• Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning

    Implications for Education

    Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning

    Implications for Education

    Keynote Speakers: Goldie Hawn (The Hawn Foundation) and Carl E. Wieman (The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)Presented by the New York Academy of Sciences and The Aspen Brain Forum Foundation
    Reported by Kathleen McGowan | Posted December 13, 2011


    One of the most important ideas in contemporary neuroscience is plasticity—the brain's ability to physically remodel itself in response to experience. Another name for plasticity is simply learning. Learning is essentially a process of neurological change; as we absorb new skills and information, neurons form new connections and prune back others, and the brain as a whole recalibrates its networks and activity patterns. From this perspective, the science of how the brain perceives information, responds to data, and develops skills has major potential to transform the practice of education.

    This new field at the interface of neuroscience and education was the focus of the second annual Aspen Brain Forum meeting in Aspen, Colorado. The symposium, "Cognitive Neuroscience of Learning: Implications for Education," held September 22 – 24, 2011, at the Aspen Meadows Resort, convened educators, neuroscientists, policymakers, and entrepreneurs to present findings, articulate a research agenda for the cognitive neuroscience of learning, and foster new connections between brain scientists and educators.

    The symposium connected researchers in three main fields: Those studying the acquisition of reading and language, those researching math skills, and those who focus on general cognitive abilities such as the working memory and attention required for the learning process. Significant underlying factors emerged, such as the need to better understand when and how expertise transfers from one skill domain to another. What might be described as cultural issues also surfaced, and attendees discussed, among other issues, the challenges of translating research findings into classroom practice, and the difficulties of drawing the attention of educational policymakers to this nascent field.

    During the conference, the Aspen Brain Forum Prize in NeuroEducation was awarded to senior scientist Usha Claire Goswami of the University of Cambridge for her work linking reading disabilities to deficits in the ability to sample speech sounds. A young investigator award was given to Kimberley Lakes of the University of California at Irvine for research investigating martial arts training for elementary school children as way to promote self-regulation, emotional regulation, and social behavior.

    Use the tabs above to find a meeting report and multimedia from this event.

    Presentations available from:
    Daniel Ansari, PhD (The University of Western Ontario, London, Canada)
    Daphne Bavelier, PhD (University of Rochester and University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland)
    Clancy Blair, PhD (New York University)
    Elizabeth M. Brannon, PhD (Duke University)
    Stephanie M. Carlson, PhD (University of Minnesota)
    Adele Diamond, PhD (University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada)
    Dale Farran, PhD (Vanderbilt University)
    Lisa Feigenson, PhD (Johns Hopkins University)
    Usha Claire Goswami, PhD (University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK)
    Goldie Hawn (The Hawn Foundation)
    Edward M. Hubbard, PhD (Vanderbilt University)
    Torkel Klingberg, MD, PhD (Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden)
    Bruce McCandliss, PhD (Vanderbilt University)
    Eric Pakulak, PhD (University of Oregon)
    Bruce Pennington, PhD (University of Denver)
    Daniel R. Schwartz, PhD (Stanford University)
    Mark S. Seidenberg, PhD (University of Wisconsin)
    Carl E. Wieman, PhD (The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy)

    Presented by

    • Aspen Brain Forum
    • The New York Academy of Sciences

    Silver Sponsor

    Aetna Foundation

    Bronze Sponsor

    Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes

    Grant Support

    National Science Foundation

    For a full list of sponsors, please view the Sponsorship tab.