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.