Bridging the Gap Between Neuroscience & Education
Organized by: Samuel Hunt
EVENT DATE Oct 03, 2014
Would you like to see the needs of a diverse spectrum of developing children met through improved education practice and policy making? Wouldn't you like to know that the exciting implications of modern neuroscience findings are influencing children's brain efficiency in the classroom and preparing their cognitive ability to be able to handle the issues of an unimagined, unknowable future? What will it take to bridge the gap between neuroscience and education? I have been working diligently with amazing mentors over the past 6 years working towards a solution. Samuel's underlying theory is that if you can increase neurogenesis you can increase intelligence thereby not only improving learning performance but building genius and rehabilitating /preventing multiple brain disabilities as well.
Can you imagine that seat time over the course of days, months, and years may be limiting or even negatively impacting our ability to educate and develop behavioral and cognitive improvements in children? Could we be unknowingly and counterproductively inflicting damage on developing brains through restraint stress? Together, through your support, will find the answer together and help to improve future education of children. Stay updated on my Youtube channel: ed.neurosciguy.
At Queensland Brain Institute, I will be conducting research to earn a (Ph.D.) that will further test this theory in order to inform future education policy and practice and to broaden the influence of educational neuroscience. The research proposal is as follows:
Working title: Restraint stress and its impact on biomarkers associated with learning performance and intelligence.
Description: "Too often the brain and body are studied as separately developing entities and results are primarily published into journals with a narrow focus within separate fields: physiological or neurological. Biologically, it is now well accepted that enrichment in mice/rats, including various forms of physical activities and environmental implementations, is essential to improved hippocampal development and in turn improved memory and learning performance. Notably, the effects of enrichment factors are not individually important, but cumulative (Praag, Kemperman, Gage, 2000). Opposing this is restraint stress which inhibits cell proliferation and BDNF levels (Xu , et al, 2004), increases cortisol production (Kirschbaum, et al, 1995), suppresses neurogenesis (Pham, et al, 2003), and induces atrophy in the hippocampus (Watanabe, Gould, McEwen, 1992).Physical activity is known to modulate cortisol levels (Rimmele, et al 2009), increase BDNF levels (Currie, et al, 2009), increase hippocampal volume (Erikson, et al, 2011), and increase neurogenesis (Brown, et al, 2003). This study proposes to conduct restraint stress research and its impact on biomarkers associated with learning performance and intelligence in a school age population. Restraint stress being scholastic seat time in comparison to various levels of physical activity. We will test/validate biomarker levels with learning performance and neurogenesis in an animal model, and then test this model in a school population.
Animals: Adult mice will be subjected to 10 minutes of restraint stress, then biomarker (blood cortisol, HR and BP tested), we will then (i) compare their performance in a serial choice paradigm and (ii) assess neurogenesis in the dentate gyrus using doublecortin as a marker.
Classroom: We will compare three levels of physical activity (PA) in a 4th/5th grade population (mean = 9.5 years; n=60): no exercise, current school PA, and a Tabata protocol conducted the first 5-8 minutes of 5-6 class periods. The duration of the project will be six months or 2 quarters. Tests can be conducted to measure monthly changes in salivary BDNF and cortisol, HR and BP changes weekly, and pre-post intelligence scores and GPA. Independent variable includes PA regimen. Dependant variables include BDNF and Cortisol, HR and BP, and intelligence. Control variables include age and extra-curricular physical activity, and extra-curricular social activity (no school club or sport participation). A small subsample from each PA regimen could be examined using MRI to determine effects on hippocampal volume (Giedd, et al, 1996).
This was preceded by this doctoral thesis (Ed.D.) which demonstrates the underlying theory that can bridge the gap between neuroscience and education (see figure 1, pg 17 within text):
"Learning involves two factors: increasing both cognitive and informational capacity. Increasing informational capacity through adequate content exposure is the role of the field of education; increasing cognitive capacity by normal biological development and added enrichment is the role of mind/brain science research. To create behavioral change, neither process can act in isolation of the other. Educational neuroscience is the bridge between these two roles. Therefore, it is introduced within the education and neuroscience argument that a linear theory for the investigation of this bridge between biology and learning outcomes can be generalized as: Physical activity --> neurogenesis --> intelligence --> learning performance."
That was preceded first by this Master's thesis (link) which developed a theory upon which to build the relevant substructure between neuroscience and educational outcomes -- literally tracing the physiology from inhalation across the nasal sinus to relevant brain proteins and cascades to the effects of chess, exercise, and nutrition that leads to improved scholastic performance.