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Public lecture to discuss impact of brain function on education

By Kelly Foss

Learning occurs through experience-dependent changes of connections within the brain.

It therefore seems a “no-brainer” that the study of brain function and structure can and should inform education.

Canning Lecture

Dr. Daniel Ansari will give the inaugural Dr. Patricia Canning Memorial Lecture in Child Health and Development at Memorial University on Tuesday, March 28.

Dr. Ansari is the Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and is a professor in the Department of Psychology and the Brain and Mind Institute at Western University.

“Much attention has been paid to the marriage between education and neuroscience marked by the emergence of new fields such as educational neuroscience, and mind, brain and education,” said Dr. Ansari.

“The aim of this talk is to provide a critical overview of the potential for neuroscience, particularly cognitive neuroscience, to inform education and educational professionals.”

Challenges and opportunities

Dr. Ansari will discuss challenges as well as opportunities in connecting cognitive neuroscience and education by reviewing different sources of evidence and their relative degree of educational relevance, including the proliferation of so-called “brain-based” products that suffer from a lack of an evidence base and lead to the generation of “neuromyths.”

He will also discuss future pathways towards a productive and bidirectional connection between education and cognitive neuroscience.

Dr. Ansari was one of the first researchers in the world to use non-invasive brain-imaging devices to understand how children’s brains process numbers, and how that brain activation changes with age. By doing so, he discovered how children’s brains process numerical information differently than adults’ brains, thus highlighting the importance of development.

This discovery also raised the question of how these developmental processes go awry in children who have difficulties with math.

Everyone welcome

His lecture, Why Should Educators Care About Cognitive Neuroscience?, will take place Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the Bruneau Centre for Research and Innovation, IIC-2001.

A reception will follow; limited free parking is available in lot 17.

The Dr. Patricia Canning Memorial Lecture in Child Health and Development was established through generous gifts from the family and friends of the late Dr. Patricia Canning, a child psychologist, educator and researcher at Memorial University.

The purpose of the lecture series is to attract a leader in the broadly defined area of child health and development research or discovery, with a goal of providing wide-reaching benefit to both the public and the Memorial University community. Speakers must have an international reputation and have produced extensive research on issues relevant to researchers, policy-makers and practitioners.

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