Brain Based Learning


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Brain Based Learning

  1. 1. Brain Based Learning Dr. Rodney Davis EDU 6629
  2. 2. Topics to be Covered 1. Brain function?1. Brain function? 2. Brain myths and facts2. Brain myths and facts 3. Lessons from neuroscience3. Lessons from neuroscience 4. Applications for education4. Applications for education
  3. 3. Brain Function The Brain Performs an incredible number of functions: • Controls body temperature, blood pressure; heart rate; and breathing. • It accepts sensory input from the world around it. • It handles physical motion • It allows you to think, dream, reason, and experience emotions. The Human Brain Neuroscience or neurobiology is the science that explores the brain and the nervous system. Brain Fact: The human brain is an organ about the size of a small head of cauliflower.
  4. 4. Neuron Structure • Nerve cells in the brain are called neurons – Approximately 100 billion – Transmit electrochemical signals – Have the same characteristics as other cells • Except they can transmit signals up to several feet • Neurons have 3 basic parts – Cell Body-has all the necessary parts of a cell (nucleus, endoplasmic reticulum etc.) – Axon-carries the signal along length of cell – Dendrites-connect to other cells, allows the neuron to talk with other cells
  5. 5. Neuron Types • There are 4 Basic Types: – Come in different sizes • A sensory neuron in your finger tip has an axon that extends the length of your arm • Neurons within the brain may only be a few millimeters long – Come in different shapes according to their function • Motor neurons, which control muscle contractions have cell body at one end, a long axon, and dendrites at the other end. • Sensory neurons, which carry signals, have dendrites at both ends and a cell body in the middle. – Vary in Function • Sensory neurons carry signals from the extremities into the central nervous system • Motor neurons carry signals from the central nervous system to the outer parts of the body. • Receptors sense the environment and encode this information into electrochemical signals to be transmitted by the sensory neurons • Interneurons connect various neurons within the brain and spinal cord
  6. 6. Brain Parts • Brainstem: Consists of the Medulla, Pons, and Midbrain – Controls: Breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, limb movements, and visceral functions (digestion and urination) • Cerebellum: – Integrates information from the vistibular system and indicates body orientation and movement to coordinate limb movement • Hypothalamus and Pituitary Gland – Controls: Visceral functions, body temperature, and behavior responses such as feeding, drinking, sexual response, aggression and pleasure • Cerebrum: AKA Central Cortex – Consists of cortex. Large fiber tracts, deeper structures (basal ganglia, amygdala, hippocampus – Integrates information from sense organs, initiates motor functions, controls emotions, holds memory and thought processes, and thinking
  7. 7. Brain Myths & Facts • Upon Reviewing the Recent Literature on Neuroscience – Research based applications of brain science for education will come eventually but currently brain science has little to offer education practice or policy. – 3 major ideas that have come brain science • Early in life synapses (neural connections) form rapidly • Critical periods occur in development • Enriched environments have a profound impact on brain development during early years – These ideas are not new, researchers have known about them for 20-30 years. We must be careful how they interpreted for education
  8. 8. Brain Myths & Facts Synapses: the connections through which the electrochemical signals are transmitted from one neuron to another. Neuroscience Fact: Newborns have lower synaptic densities compared with adults. By age 4 children have 50% greater synaptic densities than adults. More synapses we have the smarter we are. Neuroscience suggests that there is no simple or direct relationship between synaptic densities.
  9. 9. Brain Myths & Facts Complex learning situations decrease neural pruning and/or increase neural density. There seems to be no evidence to support this myth.
  10. 10. Brain Myths & Facts Critical Periods in Development Critical periods or windows of opportunity refer to the period when basic skills such as vision, speech, hearing.Specifics of home or preschool environments contribute to how children’s sensory or motor skills develop. From what we know, environment matters little if at all when it comes to basic skill acquisition. There is no evidence to support the belief that there is a critical period for the acquisition of culturally or socially transmitted skills, like reading, math, or music. People can acquire these skills at any age.
  11. 11. Lessons from Neuroscience Brain science is a growing field. We have learned more in the last 10 years than in the previous 100. Caution Brain science does not and may never tell us specifically what we should do in the classroom. At this point it does not prove that a particular strategy will increase student achievement. The purpose of neuroscience research is to explore how the brain functions not to inform education about pedagogy.
  12. 12. Lessons from Neuroscience • Finding One: The brain changes physiologically as a result of experience – The environment in which the brain operates determines to a large degree the functioning ability of that brain. – The environment affects how the genes work, and genes determine how the environment is interpreted. – It wasn’t too many years ago that researchers thought the brain was fixed at birth. – The classroom environment is not a neutral place. We are either growing dendrites or we are letting them wither away. – An enriched environment allows students to make sense out of what they are learning. – Brains develop in an integrated fashion over time – The brain is essentially curious – The brain is collaborative, thinking takes place individually but the brain craves opportunities to discuss its thoughts.
  13. 13. Lessons from Neuroscience • Finding Two: IQ is not fixed at birth • Finding Three: Certain skills are more easily acquired during certain sensitive periods. – Speech, if the period is missed a person might acquire the ability to speak but they will probably speak with an accent. • Finding Four: Learning is strongly influenced by Emotion – Emotion signals to the brain, this information is important remember it. – Negative information can overwhelm the brain and cause it to shut down.
  14. 14. Applications for Education • Every child is biologically equipped to learn from experience. – Each child has the capacity for natural learning. • Natural Learning: primarily making sense of experience. • Natural Learning is authentic – Humans have a biological imperative to make decisions. – We make hundreds of decisions every day. – Key, ask questions that are focused on what matters to them. • The goal of teaching is to create an environment where students can ask relevant questions and still meet curriculum goals.