Ouch! Does Pain Change The Brain?

Find Out Why This Matters WAY More Than You Think It Might

For some of us, it’s a deep secret.

We ache, we suffer and spend part of our lives full of misery. We know that all of us, our students and ourselves, experience pain. Whether it’s a headache, or more serious back, leg or shoulder pain, we feel miserable when we hurt. While temporary pain is one thing to our body and brain, chronic pain is a whole different entity. I’d guess you know that the pain we feel is a result of the signaling processing in our brains as much as or more than the signaling from site of the injury in our body. Why is this relevant? Why should you care about chronic pain as an educator?

Actually, you’d care a LOT if you knew what happens to your brain when you experience chronic pain. In fact, you’ll be so shocked at how your brain responds to it that you’ll say to yourself, “Oh, that’s why such-and-such happens!” It will also help you understand WHY some kids at school perform and behave they way they do. It’ll help you understand why some staff at your school (who complain of chronic pain) behave the way they do.

Well, what is it? What happens to your brain when you experience chronic pain?

Here, we’ll explore three questions: 1) is there real evidence that chronic pain changes our brain? 2) is the change positive or negative to learning and behavior? 3) what does this suggest we actually do about it? (more…)

10 Critical Things You Should Know About Brain Based Education

ADCD article by Eric Jensen

October 2010 Leaders of Learners – Eric Jensen article published. Texas ASCD.

The brain is involved in everything we do and it takes many approaches to understand it better. Brain-based education has withstood the test of time and an accumulating body of empirical and experiental evidence confirms the validity of the new paradigm. Many educationally significant, even profound, brain-based discoveries have occurred in recent years such as neurogenesis, the production of new neurons in the human brain. It is highly likely that these discoveries would have been ignored if the education profession hadn’t been primed, alerted, and actively monitoring cognitive neuroscience research and contemplating its implications and applications.

Why Brain-Based is a “No Brainer”

Let’s start this discussion with a simple, but essential, premise: the brain is intimately involved in and connected with everything educators and students do at school. Any disconnect is a recipe for frustration and potentially disaster. Brain-based education is best understood in three words: engagement, strategies, and principles. Here you will learn the principles of how the synergy of biology, cognitive science, and education can support better education with direct application to schools. Here are some of the powerful connections for educators to make in our new understanding of the new brain-based paradigm.

One

1. Highly relevant is the recent discovery that the human brain can and does grow new neurons. Many survive and become functional. Now we now know that new neurons are highly correlated with memory, mood, and learning. Of interest to educators is that this process can be regulated by our everyday behaviors, which include exercise, lowering stress, and nutrition. Schools can and should influence these variables. This discovery came straight from neuroscientists Gerd Kempermann and Fred Gage. Practical school application: support more – not less – physical activity, recess, and classroom movement.

Read the rest of the article here..

A Statement On Higher Education

A thought provoking video… a few years old, but we thought we’d share it with those that may not have seen it (almost 4 million views on YouTube).

It summarizes some of the most important characteristics of students today – how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime.

Created by Michael Wesch in collaboration with 200 students at Kansas State University.

One of the 5 Greatest Discoveries in Neuroscience History is Being Largely Ignored



A teacher came up to me at a recent conference. She was glowing about how much she’s been learning about the brain. Naturally, I was happy for her. I asked her what she was most excited about. She said, “Well…just that the brain can change and grow… and it’s got all those dendrites, axons and synapses!

I smiled because I remember the same excitement when I first got excited about the brain. I wanted so badly (as did the teacher) to be able to label the new learning. Labeling things (e.g. new vocabulary) gives us a way to store the terms in our brain by category, function or word part. Labels are important to our learning.

Unfortunately, the excited teacher didn’t seem to get exposure to the most important part of the new learning experience: the relevant properties of the label. The properties are such a critical feature of learning, that the labels are nearly irrelevant without them.

What does this have to do with one of the 5 greatest discoveries in neuroscience?

