How neuroscience is affecting education?

In this brief guide we are going to answer the question ‘’ How neuroscience is affecting education?’’  we will discover the main applications of this great science in the field of education, its objectives and limitations.

How neuroscience is affecting education?

Neuroscience affects education by providing information about how the brain works during learning to improve the learning process.

Neurosciences were born as an epistemological umbrella that brings together different disciplines (physics, psychology, philosophy, medicine, biology, chemistry, among others) with the intention of knowing the structure, function, development, biochemistry, neuronal functioning and pathology of the nervous system, as well as the way in which its different elements interact, giving rise to the biological bases of behavior.

In this way, the neurobiological correlate of human cognitive functions and behaviors can be established, developing new ways of understanding the mind. The application of this discipline to the educational field constitutes the so-called educational neuroscience or neuroeducation.

Through different techniques for the structural and functional study of the brain, at the end of the 20th century the way in which the human brain is activated and modified by experience began to be accessed.

As its name indicates, with these studies it’s possible to make observations regarding the structure and function of certain areas during cognitive activity, and to observe the modifications aroused in the brain through experience.

These techniques would allow access to novel ways of understanding how education impacts the human brain, generating numerous changes that lead to the understanding of the neurobiological foundations of the teaching and learning process.

The clarification of some of the mechanisms of learning by Neuroscience has been enhanced by the advent of non-invasive imaging technologies. Among these we should mention: CAT scanning, Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and Spectrometers.

The Electroencephalogram (EEG); Magnetoencephalography; superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) Brain Electrical Activity Mapping (BEAM). And positron emission tomography (PET).

These technologies have allowed researchers to directly observe the processes of human learning, at least from a mechanistic point of view.

Some fundamental discoveries of Neuroscience, which are expanding the knowledge of the mechanisms of human learning, are:

1. Learning changes the physical structure of the brain.

2. These structural changes alter the functional organization of the brain; In other words, learning organizes and reorganizes the brain.

3. Different parts of the brain may be ready to learn at different times.

4. The brain is a dynamic organ, shaped in large part by experience. The functional organization of the brain depends on experience and benefits positively from it. The brain is shaped by genes, development, and experience, but it shapes your experiences and the culture where you live.

5. Development is not simply a biologically driven developmental process, it’s also an active process that draws essential information from experience.

In short, Neuroscience is beginning to provide some insights, if not final answers, to questions of great interest to educators.

What are the benefits of neuroscience in education?

It’s necessary that in education the advances that science contributes are reflected, and currently, there are many theories and voices that express the need to put neuroscience and education together.

Not only to be able to help improve the study but also, so that the methods of teaching are adapted to the stages of evolutionary development and individual differences, based on the fact that in order to understand learning, we must understand how the brain works.

Hence the need for an approach to neuroscience from the reality of the classroom derives, and this can only be done through the experience of the teaching staff, because not all the knowledge provided by this science is of educational interest.

Combining cognitive sciences and neurosciences with education leads to more effective educational methods, but the most relevant from the point of view of neuropsychology is the opportunity that this knowledge brings about what should be learned and how to learn it, taking into account the neuropsychology of the developing brain.

As knowledge about the functioning of the human brain becomes more accessible to educators, the learning process will become more effective and meaningful, for educators and students alike.

Children, through neuroeducation, will acquire more knowledge because their brain is being stimulated to obtain all the information that is needed, it begins to create the necessary bases for this learning process, there are generated neural connections that are known as synapses, which are responsible for ensuring that the information stays there, lasting over time.

It’s no secret to anyone that the brain is the only organ in the body that has the ability to teach itself, and the more it learns, the more it develops. Each brain is unique and captures information differently, but it does not mean that it does not, they are simply different processes.

Being part of the neuroeducation of the classrooms allows, in one way or another, to propose a new educational style, where the bases of all teaching are based on the particularities of the nervous system and the brain, thus placing education as central axis in the human process.

What are the limitations of neuroscience in education?

Some critics emphasize that neurosciences don’t contribute any practical knowledge to the educational area beyond the knowledge of cognitive and behavioral psychology. According to these authors, neurosciences have not provided specific educational proposals and cannot help educators at all, but the opposite could be the case.

In addition, they argue that the theories that for the moment were contributed from the field are self-evident, and cites those related to learning difficulties related to stressful environments, bad sleep habits and lack of exercise.

Neuroeducation is not like the Montessori method, there is no decalogue that can be applied. It’s not yet an academic discipline with a regulated body of knowledge. We need time to investigate further because what we know in depth today about the brain is not entirely applicable to day-to-day life in the classroom.

