OXFORD COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE AND EDUCATION FORUM
Notes from the tenth meeting 6 October, 2004, ULP
John Geake (Education Oxford Brookes), Christopher Ball (Oxford), Jane Mellanby (Exp.
Psych. Oxford), Lynn Erler (Education, Oxford), Paul Howard-Jones (Bristol), Ann Dowker
(Exp. Psych. Oxford)
Kate Nation (Exp. Psych. Oxford), David Whitebread (Education Cambridge), Jan Atkinson
(Psychology UCL), Iona Seymour (Cyngor Sir Powys County Council), Marilyn Panayi (City
University), Rosie Sage (Education Leicester), Usha Goswami (Education Cambridge), David
Melcher (Oxford Brookes), John Stein (Physiology Oxford), Oliver Braddick (Exp. Psych
Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience – Education Forum website
At the previous meeting it was decided to establish a website for the Oxford Cognitive
Neuroscience – Education Forum (OCNEF). JG reported that as the Oxford Centre for
Cognitive Neuroscience was unable to support such a website, this had been done under the
auspices of the Westminster Institute at Oxford Brookes University.
The URL is http://www.brookes.ac.uk/schools/education/rescon/ocnef/ocnef.html.
The OCNEF website has links to other pages with information about:
Forthcoming conferences of the Forum
Publications on educational neuroscience
Other centres of neuroscience and education
Presentation files from previous conferences
Archived notes of past meetings of the forum
Oxford Day Conference: Cognitive neuroscience and educational psychology
This conference was held at the Westminster Institute, Harcourt Hill campus of Oxford
Brookes University on Friday 16 July 2004. With Sir Christopher Ball as Respondent and
Discussion Chair of the Plenary: Implications for Educational Psychology, the programme
had eight presentations:
John Geake (OBU) Neurobiology and Intelligence
Ann Dowker (Oxford) Individual Differences in Mathematical Thinking
Marco Nardini (UCL) The Development of Memory
Morten Kringelbach (Oxford) Food for Thought
Shirley Anker (UCL) Attentional Disorders in Primary School Children
John Stein (Oxford) Visual Dyslexia
Marina Rose (Aston) Auditory Dysfunction in Children
Tony Bailey (Oxford) Autism and Adolescence
Non-copyright versions of some of these papers are available from the Forum website. The
main target audience was educational psychologists in shire offices and schools. Attendance
by members of the Form was supported by the McDonnell-Pew Oxford Centre for Cognitive
Neuroscience. Including presenters, and Westminster Institute colleagues who dropped in for
only some sessions, some 50 people attended the conference. Feedback from all concerned
was very positive, CB remarking that the very high quality of all presentations deserved a
larger audience. Encouragingly, every presentation was singled out as the highlight of the
day by at least one participant on their written feedback sheets. Financially, the event
finished in the black.
Nevertheless, the lower than hoped-for attendance was disappointing. Mitigating factors
could include the lack of a centralised email list for EPs, and that not all EPs read
advertisements in The Psychologist or the TES. Another possible factor is that funds for
attending PD courses are limited. AD pointed out an upside to this: that from her post-
conference correspondence, the influence of the conference is more widespread than those
who physically attended.
It was suggested that for future conferences, especially the Cambridge 2005 conference and
the TLRP symposium series, to reach such target audiences, the engagement of marketing
personnel who are specialised and experienced in this area might be necessary, rather than
relying on the well-intentioned by necessarily experientially limited endeavours of university-
based marketing departments, or ourselves.
For post-conference follow-up, it was suggested that the list of attendees include other
information such as job titles, areas of interest, and email addresses.
Cambridge education–neuroscience conference 2005
JG distributed promotional brochures for what is now entitled the Launch Conference of the
Centre for Neuroscience in Education, University of Cambridge: Education and Brain
Research: Neuroscience, Teaching and Learning.
This residential conference from Monday 25 to Wednesday 27 July 2005 is targeting teachers
and educators, and will be held in the new Faculty of Education building at the Homerton site.
Full residential fee is £290 (lunches extra). The finalised programme is:
Introduction to the Brain Usha Goswami (Cambridge)
Early Brain Development Mark Johnson (CBCD London)
Enriched Environments in Pre-school John Bruer (McDonnell Foundation)
Stages of Cognitive Development Kurt Fischer (Harvard)
Cognition and I.Q. John Duncan (Cambridge)
Social Cognition and Autism Uta Frith (UCL)
Reading and Dyslexia Guinevere Eden (Georgetown)
Mathematics and Dyscalculia Denes Szucs (Cambridge)
Adolescence Sarah Jayne Blakemore (UCL)
Language and Deafness Mairead MacSweeney (Oregon)
ADHD Eric Taylor (IP London)
Perspectives from Educationists Guy Claxton (Bristol)
John Geake (Oxford Brookes)
Mind, Brain and Education: Usable Knowledge Conference
UG and JG were invited by Kurt Fisher to attend the Mind, Brain and Education: Usable
Knowledge Conference at the Graduate School of Education, University of Harvard, 7-9
October 2004. UG attended, JG declined. One of the many positive feature of this
conference was the requirement of all keynote speakers to write a position target paper for
downloading by participants from the conference website ahead of time.
