This section contains educationally relevant research projects from participating laboratories
Out of the lab: bringing neuroscience research into the classroom
In our team, we’re doing something that’s never been done before: We’re taking neuroscience research out of the lab and we’re bringing it into the classroom.
Together with a team of researchers at NYU and the University of Florida, students and teachers investigate how their brain supports dynamic classroom interactions using portable EEG technology. Students are involved in the design and execution of this research project, and participate as experimental subjects throughout the school year.
Watch our research in action here
Brain-to-brain synchrony during class
What makes for a good classroom learning experience? Do you “click” better with your teacher and fellow students in one situation as opposed to another? Is this affected by how you feel during class (stress, exhaustion, distraction, etc.)? Our research shows that students’ brainwaves are more in sync during class if they are engaged with the class material and with each other. In addition, teacher likability is correlated with student-teacher brain synchrony and how well students retain the class content.
Bevilacqua, D.*, Davidesco, I.*, Wan, L., Oostrik, M., Chaloner, K., Rowland, J., Ding, M., Poeppel, D., Dikker, S. (in press). Brain-to-brain synchrony and learning outcomes vary by student-teacher dynamics: Evidence from a real-world classroom EEG study. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Dikker, S.*, Wan, L.*, Davidesco, I., Kaggen, L., Oostrik, M., McClintock, J., Rowland, J., Michalareas, G., Van Bavel, J.J., Ding, M., Poeppel, D. (2017). Brain-to-brain synchrony tracks real-world dynamic group interactions in the classroom. Current Biology 27(9), 1375–1380. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2017.04.002
Class times and students’ brain states
Researchers, parents, and educators consistently observe a stark mismatch between biologically preferred sleep-wake hours and socially imposed sleep-wake hours in adolescents, fueling an ongoing public debate about high school start times. We contribute neural evidence to this debate with electroencephalogram (EEG) data from 22 high school students, collected during their regular classes, taught in the early morning, mid-morning, or afternoon. Students’ baseline alpha brain activity decreased as the time of day progressed, consistent with adolescents being least attentive early in the morning. Similarly, quiz scores were higher for materials learned in mid-morning classes than early-morning classes. While students showed consistently worse performance and higher alpha power in the early morning classes, quiz scores and alpha levels in the afternoon varied by individual focus as well as class activity. Together, our findings demonstrate that class time is reflected in adolescents’ brain responsiveness and suggest that mid-morning may be the best time to learn.