The field of neuroscience deals with studying the nervous system, from neurons to behaviour, and calls upon a vast array of disciplines ranging from biology to chemistry, including mathematics and computer science. This field is diverse and can be broken down into several branches or sub-disciplines. Here are the main ones!
First coined in the 1960s, the term "neuroscience" refers to the scientific study of the nervous system, including our fascinating brain, from its most fundamental aspects, such as molecules and cells, to the integrative dimensions that underlie our cognitive and behavioural functions. Although much remains to be discovered, giant steps have been made in this field over the past few decades. To appreciate how far we have come, nothing is better than looking back at some of the milestones that have marked this history.
From encoding to recall to consolidation, stress can interfere with each of the key stages of memory. In fact, it represents one of the biggest obstacles to the smooth running of this process. Even once information is stored in our long-term memory, stress can momentarily prevent us from retrieving it. That said, the relationships between stress and memory are complex chemistry, some of which may surprise you. Here's a look at some of them!
Knowing more about the modus operandi of a learning brain allows us to re-evaluate our approaches to teaching and studying. As we know, studying is just as important as attending class, if not more so. However, thanks to neuroscience, we now know that not all study strategies are equal and that some are even counterproductive, despite being used for generations. To guide you, here are three mistakes to avoid when you are in study mode!
We are all familiar with the concepts of short-term and long-term memories, which cognitive psychology has long presented to us as our two major types of temporal memories. Over time, our knowledge of these two memories has been refined, primarily through neuroscience, and we now know a little more about how they work. So let's take a look at the two facets of our short-term memory!
Our long-term memory can store an unlimited amount of information over a period ranging from a few hours to a lifetime. It includes the memory of recent events, which are still being processed, as well as consolidated memories. Without this memory, we would not have access to the events that have marked our lives or to all that we have learned, be it on an intellectual, emotional or motor level. This memory is based on three main chronological processes. Here they are!
We talk less about the importance of taking time off work than we do about eating well or being physically active. Our demanding lives and the performance culture we struggle to break away from mean that we too often ignore our signs of fatigue and persist as best as possible in our daily activities, whether we are workers or students. Difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation and mental wandering are part of our normality... However, numerous studies that have examined the consequences of depriving ourselves of rest and vacation time indicate that we put our mental and physical health at risk by ignoring these necessary periods of disconnection.
Neuroscience has given us privileged access to the brain for the past thirty years. With the help of sophisticated equipment, including brain imaging, they have allowed us to decode our brains better and understand specific issues, including some related to learning. Although this discipline alone cannot guide us in education, its influence has become essential. Here are ten fields of action in which its contribution should be followed!
Over the last few decades, neuroscience has begun to confirm or refute certain hypotheses we had about how the brain works, in addition to leading us down new paths of knowledge. Given the complexity of this fascinating organ, we are only at the beginning of this promising exploration. However, thanks to brain imaging, we know a little more about some of its particularities at different stages of life and their links with learning.
Our brain is never really at rest. When it is not busy with a specific task, it can daydream or ruminate, depending on our mood, but it never stops being active. This is what neuroscientists have uncovered by discovering the functioning of its so-called "default" network, which is activated in a way that is opposite to the executive network that manages our high-level cognitive processes.