Neuroscience and Cognitive Science in Learning

What are Cognitive Sciences?

The Cognitive Sciences are by definition a discipline that is focused on the description, explanation, and simulation of human thought processes such as perception, intelligence, language, memory, attention, reasoning, emotions or even consciousness.

The cognitive sciences could be described as scientific psychology, in the sense that it tries to understand the functioning of human thought. They aim to study the formal and algorithmic properties of mental functions and try to transcribe all the faculties of the human brain.

They are composed of 6 sub-disciplines: Neuroscience, Computational Linguistics, Cognitive Anthropology, Cognitive Psychology, Philosophy of Cognition and Artificial Intelligence. We will focus on the first of these 6 sub-disciplines, neuroscience.

What is neuroscience?

Neuroscience tries to understand and explain how the human brain works. It includes all disciplines related to anatomy and nervous system.

Neuroscience is present in many areas (neuroanatomy, neurophysiology, neurobiology, neurogenetics …) and represents a real interest in the learning field.

What’s the link with learning?

Learning has always been challenged and this is even truer today. As we search for ever more effective methods of learning (such as Peer Learning) we realize that neuroscience could have a major role to play in the learning field. In fact, they make it possible to understand how the brain reacts when it has to learn, whether it’s about acquiring information or memorize it. Many studies have been done on this subject and we still have a lot to explore on that pretty much unknown territory.

To see more clearly, here are several elements related to learning where neuroscience is likely to improve our teaching methods:

  • Attention is used to select information and act directly in the process of memorizing information. Its biggest default: being selective. By picking up only what seems relevant, our selective attention can make us miss a lot of information. To overcome that, it’s necessary to help the learner focus on what’s important, to find the right topics and to communicate in the most efficient way. Thus you will obtain a better attention from the audience.
  • Action helps to increase the quantity of information retained. In fact, it is necessary to engage the learner, whether with Peer Learning, with another method of learning, or just by involving the learner to work on a real case. Several studies have shown that when you’re an actor rather than a spectator, you can increase the memorization rate by more than 50%.
  • Feedback. It’s really practical because it gives you an interesting critique of what you’ve done or your ideas. When you’re right, benevolent feedback will obviously reassure you. When you’re wrong (or have an incomplete information), feedback is even more useful. With the right feedback platform, You can be given answers or pieces of advice really quickly, and with the help of your peers you’ll develop your knowledge and move on. Feedback is optimal for learners. With ChallengeMe we try to always have a positive and caring attitude for the teams during the challenges.
  • Practice and repetition of a task, free up parts of our brain to accumulate new information since we have repeated enough actions. It becomes a natural process which doesn’t require a lot of brain resources. It is estimated that a task must be repeated for an average of 21 days so that it no longer requires any brain effort.

That’s a non-exhaustive list of what neuroscience has improved so far, but you now probably understand why it’s so crucial in the learning field.

What neuroscience means to ChallengeMe:

ChallengeMe attaches a great importance to neuroscience. This is an area that fascinates us and we try to explore it as much as we can. The idea is to offer our customers evermore advanced learning methods, to make them as interesting and effective as possible. Our solution became possible thanks to these scientific studies done in the past. We used relevant data such as (low) percentages of information retained by the brain during a standard presentation, to develop a platform able to maximize the learning potential.

Our challenges have 3 stages during which the key elements mentioned above are applied as much as possible. For example, the 2nd step will provide you with benevolent feedback in the form of constructive comments from your teammates. The advantage of these 3 steps is that we can also work on the repetition. The challenge’s content will always remain available at each step, and you’ll constantly be in action to reinforce the amount of information withheld and maximize the learning you receive.

In conclusion:

  • Neuroscience is important in many domains but we find that it’s absolutely crucial in the learning field. It allows us to understand how the human brain works and process the information. Many past and recent studies help us adjust existing learning methods and create new ones,to be more effective in acquiring new knowledge and competencies.

    If you’re interested in neuroscience in learning and want to read more about it, we suggest the lecture of Philippe Lacroix’s book: “Neurolearning: neuroscience at the service of training”