Neuroscience and Educational Learning Sciences

Mission and Goals:

The Neuroscience and Educational Learning Sciences Affinity Group aims to develop a better understanding of the factors that play a part in the formation of conceptual structures that make optimal use of the neural resources available and permit effective transfer of knowledge to new domains in a pedagogical setting. Traditionally, learning science has involved large amounts of listening to lectures and reading texts. That is, science classrooms often place students in a passive role and have placed a premium on the auditory modality. Pedagogical and technological advances over the last three decades have made it possible to engage learners in more active roles of inquiry, modeling, and knowledge construction. These new inquiry oriented techniques are often coupled with computer simulations, animations, visualizations and other on-line learning tools that engage the visual modality, augmenting listening and reading with seeing and interacting.

Our affinity group invites eminent researchers in neuroscience, cognitive science, and learning sciences who have made significant contributions to embodied learning, participatory simulations, and multimodal information processing at different levels. It provides a rich intellectual environment for the cross-disciplinary training of grad students from Education and Neuroscience. Building on recent work on embodied and multimodal information processing, we aim to develop effective interventions for optimizing concept formation and conceptual integration.


Science education has made significant advances over the last three decades. However, learning outcomes have been modest – especially for minority populations – and international comparisons show the US losing ground. Additionally, reports show that there is a decline in interest in pursuing careers and advanced degrees in science. While there are many systemic and institutional challenges that contribute to our slow progress, one must consider that the most likely reason for our persistent difficulties in teaching science and fostering an interest in science careers is the nature of the learning experiences we provide our students and the limits of our current instructional practices. Neuroscience can play a central role in providing an explicit and empirically grounded rationale for a change of direction, by advancing our understanding of the neural underpinnings of effective pedagogical learning.

Affinity Group Participants:

Dor Abrahamson

Erik Bucy (Texas Tech)

Noel Enyedy (Education)

Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD (Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences)

Ricardo Nemirovsky (San Diego State University)

Francis Steen (Cultural Studies)

Mark Turner (Case Western University)


How to Join:

Marco Iacoboni, MD, PhD
Department of Psyciatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
105 Brain Mapping Center
Mail Code: 708522
Phone: 310-206-3992