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Six Ways Schools Are Using Neuroscience to Help Kids Learn

Schools around the world are incorporating neuroscience research into the school day, to help kids with dyslexia and to teach complex math skills

(© Randy Faris/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

Scientists, teachers and policy makers increasingly recognize the importance of understanding how the brain works when developing learning programs for students. Across the globe, a number of schools are using principles of neuroscience to help students concentrate, regulate their emotions, retain information and more. In honor of back-to-school season, here are some of the neatest neuroscience-based learning projects we’ve heard of so far. 

Computer-based brain enhancement: New Zealand

On New Zealand’s North Island, the Korakonui School has launched a neuroscience-based program called Brain Gain to help students with learning disabilities, such as ADHD and dyslexia. The program has three parts.

The first part involves having the students use an online program called CogMed, which is designed to improve attention spans by enhancing working memory. Students spend time doing exercises that, with colorful graphics and names like “Asteroid” and “Space Whack,” feel like computer games, but are made to help practice things like remembering patterns and numbers. The second part of Brain Gain is a literacy program called Steps, another gamified online program designed to help students build the cognitive skills—visual recognition, auditory sequencing, kinesthetic memory and so on—necessary for reading well. The third part is yet another computer program, Fast ForWard, which utilizes neuroscience research to “exercise” students' brains, enhancing cognitive skills like memory and comprehension. According to anecdotal evidence from parents and teachers, Brain Gain, begun in April 2014, is already showing positive results. 

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