Educational Neuroscience: Where Are We?


Educational neuroscience is an emerging field that combines the disciplines of education, psychology, and neuroscience to study the brain functions involved in learning. In recent years, we have made significant progress in understanding how our brains process information and store knowledge. However, it is essential to assess where we currently stand in this rapidly evolving research area and identify the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for educators and researchers alike.

Progress in Educational Neuroscience

Thanks to powerful neuroimaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and electroencephalography (EEG), researchers can now observe the brain’s activity during learning more non-invasively than ever before. This technology has allowed us to gain insights into how various factors, such as emotions, memory, attention, and social context, influence brain function during learning.

We now know that individuals have unique neural profiles that impact their capacity for learning. Neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt and change over time) also plays a vital role in academic achievement. For example, research shows that interventions aimed at developing certain cognitive skills can promote neural growth and improve performance.

Additionally, educational neuroscience has helped debunk several myths about learning styles. For many years, educators and students believed that individuals learned best through specific modalities (e.g., visual or auditory). However, findings from educational neuroscience suggest that learners benefit from a multi-sensory approach to teaching, which engages multiple brain regions responsible for different aspects of learning.

Challenges Ahead

Despite significant advancements made in educational neuroscience so far, there is still much work to be done. A crucial challenge lies in translating research findings into classroom practice. While there is growing interest in incorporating neuroscience principles into education, researchers and educators often struggle to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and real-world application.

Moreover, the complexity of human learning presents a formidable challenge for educational neuroscientists. There are numerous factors at play during the learning process, including genetics, environment, and individual development. Consequently, it can be difficult to draw definitive conclusions and generalize findings to the broader population.

Future Opportunities

Addressing the challenges within educational neuroscience will require continued collaboration between educators and researchers. By fostering a collaborative dialogue, we can more effectively integrate neuroscience findings into teaching practices, ultimately benefiting learners.

There is also an opportunity for increased personalization of learning. As our understanding of individual differences in brain function grows, educators can develop tailored approaches that account for unique learning strengths and weaknesses.

Moreover, the application of educational neuroscience extends beyond traditional classroom settings. Its principles can be leveraged in educational psychology, special education, and even corporate training environments to support more effective learning experiences.


Educational neuroscience has made significant strides in recent years, providing valuable insights into how our brains learn. While challenges remain in fully integrating these findings into classroom practice, there is a real potential to transform education as we continue unlocking the mysteries of the human brain. The future of educational neuroscience holds exciting opportunities for enhancing our understanding of human learning and improving teaching methodologies for generations to come.

7 Books About the Brain Every Teacher Should Read

As educators, understanding the workings of the human brain is essential to help students learn effectively. To broaden their knowledge, teachers should delve into books that not only cover the latest in neuroscience research but also provide practical tips on how to apply these discoveries in classroom settings. Here are seven must-read books about the brain for every teacher:

1. “The Whole Brain Child” by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

This book provides educators with 12 key strategies to help their students develop emotional intelligence and foster healthy brain development. It is an indispensable resource for teachers looking to integrate brain-based learning techniques into their classrooms while nurturing well-rounded individuals.

2. “Mind, Brain, and Education: Neuroscience Implications for the Classroom” edited by David A. Sousa

This collection of essays compiles insights from leading neuroscientists, cognitive psychologists, and educators who discuss a wide range of topics related to how the brain learns. With research-based guidance on classroom practices and teaching strategies, this book offers an in-depth understanding of how neuroscientific findings can be implemented in education.

3. “How the Brain Learns” by David A. Sousa

In this best-selling book, Sousa integrates recent research findings with practical strategies for teaching various subjects more effectively. He breaks down complex concepts into simple language while providing easy-to-implement tips that can revolutionize your teaching approach.

4. “Brain Rules” by John Medina

This fascinating book offers 12 principles developed from extensive research in neuroscience and psychology that guide optimal learning conditions. Medina presents these principles in a humorous, engaging manner that will help you understand how improving the mental and physical environment for students positively impacts their ability to absorb information.

5. “Teaching with the Brain in Mind” by Eric Jensen

Through this engaging read, Jensen outlines several ways that teachers can develop brain-compatible classrooms while fostering effective learning. Drawing from scientific studies, he presents evidence-based methods that can help students retain more information, improve focus, and develop problem-solving skills.

6. “Making Thinking Visible” by Ron Ritchhart, Mark Church, and Karin Morrison

This book delves into the fascinating topic of making students’ thinking processes explicit to promote their overall understanding of complex concepts. By providing various thinking routines and classroom examples, the authors demonstrate ways to stimulate critical thinking skills in students while offering tools for assessing their understanding.

7. “Why Don’t Students Like School?” by Daniel T. Willingham

Willingham examines the reasons behind students’ lack of engagement in school settings and offers practical solutions based on cognitive psychology research. This book is an invaluable resource for teachers who wish to create stimulating classroom environments that cultivate curiosity and a hunger for knowledge.

