Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines
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© 2018 The Authors. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health. Educational neuroscience is an interdisciplinary research field that seeks to translate research findings on neural mechanisms of learning to educational practice and policy and to understand the effects of education on the brain. Neuroscience and education can interact directly, by virtue of considering the brain as a biological organ that needs to be in the optimal condition to learn (‘brain health’); or indirectly, as neuroscience shapes psychological theory and psychology influences education. In this article, we trace the origins of educational neuroscience, its main areas of research activity and the principal challenges it faces as a translational field. We consider how a pure psychology approach that ignores neuroscience is at risk of being misleading for educators. We address the major criticisms of the field comprising, respectively, a priori arguments against the relevance of neuroscience to education, reservations with the current practical operation of the field, and doubts about the viability of neuroscience methods for diagnosing disorders or predicting individual differences. We consider future prospects of the field and ethical issues it raises. Finally, we discuss the challenge of responding to the (welcome) desire of education policymakers to include neuroscience evidence in their policymaking, while ensuring recommendations do not exceed the limitations of current basic science.
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