Graduate students connect education and neuroscience

By Communications Staff
May 02, 2014

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Western graduate students Stephanie Budgen and Anna Matejko’s work in the area of cognitive neuroscience is now part of a new web-based, open-access science journal launced by Nature Publishing Group recently at the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Frontiers for Young Minds aims to involve children and young people in the research process

Under the supervison Daniel Ansari, Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, Budgen submitted When your brain can't do 2+2: a case of Developmental Dyscalculia, which explores the developmental struggle an alarming number of children have learning simple mathematics; while Matejko published White matter counts: Brain connections help us do 2+2, which reviews the emerging technologies used to explore how brain structure relates to math learning.

Budgen and Matejko have kick-started promising academic careers, working with Ansari in Western's Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute, by participating in the highly competitive Latin American School for Education (LA School) the past two academic years.

Budgen just returned from her two-week study in Punta del Este, Uruguay, while Matejko attended in 2013 when it was held in Bahia, Brazil. In each respective class, the pair were the only students from Canada to be selected to participate in this international school.

Matejko and her classmates from last year's LA School have already generated a paper, which was recently published by Trends in Neuroscience and Education. Along with co-authors from the U.K., Germany and Latin America, the researchers propose the emergence of a new and distinct field of study that combines neuroscience and education.

This field would use a multidisciplinary approach that would integrate both researchers and teachers to answer questions such as, How can we identify children who will struggle in school? This is in contrast to the current approach where education and neuroscience are largely two distinct fields.

Poor communication between researchers and educators has been ineffective in the past, leading to issues such as neuromyths. This multidisciplinary approach would attempt to revolutionize this issue and answer educationally relevant questions.



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