The emergence of neuroscientific evidence on brain plasticity: Implications for educational practice

Paul Rees, Rhonda Booth, Alice Jones

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Aim: This paper considers the research evidence on brain plasticity and its relevance for education. Rationale: The human brain develops at a phenomenal rate typically reaching 95 percent of its adult size by 6 years of age. This paper highlights some of the structural, neurobiological, neurochemical and functional changes that are said to occur following early childhood. The implications for contemporary education are explored. Findings: There is ample evidence that the brain changes in respect of structure, synaptic density, neurotransmission, interconnectivity and functioning throughout childhood and adolescence. It is also increasingly evident that the brain's plasticity makes it susceptible to the influence of experience and the environment. Programmes have been developed which purport to draw on this neuroscience, but there is unease amongst neuroscientists that the science is being misrepresented. Examples of the appropriate use of neuroscience in education and clinical casework are discussed. Conclusions: Evidence of brain plasticity has the potential to positively influence education at the strategic, organisational and individual level. It is suggested that the most important contribution that neuroscience has made to education, to date, is to provoke a reconsideration of the prevailing philosophy of education. There is now an urgent need for professionals who can evaluate the claims of neuroscience and assist educationalists to harness the benefits for children and young people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-19
Number of pages12
JournalEducational and Child Psychology
Volume33
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Keywords

  • Childhood
  • Education
  • Neurobiology
  • Neuroscience
  • Plasticity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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