New: 1-day workshop on 14 March

The CEN is running a 1-day workshop on current research in educational neuroscience, aimed primarily at PhD students working in education, psychology, neuroscience, and related areas. Themes will cover literacy, mathematics, science, and intervention studies. For further information, see main menu above.

Bishop blogs on educational neuroscience

Professor Dorothy Bishop at the University of Oxford writes a much-followed blog on psychology and cognitive neuroscience. Recently she wrote about her scepticism with respect to claims made for educational neuroscience. See her blog here. Read the comments underneath her blog for responses from researchers working within educational neuroscience, including among others Daniel Ansari, Chloe Marshall, and Michael Thomas, as well as psychologists such as Frank Ramus, and authors who have written on education such as Daniel Willingham.

Here is the cartoon Dorothy used to accompany her piece!

cartoon rats


NEW – One day course, “Introduction to Educational Neuroscience”

A new one day course for teachers entitled “An Introduction to Educational Neuroscience” will take place on Saturday 17th May at the Institute of Education. The aims of the course are to:

  • introduce the disciplines that underlie educational neuroscience: developmental psychology, neuroscience, and evidence-based education.
  • introduce some of the current research in educational neuroscience.
  • dispel some prevalent ‘neuromyths’.
  • consider the future of educational neuroscience.

The course will be delivered by Prof Michael Thomas, Prof Denis Mareschal, Dr Iroise Dumontheil, Prof Andy Tolmie and Dr Chloë Marshall of the Centre for Educational Neuroscience. Further details can be found here:

The CEN research group is restarting

Note the new day, Tuesdays at 4-5.30pm.

The autumn term CEN research group meetings will start on Oct 8th, with a paper discussion by Professor Denis Mareschal. The paper is entitled “Family-based training program improves brain function, cognition, and behavior in lower socioeconomic status pre-schoolers” (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1304437110).

This fascinating paper shows how the educational performance of children from disadvantage backgrounds can be enhanced by a focus intervention which also involves parents.

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Educational neuroscience around the world

The Royal Society of Canada (RSC), the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) have collaborated to organize a timely symposium on the topic of “Brain Plasticity, Learning and Education.” The symposium will take place from June 14 to June 16 at Western University in London, Ontario, Canada. See here for further information.

Currently, Canada and Israel have a number of groups investigating issues related to brain plasticity, learning, and education, from animal models, to research on the development of cognitive abilities in the human brain. Such research is becoming increasingly important as nations begin to appreciate the role of education in the knowledge economy.

See here and here for recent CEN publications on brain plasticity and education.

PhD student symposium on Educational Neuroscience

There will be a PhD symposium entitled ‘Educational Neuroscience: A celebration of recent developments, theory and research’ at the forthcoming PsyPAG 2013 conference to be held at Lancaster University, 17-19 July 2013. Click here for further details. The symposium is sponsored by the BPS Psychology of Education Section. Here’s the abstract:

The symposium aims to present current research in educational neuroscience. The primary goal of this emerging field is to combine research in education, or educational psychology, with research from cognitive neuroscience. This is essential for understanding the cognitive mechanisms that underpin educational success, and provides an understanding of the relevant neural networks associated with learning. Furthermore, research has examined how oscillatory brain mechanisms can affect sensory perception, and how perception builds more complex cognitive systems. Educational neuroscience has wide-ranging implications, not only for how we understand the systems that underpin human learning, but by bringing us one step further to being able to predict different profiles of dysfunction. This knowledge is vital for facilitating diagnosis, and developing interventions that promote learning. The symposia will begin by introducing the conceptual framework of educational neuroscience, as described by Fischer, Goswami and Geake (2010), alongside research which has aimed to examine the electrophysiological basis of working memory in dyslexic individuals, and the consequences of an impaired working memory for learning. Therefore, this symposium aims to exhibit relevant research on brain functioning and learning, in typical and atypical populations. This might include, neuroimaging (e.g., fMRI, PET, EEG and MEG), or genetic studies of neurological function. Research that details how social learning processes have a top down influence upon the development of these cognitive mechanisms will also be welcomed. The symposium offers an excellent opportunity to discuss methodologies, theories and research within the field.

New CEN publication on Developmental Disorders and Education

The CEN’s Professor Brian Butterworth, in collaboration with Prof. Yulia Kovas of Goldsmith’s College London, have just published a paper in the journal Science, entitled Understanding Neurocognitive Developmental Disorders Can Improve Education for All.

Professor Butterworth said “We now know that there are many disorders of neurological development that can give rise to learning disabilities, even in children of normal or even high intelligence, and that crucially these disabilities can also co-occur far more often that you’d expect based on their prevalence.

“We are also finally beginning to find effective ways to help learners with one or more specific learning disabilities [such as dyslexia, dyscalculia and autism], and although the majority of learners can usually adapt to the one-size-fits-all approach of whole class teaching, those with specific learning disabilities will need specialised support tailored to their unique combination of disabilities.”

See here for full UCL press release.