It was suggested that the posting of pre-symposium papers by keynote speakers would be a
worthwhile procedure for the TLRP symposium series, including the Cambridge 2005
Meanwhile, JG is to distribute a selection of the Harvard Conference papers by Bruer,
Goswami, Plomin and Petitto to attendees of this Forum meeting.
ESRC TLRP collaborative bid for an education-neuroscience seminar series 2005-06
Paul Howard-Jones, Centre for Research and Understanding of Cognition, Intelligence,
Behaviour, Learning and Education (CRUCIBLE), University of Bristol, presented an outline
of this collaborative funding bid to the TLRP under their Neuroscience and Education area of
focus. Conditional approval has been granted, but details cannot be released until final
approval has been received from the ESRC.
In summary, the bid is by a collaboration of researchers across a range of relevant disciplines
interested in educational neuroscience from Bristol, Oxford Brookes, Cambridge, UCL,
Nottingham, and Strathclyde Universities. Six 2-day seminars are planned for 2005-06. Each
seminar will feature keynotes from a neuroscientist and an educationist, with plenty of
engagement from participants. Participants will include targeted education policy makers,
TLRP project holders, teachers, and academics, including members of the Oxford Forum.
Enrolees in the proposed University of Oxford MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience will be
invited. The aim is to make the dialogue a two-way street, and thus develop an educational
agenda within experimental cognitive neuroscience, as much as identify possible implications
and applications of neuroscience for education.
The proposed programme is:
1. Educational practise informed by neuroscience: the present evidence (April 2005
2. Education and Brain Research Conference 2005 (July 2005, Cambridge)
3. Neuroscience in education: Pitfalls, possibilities and perceptions (informed by
plenary discussions of the Cambridge forum) (September, 2005, Oxford)
4. Recent scientific insight: new educational implications (Jan 2006, Bristol)
5. Conjoining theoretical perspectives (April 2006, Nottingham)
6. Horizons: Issues & interdisciplinary collaboration opportunities (June 2006,
To this end, it is hoped that the seminars, especially the sixth, might provide a base for
interdisciplinary funding applications to the UK funding councils, given that such previous
applications have thus far been unsuccessful, possibly because their experimental paradigms
have fallen outside of the perceived remit of either the ESRC, the MRC or the BBSRC. Thus,
the fifth seminar will focus on a theoretical conjoining of science with educational (pre-
scientific?) heuristics, particularly through input solicited from school teachers. This
endeavour will take up the Bruer challenge of whether evidence from cognitive neuroscience
experiments can help resolve conflicts between competing cognitive models of learning, e.g.,
various models of learning styles. All the seminars, but especially the third, will address the
problem of over-interpretation of neuroscience in the public arena.
Once the bid has final approval from the ESRC and the TLRP, a link to the project website
with full details will be available from the Forum webpage.
Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience Autumn School 2004
JG reported on the final day’s programme, Neural Imaging of Reading, convened by Peter
Hansen and Morten Kringelbach (University Laboratory of Physiology), of the recent Oxford
Cognitive Neuroscience Autumn School, a major project of the McDonnell-Pew Oxford
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience. Before the scientific papers were presented, JA
distributed a promotional survey about the proposed MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience, and JG
made an announcement about the Forum and distributed brochures about the Cambridge 2005
conference. The day’s programme included:
Jonathan Grainger, CNRS, France.
"A functional architecture for word recognition"
Joseph Devlin, FMRIB, University of Oxford
"The role of the left posterior fusiform gyrus in reading"
Nicola Brunswick, Psychology Academic Group, Middlesex University
"The functional neuroanatomy of developmental dyslexia: evidence from
electrophysiology and neuroimaging"
Riitta Salmelin, Helsinki University of Technology.
"Neurophysiology of fluent and impaired reading"
Piers Cornelissen, Psychology Department, Newcastle University
"Visual word recognition, the first half second: Evidence from MEG"
Joel Talcott, Aston University.
"Reading in the brain: a behavioural genetic approach"
AD will be giving a talk at Experimental Psychology Oxford, 9th
November, on the
convergence of evidence from cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience.
TBA January 2005, when David Bannerman, Experimental Psychology, Oxford, has accepted
an invitation to talk about his research into memory, and possible implications for education
and educational assessment.
19 October 2004