About this Research Topic
International institutions such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) have demonstrated that education lags behind other areas that are critical to human welfare worldwide. The average Programme for International Student Assessment of over 70 countries has remained constant in the last 20 years, with only a few countries improving while most maintain stable scores across time. Educational progress, therefore, appears stagnant in much of the world. A conceivable possibility to overcome this situation is to generate scientific evidence that could underly proposals appliable to educational practices. This alternative has become known as Science of Learning in some countries, Science for Education in others. How then can the Science of Learning be leveraged to improve educational practices and outcomes?
Evidence-based educational practices must be available and accessible to policymakers, school principals, and teachers to improve educational performance worldwide. This alternative can be achieved with contributions by different disciplines, from social sciences to biological research. More specifically, the contribution of the neurosciences – from cognitive to molecular neuroscience – has emerged as relevant for the design of better policies and educational alternatives, based on evidence about the workings of the brain.
Within the borders of Neuroscience, development, and plasticity of the brain are by definition the two most important vectors of learning that enable children and adults to gain competencies across their lifespans. Both typical and atypical brain development require experimental and descriptive studies to deepen knowledge about the different outcomes during learning, necessary for modulating pedagogical alternatives, and proposing the best diagnostic and therapeutic choices to achieve the best results in adulthood. In parallel, brain plasticity has emerged as the central property of neural systems to change and adapt to environmental circumstances, from poverty and underdevelopment to educational practices and social-emotional outcomes.
Brain and cognitive development and plasticity are fields broad enough to include neuropsychology and psychiatry, cognitive neuroscience, developmental neurobiology, cellular and molecular neuroplasticity, and many other subfields. In addition, the brain can now be studied with considerable accuracy by use of modern techniques of molecular and cellular neuroscience employing animal models, as well as through morphological and functional neuroimaging of human brains by magnetic resonance, electrophysiological and magnetic recording by EEG and MEG, and hyper scanning of interacting dyads and groups (including very young children) during semi naturalistic protocols.
The field is ripe nowadays to wrap up these revolutionary approaches and produce a seminal issue with original research contributions and thoughtful, provocative reviews covering this field. Along these lines, we propose to select a number of leading neuroscientists to contribute to the issue, to give the reader an insightful view of the present and the future of evidence-based education.
Keywords: Science of Learning, Neuroeducation, Neuroplasticity, Neurodevelopment, Neuropsychology
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