In conclusion, enriching your understanding of the human brain’s intricacies can drastically improve your teaching strategies and ultimately help your students succeed academically and emotionally. These seven books provide essential knowledge about neuroscience and how it relates to education, making them must-reads for every teacher.

Neuroscience: Everything You Need to Know

Neuroscience refers to the study of the development of the human neurological system, its structure, and how it works. Thus, this branch of science isn’t just concerned with the nervous system’s normal functioning, but also what happens to this system when people have psychiatric, neurological, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Traditionally, neuroscience has been classified as a subdivision of biology. But today, it has become an interdisciplinary science that liaises strongly with other disciplines, such as linguistics, mathematics, chemistry, computer science, engineering, medicine, psychology, and philosophy.

Several researchers say that neurobiology and neuroscience mean the same to them. However, there’s a difference. While neurobiology focuses on the biology of the nervous system, neuroscience is concerned with anything related to the nervous system. Unlike the initial days of the domain, scientists working in the field of neuroscience today have a much broader scope of fields to handle. They study the functional, cellular, computational, evolutionary, medical, and molecular aspects of the nervous system.

Neuroscience is subdivided into several branches, the notable ones among which are cognitive, linguistic, developmental, and computational aspects.

Cognitive neuroscience refers to the study of higher cognitive functions that are present in humans, and the neural bases that trigger those functions. This branch of neuroscience draws from cognitive science, linguistics, psychiatry, and psychology. Cognitive neuroscientists can choose between two broad directions – computational/modeling or behavioral/experimental, the goal being to comprehend the nature of cognition from a neural viewpoint.

Linguistic neuroscience, also called neurolinguistics, deals with investigations by specialists to understand how the human brain enables people to gain, store, comprehend, and express language. Using it, speech therapists can devise strategies to help children suffering from speech difficulties or people trying to regain their speech after being affected by a stroke, for instance.

Developmental neuroscience examines how the nervous system and the brain develop and change over time, right from the point of conception till adulthood. Information obtained from such studies helps scientists understand more about the development and evolution of neurological systems. This branch of neuroscience also enables them to explain and understand an array of developmental disorders. Additionally, it provides them with clues about when and how neurological tissues regenerate.

Computational neuroscience tries to understand how human brains compute. Computational neuroscientists use computers to replicate and model brain functions, and apply techniques from physics, mathematics, and other computational fields to learn more about brain functions.

All these aspects place emphasis on diverse learning pathways. Neuroscience helps us understand the development of the human mind, what inspires higher education, and the best way to keep informed via the art of learning.

I Bet You Didn’t Know This About Your Brain

Developments in neuroscience have significantly changed how we think about the brain. What we have learned in the 21st century about this organ had had incredible implications for education and the inclusion of technology in our instruction.

Educators have had to unlearn some of what they learned about brain theory in light of new developments. As a result, some of our education practices have had to change with them.

Technology alters the brain

Our love for technology has changed the way our brains work. Attention spans have shortened, and heavy tech users seem to be more forgetful than those who only occasionally turn to technology. In addition, we’re witnessing the atrophy of our socialization skills thanks to excessive technology use. Focusing exclusively on technology dehumanizes us.

This revelation requires more novel instructional approaches to learning. Educators must incorporate non-tech activities in less to help the brain rest and recover from excessive technology stimulation. Turn to discussion groups, nature walks, and collaborative activities that require socialization with others. Teachers who include other brain-based strategies are maximizing learning opportunities for their students.

Brain damage doesn’t have to be permanent

Researchers once thought that brain injuries were a permanent condition. In some cases, such as a stroke, they may be. The brain can heal from more minor injuries, however, like concussions. That’s because the brain has plasticity. The neurons firing inside the brain can be reshaped as necessary. These neurons are continually growing, pruning, and adapting themselves. Over time, they either heal or create new neural pathways for thinking, learning, and living. The brain compensates for the damage by working around it.

The implication for learning is enormous. Brain damage does not have to prevent anyone from being a student. Learning is a life-life endeavor, regardless of mishaps along the way. We can change not only how we think, but also the way we think.

Your brain is balanced

We once thought of the brain as two parts. We divided up tasks as left brain-right brain activities. The left brain was analytical and orderly, a quiet organ for lengthy calculations and problem-solving. The right brain was the eternal party room, where creativity experimented with innovation at all hours of the day and night. We even categorized people as left-brain or right-brain thinkers who had a neural preference for everything, including how they organized their closets and went about their work. 

Now we know that the brain works simultaneously in two ways. This flexibility is a balance between order and chaos. The brain relies on mathematical relationships, but it also uses flexible thinking to make inferences, deduce thoughts, and solve problems. This discovery may affect our ability to create authentic artificial intelligence.

The brain is responsive to positive stimuli

And finally, the best thing you can do for your brain (and your mood) is smile. UK researchers discovered that a smile could be just as effective in raising your levels of serotonin as eating 2,000 chocolate bars or getting $25,000.  Smiling improves your mood and your outlook.

That’s something to consider the next time you’re under a lot of stress or working hard on a project.