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Neuroeducation: Top findings to update education and learning

neuroeducationNeu­roe­d­u­ca­tion: 25 Find­ings Over 25 Years (Inno­va­tion Excellence):

To cel­e­brate the progress of this mon­u­men­tal dis­ci­pline, we have com­piled a list of the 25 most sig­nif­i­cant find­ings in neu­ro­science edu­ca­tion over the past 25 years..”

1. Brain plas­tic­ity. Per­haps the most encour­ag­ing find­ing in all of neu­ro­science is that the brain changes con­stantly as a result of learn­ing, and remains ‘plas­tic’ through­out life. Stud­ies have shown that learn­ing a skill changes the brain and that these changes revert when prac­tice of the skill ceases. Hence, ‘use it or lose it’ is an impor­tant prin­ci­ple for life­long learning…

3. Both nature and nur­ture affect the learn­ing brain. Genetic make-up alone does not shape a person’s learn­ing abil­ity; genetic pre­dis­po­si­tion inter­acts with envi­ron­men­tal influ­ences at every level. For exam­ple, genes can be turned on and off by envi­ron­men­tal fac­tors such as diet, expo­sure to tox­ins, and social inter­ac­tions. Neu­ro­science has the poten­tial to help us under­stand the genetic pre­dis­po­si­tions as man­i­fest in the brain of each indi­vid­ual, and how these pre­dis­po­si­tions (nature) can be built on through edu­ca­tion and upbring­ing (nurture).

6. The brain has mech­a­nisms for self-regulation. Under­stand­ing mech­a­nisms under­ly­ing self-control might one day help to improve prospects for boost­ing this impor­tant life skill… Given that the self-reported abil­ity to exert self-control has been found to be an impor­tant pre­dic­tor of aca­d­e­mic suc­cess, under­stand­ing the neural basis of self-control and its shap­ing through appro­pri­ate meth­ods can be extremely valuable.

7. Edu­ca­tion is a pow­er­ful form of cog­ni­tive enhance­ment. Cog­ni­tive enhance­ment usu­ally refers to increased men­tal prowess—for instance, increased problem-solving abil­ity or mem­ory. Such enhance­ment is usu­ally linked with the use of drugs or sophis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy. How­ever, when com­pared with these means, edu­ca­tion seems the most broadly and con­sis­tently suc­cess­ful cog­ni­tive enhancer of all. The steady rise in IQ scores over the last decades is thought to be at least par­tially due to education.

23. Metacog­ni­tion enhances learn­ing. Metacognition—sitting back and say­ing, “What did I learn and how did I learn that? What other con­nec­tions are there? How else can I do this?” –is very impor­tant to con­sol­i­dat­ing learn­ing, expand­ing on it, and mak­ing addi­tional con­nec­tions. This kind of aware­ness is key to devel­op­ing crit­i­cal think­ing skills.”

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