Many scientists say that it’s too early to bring neuroscience to schools, firstly because teachers don’t understand what you are talking about and secondly because there is not enough scientific literature to state at what ages it’s better to learn what content and how. There are flashes of light.

Second, it’s not always useful to give an a priori definition of a field of study, as practice often produces cuts or extensions of the concept in question. Rather than defining a conceptual framework, is establishing criteria that can be verifiable and stimulate research, both in theory and in practice.

The search for experimental and clinical data, in the case of neuroeducation, should be a priority. But pay close attention to the scientific agenda, since not everything “can be done” should “be done” when it comes to education. Some of these criteria point to the field of values, in particular to the ethics of neurobiological methods applicable to teaching and learning.

Third, we have mentioned the necessary interplay of varied disciplines. We are still far from having a genuine transdisciplinary in neuroeducation, like that of “molecular biology”, for example.

But it’s not easy to foresee the course of transdisciplinary information from the state of science and technology of the moment.

In the case of neuroeducation, we could, perhaps, take advantage of the experience of what is happening at breakneck speed in the field of informatics and communications in education, especially since the implementation of low-cost and high-end laptops has spread to millions of students and teachers in many regions of the world.

So, how neuroscience is affecting education?

After learning about neuroeducation and its applications in the classroom and at school, it’s worth asking ourselves: does education really need Neuroscience? We are sure that, after reading this article carefully, you will absolutely say yes.

From the information revealed, it can be concluded, on the one hand, that neurosciences have contributed to the educational field the study of learning difficulties and have generated applicable methods to alleviate them when learning.

The ways of learning vary according to each specific learning difficulty and this generates public policies based on the inclusion of students with learning difficulties.

Another contribution of neurosciences is related to enriched environments, which generate a more conducive development of cognitive abilities. In this sense, it’s necessary to generate an enriched environment so that their learning is meaningful.

Regarding this, neuroscience aims to generate educational environments that use emotions and novelty, since they would be associated with higher levels of attention, learning and memory.

It should be taken into account that the neurosciences are in full growth and expansion, generating predictive models and research with increasing levels of ecological validity. However, one should not fall into a reductionist position and try to understand, through them, all the complexity that human behavior implies through the brain.

There are still many advances that the neurosciences of education must achieve to perfect and expand its application to the field.

From the contributions collected and the limitations reviewed, it’s also clear that many investigations were carried out with animals, and the results in humans have yet to be extrapolated.

Furthermore, only very few were conducted in educational settings. Bearing in mind, then, that neuroeducation is an expanding discipline, one must be cautious and critical of the results found in this field, and promote research with greater ecological validity.

The current educational system has traditionally focused on an active role for the teacher who speaks and a passive role for the student who simply listens.

Neurodidactics engages students, encourages them to do, experiment, touch, play, and get involved in their own learning. Ultimately, it’s about adapting teaching to the functioning of the brain and not the brain that has to adapt to the teaching process.

We need an education based on empirical evidence and not based on intuition or good work. In this sense, neuroeducation contributes to reducing the gap between neuroscientific research and pedagogical practice.

FAQS: How neuroscience is affecting education?

Does neuroscience inform education?

Neuroscience allows us to study how the brain learns and apply it to day-to-day education to improve the way in which the teaching-learning process is approached.

What is neuroscience of learning?

The neuroscience of learning is an interdisciplinary field of study that examines how people learn and how the learning and development field can improve talent.

How does education affect the brain?

According to studies, people who attend school longer perform better cognitive tasks than people who don’t.

What is a main idea of neuroscience education?

A major goal of educational neuroscience is reducing the gap between neuroscientific research and pedagogical practice.

How is neuroscience used in education?

Neuroscience applied to education or educational Neuroscience is also known as Neuroeducation. Educational Neuroscience helps us to know how the brain works and how neurobiological processes intervene in learning, to make it more efficient and optimal.

In this brief guide we answered the question ‘’ How neuroscience is affecting education?’’  we’ve discovered the main applications of this great science in the field of education, its objectives and limitations.

If you have any comments or questions please let us know!

References

Zadina, J. N. (2015). The emerging role of educational neuroscience in education reform. Psicología Educativa, 21(2), 71–77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pse.2015.08.005

‌Martín-Loeches, M. (2015). Neuroscience and education: We already reached the tipping point. Psicología Educativa, 21(2), 67–70. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pse.2015.09.001

‌Howard-Jones, P. A. (2007). Neuroscience and Education: Issues and Opportunities. Retrieved October 31, 2020, from ResearchGate website: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/36713853_Neuroscience_and_Education_Issues_and_Opportunities

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