.
Development of Neuroengineering Tools
From the perspective of neuroengineering, new break-
throughs in brain recording and imaging tools would be
vitally important. As can already be seen, conducting brain
research in the field of practice would certainly require
new recording and imaging technologies and equipment be
designed with greater portability, functionality and user-
friendliness in mind. While it is understandable that new
tools take time to develop, future research in the short term
should aim to improve technologies that can overcome
the limitations of existing research tools. This includes
capturing brain activity in greater levels of precision in
terms of both temporal and spatial resolutions, reducing
the risk associated with some of these tools (such as
positron emission tomography), and simplifying the pro-
cess and shortening the time required for data output and
analysis. Advances in neuroengineering techniques, pre-
dictably, also depend on advances in our understanding of
the brain. The more we understand neural structures, func-
tioning and computations, and how development, diseases
and damages to the brain affect cognition and learning, the
more successful we are in developing potentially useful
techniques and applications for neuroeducational research.
Therefore, a concerted effort that involves neuroscientists
and other professions including clinicians, physicists, and
mathematicians is not only useful but also necessary to
drive neuroengineering breakthroughs.
In addition to addressing the three concerns above,
future research in cognitive neuroscience could also pay
closer attention to questions that are more directly rele-
vant to educators, such as improving student learning. For
example, the taxi driver studies indicate a close connection
between memory and learning and highlight the need for
constant practice in maintaining or even improving one’s
memory capacity. The notion of memory training would be
an area of interest for future research. There is some recent
evidence [e.g., Ref. [41]] suggesting that working memory
could be improved by adaptive and extended computerised
training, with benefits observed in changes in brain activity
in associated brain regions and improvements in other non-
trained cognitive tasks. To ensure that such training can
be successfully applied to education, questions such as the
mechanism through which training leads to improvements
in memory, the optimal duration of training, the effects on
people of different ages and sexes, the extent of improve-
ment that can be achieved, and how long the improvement
will last would all need to be answered by future research.
Acknowledgments: We are grateful to Daisy L. Hung,
Ovid J. L. Tzeng and Yu-Hui Lo for their constructive com-
ments on the manuscript. This work was supported by the
National Science Council, Taiwan (100-2511-S-008-019,
97-2511-S-008-005-MY3, 101-2628-H-008-001-MY4,
102-2420-H-008-001-MY3, 97-2511-S-008-008-MY5).
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Lee and Juan What Can Cognitive Neuroscience Do to Enhance Our Understanding of Education and Learning?
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... Para ahli pendidikan dan ahli neurosains perlu menjadi timwork dalam membangun pemahaman baru tentang proses belajar di otak dan segala dinamikanya berdasarkan perkembangan ilmu terkini. Titik temu keduanya tidaklah mudah namun upaya ini harus dilakukan, mulai dari kegiatan penelitian hingga implementasinya di sekolah secara perlahan [6]. ...
... Kesulitan belajar juga dapat diatasi dengan lebih mudah. Kemampuan otak di usia sekolah dasar memberikan peluang untuk bisa belajar lebih fleksibel, karena otak yang bersifat plastis atau dikenal sebagai neuroplastisitas otak [6]. ...
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Open Architecture Curriculum Design (OACD) is constitutes an emerging curricular design paradigm, which supports many innovative language-teaching approaches originated in the socio-constructivist theory of knowledge acquisition and the transformative pedagogy trend. OACD recommends a non-textbook-based modular structure of the curriculum, which is reflected in interchangeable self-contained units of instruction sequenced according to students’ level, interests, and needs. The emerging OADC theory primarily has been developed in the learning contexts of English or the Roman languages (Spanish and French) and focuses on higher proficiency levels where grammatical competence is already solidified in years of language instruction. Is OACD suitable for teaching languages with strong inflectional structures (such as Russian) at law provenience levels, which require grammar patterns assimilation and involve specific cognitive resources and therefore specific instructional procedures? We suggest completing the OACD initial model with a spiral(matryoshka)-like curriculum design based on pedagogical principles derived from the cognitive architecture theory and cognitive L2 pedagogy. Combining the spiral sequence of progression with distributed reproduction of grammatical patterns, the spiral-like design makes the OACD applicable to teaching languages with strong inflectional structures (such as Russian) at lower proficiency levels.
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... This data may explain the correlation between autistic-like syndrome and epilepsy. However, to study the effects of VPA on cognitive function [50,51] at different stages of pregnancy, on different models and in different tests and to create more links between MRI researches and behaviour is still important. ...
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Chapter
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