This award will fund a symposium that will provide information and opportunities for collaboration for the purpose of translating discoveries in developmental cognitive neuroscience into classroom practices. This conference will bring together cognitive neuroscientists, psychologists, experts in human development, educational researchers, teachers, and parents to increase understanding of the issues important for creating effective learning methods for both the typical development of cognitive skills and for those with learning disabilities. The conference agenda will address the following issues: 1) the early cognitive developmental factors that prepare the brain for learning; 2) the most recent advances in developmental cognitive neuroscience research to inform development of novel teaching methods and remediation; 3) discoveries related to both typical and atypical development within the topical areas of reading and language, mathematical ability, and executive function and attention; 4) the relationships between learning each of these "modular" skills and an underlying neural system for learning and skill acquisition that crosses all domains; 5) the unique social, emotional, and economic problems that are associated with poor outcomes in school, and 6) strategies for translating new findings from the laboratory into improved learning methods in the classroom.
New discoveries in the field of developmental cognitive neuroscience hold great promise for improving current teaching methods. Yet there remains a significant gap between the scientific discoveries that could improve our education system and the application of this knowledge. This meeting will highlight cutting-edge developments in cognitive neuroscience that could improve current teaching methods and will include a careful review of the current obstacles to applying these methods in the classroom as well as the related emotional, sociological and environmental factors. This meeting is also expected to increase collaborations and communications among basic researchers and educators and will include detailed and extensive dissemination for both the scientific community and lay public.
," took place on September 22 – 24, 2011 in Aspen, CO. This meeting highlighted developments in cognitive neuroscience with the potential to improve teaching methods and reviewed the successes and obstacles to applying these methods in the classroom, as well as the related emotional, sociological and environmental factors. This symposium brought together 185 cognitive neuroscientists, psychologists, experts in human development, educational researchers, policymakers, teachers, and parents. Additionally, a public lecture was held in which Goldie Hawn, Founder of the Hawn Foundation, presented "The Brain and The Optimistic Classroom: Mindful Learning, Resilient Students." She discussed how incorporating mindfulness and self-regulation practices into the education curriculum can improve learning. Plenary sessions of the conference addressed the following: 1) early cognitive developmental factors that prepare the brain for learning; 2) advances in developmental cognitive neuroscience research to inform development of teaching methods and remediation; 3) discoveries related to both typical and atypical development within four topical areas - reading and language, mathematical ability, executive function and attention, and learning and memory; 4) relationships between these four "modular" skills and an underlying brain-wide neural system for learning and skill acquisition; 5) unique social, emotional, and economic problems that are associated with poor outcomes in school; and 6) practical applications of translating research into the classroom. During the conference, The New York Academy of Sciences and the Aspen Brain Forum Foundation awarded two prizes of $7,500 each in unrestricted funds—one to a senior scientist and one to an early-career investigator—for innovation and excellence in the fields of neuroscience and education. Winners were chosen for their ability to translate discoveries from cognitive neuroscience into innovative curricula and tools that enhance learning. The winner of the early-career investigator award was Kimberley Lakes, Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California. Dr. Lakesâ€™ research demonstrated that an exercise intervention incorporating Taekwondo improved emotion-regulation and optimized decision making abilities in children. The winner of the senior scientist award was Usha Goswami, Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience and Director of the Centre for Neuroscience in Education at the University of Cambridge. Dr. Goswami examined the neural underpinnings of phonology, rhyme, and rhythm in childrenâ€™s reading. A goal of the conference was to define the obstacles and milestones needed to bring promising neuroscience research into the classroom. The Day 2 panel discussed how to integrate cognitive neuroscience findings into new media learning tools, including video games and online interactive software. An obstacle highlighted by this discussion was the importance of generalizing the expertise learned from software to schoolwork. Panelists concluded that one attainable goal for neuroscience research should be to help define the optimal variability in a task to achieve this transfer of learned skills. The Day 3 panel focused on guiding a national education policy or program based on data from cognitive neuroscience. This panel identified that it was necessary to organize and report research in a centralized way, and that governmental infrastructure should be created to accomplish this. Another goal for this meeting was to foster collaborations in the growing community of neuroscience researchers interested in applying research findings to education. This was accomplished by convening a diverse group of individuals from academia, industry, education, government and media. The 185 conference participants represented 35 national and international universities, 20 preschools, elementary and secondary schools and districts, and 26 companies, as well as state and local governments and members of the press, among others. These individuals were able to interact through the networking reception, breaks and meals, and during discussion panels. Several complementary resources were also created to reach out to members of the scientific, education and lay community that were not able to attend the conference. A podcast featuring interviews with conference speakers was made freely available online. In the podcast, "What Your Brain Can Tell You about Learning", released November 2011, speakers discussed neuroscience research that provides insight into education practices. Since its release, this podcast has been downloaded 4,064 times. Additionally, an open-access conference eBriefing (online multimedia report) was published, including a full conference summary, abstracts, speakersâ€™ presentations with synchronized audio, and related resources. Since its publication in December 2011, it has been accessed 3,712 times. Finally, an online meeting report is scheduled for publication in Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences in 2013. This conference has resulted in a partnership with Scientific American Mind and the Academyâ€™s Science Education Initiative to organize a conference for Fall 2013 aimed at teachers and educators. By bringing the neuroscience and education communities together at regular intervals, we expect to continue to foster joint ideas and increase collaborative efforts for the development of new teaching and learning tools informed by scientific research.