Cognitive Science: Contributions to Educational Practice

By Marlin L. Languis; Daniel J. Martin et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter II
Neuroscience Tools for Educators

Paul J. Naour and Michael W. Torello

The phenomenon of learning is the most important function of living organisms, directing and ordering behavior which ensures both individual and species survival (Hebb, 1949). Within that broad context, the understanding of the learning process is a significant pursuit of science. Recent findings that humans have the potential for several distinct, yet adaptive, types of brain organization have led to the investigation of the neurological substrates of cognitive organization and development (Levy, 1977).

Although the brain is the principal organ of learning, brain/ behavior relationships have been generally disregarded by educators. Indeed, the traditional perspective in educational research, theory, and practice has been based upon the behavioral model. There must come a time when these differences in philosophical approach between the behavioral and brain-oriented perspectives are reconciled in order to advance the understanding of human learning (Duffy, 1981). Furthermore, in the reconciliation of these two typically diverging viewpoints of brain/behavior relationships, precautions are warranted regarding oversimplified application of neurological information to issues in educational practice. With this in mind, the following introduction is intended to present a historical perspective of brain function, a discussion of currently available techniques for investigations of brain function and their limitations, and a conclusion with cautions to educators.

A brief historical review is valuable to provide insight regarding how we presently view brain functional organization and will also serve to focus attention on how technologies are applied in an attempt to understand that functional organization. The investigation of cerebral processes has a long and varied history. Initially, studies

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