What educators can learn from brain research

How to choose applicable neuroscience research, connecting research to campus faculty, and one fascinating study on emotions

brain2As technology advances, new discoveries based on brain mapping are helping researchers understand how students learn. But how can educators spot the best neuroscience research, and how are researchers partnering with university staff to implement applicable research? Thanks to expert reports and diverse initiatives, higher education can reap the benefits of cutting-edge brain research.

Thanks to functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)–a type of non-invasive, low-radiation brain scan that measures neural activity in response to certain stimuli, and developed forms of neuroimaging–researchers are learning more about how we learn than many thought possible.

For example, perhaps the most shocking revelation in neuroscience is that the brain’s structure is more flexible than previously thought–a concept called neuroplasticity, meaning that the brain can still learn new concepts after various ages, and that every student can be taught many different ways. In a sense, the brain can be rewired.…Read More

Can you build a better brain?

This would be a whole lot easier—this quest for ways to improve our brain—if scientists understood the mechanisms of intelligence even half as well as they do the mechanisms of, say, muscular strength, says Newsweek. If we had the neuronal version of how lifting weights increases strength (chemical and electrical signals increase the number of filament bundles inside muscle cells), we’d be good to go. For starters, we could dismiss claims for the brain versions of eight-second abs—claims that if we use this brain-training website or practice that form of meditation or eat blueberries or chew gum or have lots of friends, we will be smarter and more creative, able to figure out whether to do a Roth conversion, remember who gave us that fruitcake (the better to retaliate next year), and actually understand the NFL’s wild-card tiebreaker system. But what neuroscientists don’t know about the mechanisms of cognition—about what is physically different between a dumb brain and a smart one and how to make the first more like the second—could fill volumes. Actually, it does…

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