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Neuroscience findings in education

According to neuroscience, and that is already indisputable today, we learn through emotion. That learning changes the neurons of our brain, making it small branches. When we remember, those neurons are activated again.

Therefore, a key factor for learning to occur is motivation. And it is already said by Aristotle, that we must not start the lesson by the beginning but by that part that most engage our students.

Learning is to associate, create neural connections. When we learn, neurons activate and change, store information and that causes physical changes in the brain.

There are four types of memory:

-Unconscious memory: related to learning habits. It costs a lot to acquire. It is the one we use when we swim, ride a bike, drive... Once these neurons are formed, they are tremendously strong and consistent.

-Common memory: It allows to remember data and it is formed in another part of the brain, in the hippocampus. To encourage them, it is good to guide learning with questions, foster research and use methodologies such as project-based learning and inquiring-based learning.

-Working memory: It is related to analytical intelligence, by keeping several things in mind. The more you can retain, the more working memory you have. It is stored in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. It is our conductor, with it we plan our future, we solve problems...

-Past memory: It is when we remember facts with an emotional background, that's why we all remember our first kiss. We forget much less than we think. But there is something we cannot forget: what we have never learned.



Our brain is made up of eighty billion neurons. Therefore, there is an infinite capacity to make combinations. The problem with this is interferences when you want to think of one thing and another one comes to you. That is the reason why mindfulness techniques are booming at schools.

How can we learn more and better?

1. Connecting new knowledge to what you already know. Because of the connections of these neurons are stronger and the knowledge will more be anchored.

2. Following habits for a good neural connection:

a) Avoid diets rich in saturated fats: fat makes the connection between neurons difficult.
b) Favour restful sleep: it enhances learning and memory.
c) Practice sports and physical activities: when we move, BDNF is generated, which is a substance that lubricates the neuronal connection process.

Tips to use this in education: 

-Connecting the new contents with previous knowledge: learning with questions, inquiring...
-Practising the memory systematically.
-Remembering and reconstructing what has been learned: verbalizing or writing what has been learned.
-Educating children in several languages to foster neural connections.
-Promoting reading.
-Using traditional resources such as dictation and memorization of spelling rules.

To learn more about that topic, it is recommended reading Aprender, recordar y olvidar. Claves cerebrales de la memoria y la educación by Ignacio Morgado Bernal.

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