News, events, and commentary on bridging neuroscience and education

Myth-conceptions: How Myths about the Brain are Hampering Teaching

October 2014

A new survey of teachers suggests that myths about the brain pervade the education system. “These ideas are often sold to teachers as based on neuroscience -- but modern neuroscience cannot be used support them," says study author Paul Howard-Jones. "These ideas have no educational value and are often associated with poor practice in the classroom.”

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New Evidence That Sleep-Deprived Teenagers Need to Start School Later

by Liz Dwyer | August 2014

A paper from the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends letting teens start class after 8:30 a.m.

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Neuroscience as a STEM Subject

Society for Neuroscience Video | August 2014

Neuroscience isn’t just for biology class! Learn how you can use the science of the brain to enliven your chemistry or physics lessons. In this video, learn about the homunculus, the structure of the sensory cortex, from Jim Olson, a professor at Wright State University. The hands-on activity presented here will show you how to do the two-point discrimination test and create a representation of your own homunculus. Also see the Part 2 video, on how to watch activity from your own neurons in real time.

The Lowdown on Longhand: How Writing by Hand Benefits the Brain

by Ainissa Ramirez

Edutopia | August 2014

Today, cursive writing is becoming a lost art as note taking with laptops becomes more and more prominent in classrooms. But what we are losing is much bigger than a few scratches on a page -- we are losing a robust way of learning

Music, Art, and Cognitive Benefit: Separating Fact from Fallacy

by Brenda Patoine

The Dana Foundation | June 2014

Dana grantee Elizabeth Spelke discusses the future direction of arts and cognition research, and puts into perspective the media attention given to her recently published study on the effects of music classes on math abilities in children.

The Neuroprotective Effects of Education

by Moheb Costandi

The Dana Foundation | May 2014

Research published in the past few years suggests that longer years of formal study can strengthen the brain, making it more resistant to the ravages of old age—and perhaps mitigating the damage that occurs after traumatic brain injury.

From the Neuroscience and Education Symposium

AAAS Policy Fellows and Potomac Institute for Policy Studies | May 2014

Webcast recordings and presentation slides from daylong symposium on Educational Neuroscience (also known as Mind Brain and Education or Neuroeducation) and how new research in neuroscience and psychology can make a difference in how we teach and learn.

Rich Man, Poor Man: Socioeconomic Adversity and Brain Development

by Kimberly G. Noble, M.D., Ph.D.

Cerebrum | May 2014

With the widening economic gap between the haves and the have-nots in mind, Dr. Noble examines recent research that ties family income level and other factors to helping children develop the language, memory, and life skills that tilts the odds in their favor later in life.

Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate

by Alan Schwarz

The New York Times | April 11, 2014

Some mental health researchers believe they have identified a new attention disorder “characterized by lethargy, daydreaming and slow mental processing.”

Does Thinking Fast Mean You’re Thinking Smarter?

by Maria Konnikova

Smithsonian Magazine | April 2014

The research into the relationship between quick thinking and methodical reasoning could take some time to decipher.

Five-Minute Film Festival: Learning and the Brain

by Amy Erin Borovoy

Edutopia | February 28, 2014

A compilation of videos about the brain, with additional resources on brain-based learning.

Myths About How the Brain Works Have No Place in the Classroom

by Hilary Leevers

The Guardian | January 7, 2014

There is a shortage of rigorous research into teaching methods, and results are poorly disseminated among teachers.

From the Archives: Music in Education

by Nicky Penttila

Dana Foundation Blog | December 19, 2013

A new study on music and cognition builds on work by the Dana Arts and Cognition Consortium.

Music Offers a Boost to Education in Low-SES Environments

by Kayt Sukel

The Dana Foundation | December 2, 2013

High-schoolers who had only two years of music training got faster and did better at understanding speech in noise than peers who took a ROTC course instead. These skills are important for reading as well as understanding spoken language.

Lesson Plans and Resources for Arts Integration

by Doug Keely

Edutopia |

Educators from Bates Middle School, in Annapolis, Maryland, share arts-integrated lessons and resources that you can use in your school.

The Arts and the Brain

by Nicky Penttila

Dana Foundation Blog | October 28, 2013

When you listen to music or look at a painting, your brain is busy. At AAAS in Washington, D.C., panelists and audience explored “What Does Your Brain See? What Does Your Brain Hear?"

Why Is Sleep So Important?

by Giulio Tononi, M.D., Ph.D. and Chiara Cirelli, M.D., Ph.D.

The Dana Foundation | October 2013

Many recent studies have demonstrated that sleep benefits all aspects of neural plasticity. Currently under investigation are the underlying cellular mechanisms, which should explain why these benefits can only be obtained when the brain is off-line. One of our series of Reports on Progress.

