What does neuroscience bring to the world of learning?

What is neuroscience?

Neuroscience is the set of scientific disciplines that study the nervous system, in order to approach the understanding of the mechanisms that regulate the control of nerve reactions and brain-behavior. There are multiple disciplines such as neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neuropharmacology, neurochemistry ... etc. That is why neuroscience must be studied in an integrated and complementary way in order to understand the complexity of the brain.
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Learning and Neuroscience

Learning is, in essence, being able to survive. The man learned how to make a fire to heat and cook the meat and thus become less ill. He learned to cultivate the land to secure food regardless of luck in hunting and built houses that resisted rain and cold. Learning the man forged a future and only then ensured the continuity of the species.

The brain is still a great stranger, but 30 years ago it was even more. Advances in neurosciences have allowed us to understand how the brain works and see the important role that curiosity and emotion have in the acquisition of new knowledge. At present it has been scientifically proven that, whether in the classroom or in life, knowledge is not achieved by memorizing, or by repeating it again and again, but by doing, experiencing and, above all, getting excited. Emotions, learning, and memory are closely related. From the point of view of educational neuroscience, it should be noted that intelligence is a multidimensional concept, which is why the same learning environment should lead children to explore, think and express their ideas through a variety of different codes.

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Neuroscience and education

As regards neuroscience in education, today there is a variety of evidence of how a balanced and motivating learning environment requires children to learn better. That is why children learn "socially", actively building understanding and meanings through active and dynamic interaction with the physical, social and emotional environment with which they come into contact.

Neuroeducation recommends that during the first years of life children are in contact with nature and not forced to remain seated and still for a long time, because at those ages it is when the shapes, colors, movement, depth are built ... with those who will later weave the concepts. In order to mature, that is, to create new networks of neurons, the brain needs new experiences. From 10 to 12 years, however, the brain is specifically receptive to learning skills, so it is time to enhance the understanding of a text and learn to reason mathematically. And, in adolescence, the brain is fully emotional and clashes with the current educational model that at this stage forces them to learn biology, physics, chemistry ... totally rational subjects.

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To give an example, many people have forgotten the name of the Goth Kings or the formula for calculating the rate of fall of a body but, instead, remember how fun the classes of that particular teacher were (you might kill them, language, history ... everyone will have their own) that aroused their interest with practical exercises and stories on each topic. It was he who managed to arouse your attention and interest, and for which you decided to study what you later studied ... Emotion is fundamental in learning, for whom it teaches and for whom it learns. That teacher made the information in class to be captured through our senses and then to pass through the limbic system or emotional brain before being sent to the cerebral cortex, responsible for cognitive processes. Within the limbic system, the amygdala has an essential function: it is one of the most primitive parts of the brain and is activated before events that it considers important for survival, which consolidates a memory more efficiently.

Another factor to consider is a surprise since it activates the amygdala. The brain is an organ that likes to process patterns (understand things that are always repeated in the same way); It is the way he faces the world around him. Now, everything that is not part of those patterns is stored deeper in the brain. Hence, using elements in the class that break with monotony benefits their learning.

Finally, empathy (the emotional approach) is the door that opens knowledge and with it the construction of the human being. It has also been discovered that, contrary to what was believed for a long time, the brain is not static, but there are critical periods in which one learning is more favored than another. For example, to learn to speak the brain is more receptive from the moment one is born to seven years old. But this does not mean that later you cannot acquire the language: the plasticity of the brain will allow it to do so even if it costs more. This discovery of the existence of periods of learning opens new debates about the educational system and the need to rethink a new model in line with this cerebral predisposition to acquire new concrete contents in stages.
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The amount of demotivated young people who do not want to continue their studies or believe that what they are learning is useless is alarming. And the only way to combat it is through teachers who teach children to face new challenges, which transform the brains of their students taking advantage of all the tools offered by neuroeducation to teach better. Some experts say that if classes were more experiential, more knowledge could be imparted in less time. Teachers should take advantage of what is known about the functioning of the brain to teach better. Children should get excited about what they are learning.

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With this objective, ISEP presented in 2015 the Neuroeducation program, a master's degree that provides neuropsychological knowledge on how to make better use of neurobiological development to acquire learning and the different neurological disorders or disorders that affect cognition and emotions in children and adolescents, providing tools to make the most of its possibilities. At the same time, and depending on the maturation of the CNS itself, it is also intended to develop the skills it possesses. It is known that human beings only take advantage of an average of 10% of our intellectual potential.

ISEP offers the possibility of specializing in the area of ​​Neuroscience applied to the educational field and child development by analyzing the relationships between the brain and learning from an evolutionary perspective. Finding the best way to acquire knowledge means ending many learning problems cataloged as such, but that may just be a wrong way to learn. Neuroeducation allows you to find the most appropriate way to personalize the learning process and make the most of each one.

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