My Vision for the Future of Neuroscience in Education

Researchers are uncovering how the human brain functions, learns and stores memory. The implications of this work have the potential to create disruptive change. Still in its infancy, neuroscience has the potential to change how educators approach instruction and learning.

I base my vision for the future of neuroscience in education on cooperative interaction between researchers and teachers. Already neuroscientists cannot study learning and memory without the assistance of educators who are working alongside students, and teachers must consider the implications of neuroscience for their teaching.

In the future, you can expect to see a strong focus on learning and memory, a strengthened partnership between science and education, and improved student achievement.

Learning and memory

We already know that learning takes place as a result of synaptic plasticity, or the ability of nerve cells in the brain to increase or decrease connectivity.

To say that the brain grows more brain cells is a misconception. The brain cannot produce more cells to increase learning and memory. Instead, it strengthens the nerve endings on either side of the synapses, thereby creating a stronger connection. By adding layers of connections, the brain’s memory is reinforced. This process is called plasticity.

The implication for the future of neuroscience in education is that teachers will have to find ways to strengthen synaptic plasticity. It’s unlikely, however, that they will be able to help build these connections with the aid of digital technology.

The science-education partnership 

Medicine and science often lead the way for schools by providing extensive brain theory research. In the future, educators will continue to take their cues from science, and doctors and scientists alike will use the techniques developed by educators to maximize learning and memory.

In the future, educators and science will collaborate on gathering and analyzing research. The science-education partnership will improve learning and memory, and it will likely shorten the learning process and increase memory.

Tech and medical science education go together, and the applications of scientific theory and discovery to educational practice are clear. Researchers have proven the cognitive connection between digital gaming and learning. Learning comes about as a result of edtech games and simulations that incorporate adaptive branching and require higher order thinking skills.

Improved student achievement

According to Scott Bolland, improved engagement comes about when we align learning with brain theory.

That improved engagement is the result of better synaptic plastic, which in turn is developed through digital technology that provides authentic simulation as well as stimulation.

The future of neuroscience in education looks promising because I visualize a future where neuroscience leads instructional practice and instructional practice influences neuroscience.

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