Separating neuromyths from science in education

by Tom Bennett

New Scientist | September 2, 2013

Are you a creative, right-brain type? Do you learn best visually? These are all neuromyths that badly need debunking, says a UK teacher and writer.

Debunking the 'Gender Brain' Myth

by Anna Salleh

ABC | August 5, 2013

Pop science is playing up differences between girls' and boys' brains, with potentially damaging consequences in the classroom and beyond, says an Australian cognitive neuroscientist.

New Study Shows Why You Should Get the Kids to Bed on Time

by Sumathi Reddy

The Wall Street Journal | July 30, 2013

Going to bed at a regular time every night could give your child's brain a boost, recent research shows.

Study Finds Spatial Skill Is Early Sign of Creativity

by Douglas Quenqua

The New York Times | July 15, 2013

A study suggests that a child’s gift for spatial reasoning may better predict future innovation than math or verbal skills, particularly in math and science fields.

Exploring the Adolescent Brain

The Dana Foundation Blog | June 13, 2013

Adolescence is “a wonderful time,” at least in the eyes of neuroscientists if not those of beleaguered parents.

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Inside the Letterbox: How Literacy Transforms the Human Brain

by Stanislas Dehaene

Cerebrum | June 3, 2012

Few issues are as important to the future of humanity as acquiring literacy. Brain-scanning technology and cognitive tests on a variety of subjects by one of the world’s foremost cognitive neuroscientists has led to a better understanding of how a region of the brain responds to visual stimuli. The results could profoundly affect learning and help individuals with reading disabilities.

Demands Grow Over Chill-Out Rooms

Autism Eye | June 1, 2013

Pressure is mounting on the UK government to introduce regulations to safeguard vulnerable children by controlling the widespread use of chill-out rooms in schools.

Unstoppable Learning

NPR/Ted Radio Hour | April 25, 2013

Listen to speakers explore the ways babies and children learn, from the womb to the playground to the Web.

Dyslexia Workarounds: Creativity Without a Lot of Reading

by Melinda Beck

The Wall Street Journal | April 1, 2013

Many experts believe dyslexia does not influence intelligence and that many dyslexic individuals have thrived by utilizing creative talents, the ability to think differently, and by working harder than their peers.

NSF Calls for Multidisciplinary Education Research

by Sarah D. Sparks

Inside School Research (an Education Week blog) | March 11, 2013

The National Science Foundation signals an interest in multidisciplinary research to study areas such as decision-making and communication.

Early Music Lessons Boost Brain Development

Science Daily | February 12, 2013

A recent study suggests children under seven who receive music training develop stronger connections between motor regions.

Teaching Kids to Give Themselves a Timeout

by Shirley S. Wang

Wall Street Journal | January 14, 2013

A treatment known as teacher-child interaction therapy advocates "active ignoring" and other techniques as ways for teachers to reduce disruptive classroom behaviors.

Facing the Research-Practice Divide in Science Education

by Jean Flanagan

Sci-Ed, a PLOS blog | January 14, 2013

To improve science education, the dialogue between science education researchers and science teachers must improve.

Recess 'Crucial' for School Kids, Pediatricians Say

by Eryn Brown

Los Angeles Times | December 31, 2012

The American Academy of Pediatrics released a policy statement outlining the benefits of recess and urging schools not to cut it, despite growing pressure to dedicate more time to academics.

Trends in Neuroscience and Education, Volume 1, Issue 1

Elsevier | December 1, 2012

Check out the first issue of the new journal Trends in Neuroscience and Education.

Preschoolers at Play Show Science Skills

by Stephanie M. Lee

San Francisco Chronicle | November 26, 2012

Preschoolers are not the irrational thinkers we suspected all these years.

Neuromyths in Education

by Sanne Dekker, Nikki C. Lee, Paul Howard-Jones, and Jelle Jolles

Frontiers in Psychology | October 18, 2012

This study reports on the presence of “misconceptions about the brain…loosely based on scientific fact,” among teachers in parts of the UK and The Netherlands.

How the Brain Learns from Mistakes

by Kayt Sukel

The Dana Foundation | October 16, 2012

Researchers are finally able to prove that what you don't notice can't teach you.

A Delicate Balance: Risks, Rewards, and the Adolescent Brain

by Carl Sherman

The Dana Foundation | October 2, 2012

Beyond the biological and environmental interactions that characterize adolescent brain development in general, researchers are teasing apart the details behind differences in risk-taking among teens.

Play, Stress, and the Learning Brain

by Sam Wang, Ph.D. and Sandra Aamodt, Ph.D.

