Neuroscience and the Classroom: Making Connections

Distributed by Annenberg Learner, PO Box 55742, Indianapolis, IN 46205-0742; 800-532-7637
Produced by Alex Griswold;Molly Wasser;Tobias McElheny; Alex Griswold; Tobias McElheny
Directed by Dr. Mathew H. Schneps
DVD, color
College - General Adult
Education, Neuroscience, Science, Health Sciences

Reviewed by Thomas I. Nathaniel, PhD, University of South Carolina, School of Medicine, Greenville, SC

Date Entered: 1/31/2012

The major units in the video include the deep connection between emotion, thinking, learning, and memory; the huge range of individual cognitive strengths and weaknesses that regulate how we perceive and understand the world and solve problems including the dynamic process of building new skills and knowledge. The film is a viable tool for educational or instructional use for undergraduate neuroscience and psychology students. It is comparable to Discovering the Human Brain: New Pathways to Neuroscience (2007).

“The Different Brain” encapsulates the dramatic success stories of two boys missing half of their brains and how they provide insight into how we all learn, suggesting new ways to think about teaching. The “Unity of Emotions, Thinking and Learning” examines several questions relating to emotions. For instance, what is emotion, and why do we have it? The unit summarizes insight into motivation and the role of intuition in problem-solving. “Seeing Others From Self” is a unit that explores mirror neurons, empathy, and the social nature of learning. “Different Learners Different Minds” elaborates on the necessity to reconsider labels like "normal" and "disabled" by looking at the significant association between individual strengths and weaknesses and the framework in which we solve problems. The “Building New Networks” unit explores the process of rebuilding new neural networks. It emphasizes the important link between performance and context. The last unit, “Implications for Schools” explores different types of work by teachers to transform research principles into specific lessons and practices to improve student learning.

The greatest strength of Neuroscience and the Classroom is that it provides insight into some of the current research from cognitive science and neuroscience about how the brain works. The videos provide the opportunity to visit the experience of being a learner. For instance, students building new neural networks by applying ideas and principles that emerge from lab studies. One assumption the program makes is that all viewers will have a certain level of knowledge about neuroscience and cognitive behavior. Perhaps defining the neuroscience vocabulary would simplify it for all viewers.