Summary The learning brain: Lessons for education: a précis - Blakemore & Frith - 2005 - Article

This study focusses on the role of neuroscience on education. According to the researchers, the brain has evolved to educate and to be educated. Understanding the rain and underlying mechanisms will lead to design educational programmes that optimize learning for all people. The researchers want to share their knowledge with teachers. They think that because it is sometimes hard to transform scientific evidence in a way that teachers think that is valuable and therefore they try to share the knowledge in an understandable manner so that teachers can make use of it. Plasticity in the brainThe adult brain seems to be flexible: it can grow new cells and make new connections in regions such as the hippocampus. There is no age limit for learning. This is called plasticity: the capacity to adapt to changing circumstances. Research suggests that learning early has positive effects, but there seems to be no biological necessity to rush and start teaching earlier and earlier.Synaptogenesis means that the brain begins to form new synapses early in postnatal development. This lasts for time, depending on the species of animal. This process is followed by synaptic pruning, in which frequently used connections are strengthened and the others are eliminated. Which connections grow and which die is determined by the genes and by the environment of the baby. But this does not mean that babies should be exposed to many learning experiences in their early life. The assumption was that this whole process is the same for humans as for monkeys: 3 years. But, since monkeys are sexually mature at their 3rd year, for humans this may be 12 or 13 years.Critical vs. sensitive periods in the brainAn animal needs certain kinds of stimulation for adequate development in a specific time called the critical period. But it seems that even when the animal does not get this, some recovery of function is possible depending on the severity of deprivation and the circumstances...

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