Cerebrum | September 24, 2012

An extraordinary number of species—from squid to lizards to humans—engage in play. But why? In this article, adapted from Dr. Sam Wang and Dr. Sandra Aamodt’s book Welcome to Your Child’s Brain: How the Mind Grows from Conception to College, the authors explore how play enhances brain development in children. As Wang and Aamodt describe, play activates the brain’s reward circuitry but not negative stress responses, which can facilitate attention and action. Through play, children practice social interaction and build skills and interests to draw upon in the years to come.

Play, Attention and Learning

New York Academy of Sciences | June 14-15, 2012

The New York Academy of Sciences hosted multi-disciplinary experts for a workshop that promoted greater understanding, and continued interest in, the connections between play, the development of attentional and cognitive abilities, and subsequent learning.

How Children Succeed

by Paul Tough

Slate | September 5, 2012

Which matters more, cognitive ability or motivation?

How the Arts Unlock the Door to Learning

by Mariko Nobori

Edutopia | August 29, 2012

Student achievement was down. Teachers were demoralized. Until a bold strategy -- integrating the arts into curricula--helped students embrace their learning and retain their knowledge. Today the faculty, staff, and students of Maryland's Bates Middle School are crafting a whole new vision of school transformation.

Re-opening Windows

by Takao K. Hensch, Ph.D. and Parizad M. Bilimoria, Ph.D.

Cerebrum | August 29, 2012

We acquire certain skills—from visual perception to language—during critical windows, specific times in early life when the brain is actively shaped by environmental input. Scientists are now discovering pathways in animal models through which these windows might be re-opened in adults, thus re-awakening a brain’s youth-like plasticity. Such research has implications for brain injury repair, sensory recovery, and neurodevelopmental disorder treatment.

How Science Can Improve Teaching

by Daniel T. Willingham

Scientific American | August 22, 2012

Teachers need a trusted source to tell fads and fallacies from proved methods.

A Neurologist Makes the Case for Teaching Teachers About the Brain

by Judy Willis, M.D.

Edutopia | July 27, 2012

Now that the neuroscience research implications for teaching are also an invaluable classroom asset, it is time for instruction in the neuroscience of learning to be included as well in professional teacher education.

The State of Games in the Classroom

by Nicole Cojuangco

New York Academy of Sciences | May 25, 2012

An e-briefing from the New York Academy of Science urging educators to begin considering games less as a mindless medium and more as an innovative, interactive tool to increase student achievement.

Neuroscience and the Classroom: Making Connections

The Annenberg Foundation |

A free, online course designed by Kurt Fischer, Ph.D., Harvard Graduate School of Education, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, Ed.D., University of Southern California, and Matthew H. Schneps, Ph.D., the Smithsonian Institution.

Rhythm and Music Help Math Students

by Sophie Bushwick

Scientific American: 60-Second Science | March 27, 2012

Kids who learned fractions through a music-based curriculum outperformed peers in traditional math classes.

The Case for Recess

by Esther Entin, M.D.

The Atlantic | February 27, 2012

Recess time and gym have been eliminated from many school programs to make more time for academics, but physical activity can improve thinking and reasoning skills in children.

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Volume 2, Supplement 1

February 15, 2012

This special supplement, supported by the Dana Foundation, will be available online for free until February 2013.

Learning About Learning

by Nicky Penttila

Dana Foundation Blog | January 23, 2012

Neuroscientists and educators met at the Aspen Brain Forum last fall to hash out what we know and how schools might change to help every child succeed. One answer: play.

Special Educators Borrow From Brain Studies

by Nirvi Shah

Education Week | January 17, 2012

Educators are using techniques drawn from brain-research studies to help students with disabilities.

A Year Adds Up to Big Changes in Brain

ScienceNews | July 2, 2011

The way children process math equations changes in third grade.

Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas

by Benedict Carey

The New York Times | June 6, 2011

Perceptual learning—which takes advantage of the brain’s ability to recognize patterns—could help students learn math and science principles more effectively.

A Better Way to Teach?

by Jeffrey Mervis

ScienceNow | May 12, 2011

"A new study shows that students learn much better through an active, iterative process that involves working through their misconceptions with fellow students and getting immediate feedback from the instructor."

Improving Memory to Improve Academic Performance

by Carl Sherman

The Dana Foundation | April 21, 2011

“The whole function of education is to alter the brain," Nobelist Eric Kandel said at a conference for educators and scientists on learning and the brain in New York City. He and other researchers described what we know about how the brain learns.

Visualizing How We Read

by Carl Sherman

The Dana Foundation | March 25, 2011

Brain imaging helps researchers decipher the intricate networks that form as people learn to read, and what may be happening when the learning goes awry.