I prepared the following video, “What Difference Does It Make?” for an introductory neuroscience class, Biological Bases of Behavior. The textbook is the 1,300-page Principles of Neural Science by Kandel, Schwartz, and Jessell. My intention was to highlight seven points, or findings, from neuroscience that have implications for educational theory/practice. These findings include:
- One difference between humans and other species is the capability for abstract thought. As described by Daniel Povinelli, “we invent the unobservable (god, ghosts, gravity) in order to explain the observable.” Other species don’t do that.
- “Learning” literally changes the brain, and brains are continuously “learning,” or changing.
- We don’t experience “reality” directly. Our senses and nervous system mediate our experiences based on our individual models of the world that our brains have constructed.
- The brain operates a continuously-running simulation of motor and sensory behaviors.
- The nervous system expects feedback, and responds to feedback – even when that feedback isn’t ‘real’.
- To focus attention on any one object, the brain must suppress attention on all other objects.
- Language organization in the brain, especially grammatical structures, take years to develop and may be related to tool use.