The word “neuroscience” can be found in media more and more often. It doesn’t sound too sophisticated anymore, but what does it mean exactly? Why is it becoming so popular?
Neuroscience is the study of the nervous system and the brain. Due to the advancement of molecular biology and other related sciences, the second part of the 20th century became the starting point of neuroscience as we currently know it.
It is not only a biological science, however; it is interdisciplinary and is closely related to other fields such as medicine, genetics, chemistry, linguistics, cognitive science, psychology, physics, computer science, and also to the field of neuroeducation, or educational neuroscience.
Most likely, you have heard about the beneficial effects that brain studies have on education. This is obvious, because if you were asked what organ is responsible for our learning, you would probably say that it is the brain. So it makes sense that brain study is directly connected to learning and, consequently, to education.
Can a surgeon operate without knowing biology? Can an architect design a skyscraper without knowing physics? No, they can’t. However, on the other hand, they cannot do either just because they have learned biology or physics. They have to possess a row of other equally important skills and knowledge. The same goes for education and neuroscience.
Researchers in this field investigate the peculiarities of the neural mechanisms of attention, numerical cognition, and reading as well as other general aspects related to the quality of learning: sleep, nutrition, exercise.
These findings can help improve educational techniques by being incorporated into school curriculums. The main goal of educational neuroscience is to build a bridge between science and education, avoiding misunderstanding and misinterpretation.
However, even with the emergence of all these new disciplines — or with the help of existing ones such as cognitive psychology — it may be a long time before neuroscience can meaningfully pave the way to education.
This issue is still highly debatable, but we already have an excellent opportunity to apply some neuroscientific strategies in order to improve learning. Such cognitive strategies are effortful but very effective.
If you want to be a successful learner, don’t be afraid of difficulties you face, such as a large amount of information, having little time for completing your task, or having a ‘poor’ memory.
It’s up to you to choose the strategies or study methods that are most efficient for you, like the previously mentioned strategies, or classical ones like drilling or rereading over and over again. Our power is in our brain, so let’s find the way to do our best in learning.