Learning, Teaching and Brain Research: Insights from Current Research that May Affirm Teaching and Learning Strategies

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Peter Taylor


This paper identifies recent psychological and brain research that may help the teacher to develop new teaching techniques or better understand teaching techniques shown to be effective in the classroom. Much of the available research requires a significant background in cognitive psychology (which most educators possess) and biology of the human brain (which most educators do not possess). This work translates this research into a form understandable by educators and learners alike, which corresponds to my post-graduation plans to continue learning about psychological and brain research and translating for educators the parts relevant to teaching and learning. The specific aspects of research I cover include the following: how the brain constructs neural networks, the effects of emotion on brain development and memory, and how learning tasks can change the neural networks in response to stimuli. The major lessons for educators are that there is no magic bullet to be found—at least not yet—but that specific forms of instruction demonstrate measurable improvements in cognitive abilities, and that research in cognitive psychology combined with brain imaging technologies allows us to see how learning and instruction alter the brain during the learning process.


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