Without any doubt, one of the top five discoveries, in the history of mind/brain science is neurogenesis. This discovery (Eriksson, et al.,1998) showed that humans can and do produce brand new brain cells, even as we are elderly and dying of cancer. As of this writing, we know that they are being produced in at least three areas of the brain, including the hippocampus. This discovery overturned over 100 years of scientific dogma. It also forced us to modify our outdated paradigm of how our brain works. It is, in fact, far more malleable than we earlier thought.

But that’s not the main point…

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Teaching With Poverty In Mind – An Overview

The ASCD posted a great 6-part series where Eric Jensen gives an overview on the challenges of teaching children in poverty, and how schools can help children overcome the challenges that poverty presents.

To view the series on what being poor does to kids’ brains  – and how we can help them to succeed.

A Professional Development Webinar with Special Guest, Eric Jensen.

Scientific Learning Corporation invites you to a Professional Development webinar with special guest, Eric Jensen.

He will be discussing the “7 Discoveries From Brain Research That Could Revolutionize Education” and how these discoveries have “real world implication” for all educators. Join the session to learn how you can apply this research to succeed with your students in the classroom. This webinar will take place on Tuesday, September 28th at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern time.

Please click HERE to register ASAP as space is limited. If you have any questions, please email webinars@scilearn.com.



When Clear Instruction And Visual Aids Are Not Enough

Why Gesturing is Far More Important Than You Ever Thought

Technology is moving quickly into every child’s education. The computers are filled with text and pictures, cartoons and drawings. Yet, in spite of all the amazing things that technology can do, some kids still don’t “get it.” What are some possible missing ingredients?

The more you know about learning the better. Here’s one item to consider: the nonverbals by the instructor are often missing from the menu in many kinds of technology. Gestures reveal unspoken messages and can reflect additional knowledge in both child and adult learners.

For example…

Years ago, UCLA pioneer Albert Mehrabian did landmark studies on nonverbal communication. He was the first to put numbers to the research, showing that the majority of ALL interpersonal communication is from nonverbal messages (1967). He described the tonality, facial expressions and a host of other nonverbal avenues that influence the message.

Just a subset of all possible nonverbals, gestures have been recently studied in the role of classroom learning. Gestures can also play a role in changing how the child or the adult REPRESENTS thoughts, either directly or indirectly.

Because gesturing reflects thoughts, it’s also an early marker of a change in thinking or emotional state. In this way, it can be used as a DIAGNOSTIC tool, since many problems will show us as improper, or missing, gestures. When students cannot gesture a thought, they may be having trouble conceptualizing it, too. In fact, gesturing (or its lack) may be the first sign of future developmental difficulty. And because gesturing can change thought, it may prove to be useful in the home, the classroom, and the clinic as a way to alter the pace, and perhaps the course, of learning and development.

Wow!

Children frequently gesture when they explain what they know, and their gestures sometimes convey different information than their speech does. This suggests that gesturing is indeed a vehicle through which children express their understanding. The knowledge children express uniquely in the form of gestures is accessible on other tasks, and in this sense, is not tied to the hands.

Gesturing might encourage children to extract meaning implicit in their hand movements. If so, children should be sensitive to the particular movements they produce and learn accordingly. Recently, investigators manipulated student gesturing during a math lesson. Children required to produce correct gestures LEARNED MORE than children required to produce only partially correct gestures, or NONE AT ALL. Hence, research findings suggest that a child’s body movements are involved not only in processing old ideas, but also in creating new ones.

Why do gestures work? One theory is that gesturing actually lightens cognitive load while a person is thinking of what to say. There is scientific support for this theory (see all of the references below). Another possible reason (my own theory) is that it makes the brain work harder to CHANGE THE REPRESENTATION from an abstract idea to a CONCRETE thought, hence, they learn better.

Telling children to gesture encourages them to convey previously unexpressed, implicit ideas; which, in turn, makes them receptive to instruction that leads to learning. Previous studies have shown that gesturing improves learning. In summary, researchers found that children told to move their hands in a fully correct rendition of a particular problem-solving strategy (grouping) during a math lesson solved dramatically more math problems correctly. More in “Applications” below.

Want better math scores? Lean in and let’s “flesh out” what we learned from the studies above.

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