- President Obama announced his administration’s plan to fund the Brain Activity Map project, known as Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neuro-technologies (BRAIN), with $100 million over the next 10 years (Young, 2013).
- Cozolino’s The Social Neuroscience of Education: Optimizing Attachment & Learning in the Classroom comes at a time when the conversation about developing technologies to understand how the human brain informs emotional responses, learning processes, PTSD, and Alzheimer’s is being discussed on the national platform (Markoff, 2013).
The above facts indicate the importance of the brain and learning in human history. Let us look at this in more details.
Concept One: Human brain as social organ:
The human brain wasn’t designed for industrial education.
It was shaped over millions of years of sequential adaptation in response to ever-changing environmental demands. Over time, brains grew in size and complexity; old structures were conserved and new structures emerged. As we evolved into social beings, our brains became incredibly sensitive to our social worlds.
This mixture of conservation, adaptation, and innovation has resulted in an amazingly complex brain, capable of everything from monitoring respiration to creating culture. This added complexity came with a cost. Not only do all of these systems have to develop and interconnect, but they also have to stay balanced and properly integrated for optimal performance.
How does this evolutionary history pose a challenge?
For the society?
For the schools?
For the educators?
Our brains require stimulation and connection to survive and thrive. A brain without connection to other brains and without sufficient challenge will shrink and eventually die—moreover, the modern human brain’s primary environment is our matrix of social relationships. As a result, close supportive relationships stimulate positive emotions, neuro-plasticity, and learning.
How will you ensure that these facts are integrated to help you in your learning?
Concept four: We have two brains.
The cerebral hemispheres have differentiated from one another and developed specialized functions and skills. In general, the left hemisphere has taken the lead on language processing, linear thinking, and pro-social functioning while the right hemisphere specializes in visual-spatial processing, strong emotions, and private experience. Most tasks, though, involve contributions from both hemispheres.
How can this be applied to the learning context?