Neuro-hit or neuro-myth?
By: Dr. Victoria Knowland
Edited by: Professor Michael Thomas
Teachers and parents have a great enthusiasm for the brain sciences and the light they can shed on learning in educational environments. However sometimes this enthusiasm can lead to educators too readily accepting teaching practices, ideas, or techniques that do not actually have a scientific basis in neuroscience – or which reflect some basis in neuroscience but have not been rigorously tested within an educational context. This phenomenon has been labelled the spread of ‘neuromyths’ – mistaken ideas about the brain – and it has been the topic of discussion by researchers within neuroscience (e.g., articles by Goswami and Howard-Jones).
Researchers in educational neuroscience have begun to compile sets of resources, meta-analyses and reviews to address which neuroscience-inspired teaching techniques are supported by empirical evidence, and which ‘facts’ about the brain actually reflect current consensus within neuroscience.
The Centre for Educational Neuroscience (CEN) has produced some resources themed around some of the main topics where neuromyths have arisen. Find below brief overviews about the existing state of research – what we know and don’t yet know on these topics.
Are these ‘neuro-hits’ or ‘neuro-myths’?
- Left brain versus right brain thinkers
- Diet makes a difference to learning
- Fish oils improve learning
- Physical exercise enhances learning
- Different children have different learning styles
- Learning two languages gives a cognitive advantage
- Girls and boys have different cognitive abilities
- Most learning happens in the first 3 years of life
- Violent video games make children more violent
- We only use 10% of our brains
- Well-rested children do better in school
- You can train your brain with digital media
This work was supported by a Wellcome Trust Institutional Strategic Support Fund grant awarded to Professor Michael Thomas, Birkbeck, University of London.
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