Physics, pedagogy, and cognitive neuroscience at the crossroads
We point out possible pedagogical implications of recent developments in cognitive neuroscience such as results of studies of the structure and function of the brain from gross anatomy and physiology (e.g., functional magnetic resonance imaging of the brain) to cellular (neuronal), to genetic and molecular levels (action of neurotransmitters and neuropeptides). On the other hand, at the macroscopic behavioral level, we also look at the use of tools of theoretical physics for mathematical modeling of teaching-learning interactions.
Our study has the practical aim of direct application in real school classroom situations for enhanced learning, and the overarching goal of fostering high-impact creativity and problem-solving abilities in diverse domains of human activity. We then remark on how we have incorporated theoretical considerations and empirical results in the design and implementation of various features of the CVIF Dynamic Learning Program (DLP). In particular, although there are many areas of pedagogical application of studies of motivation, perception, cognition, learning, and memory in the light of advances in the neurosciences, we shall consider as an illustrative example the problem of attention and learning in school. We use insights from different perspectives such as cognitive psychology, vision and display design, and self-organizing processes. We take learning as a function of focus, where focus is defined as high intensity attention while seeking resolution of multiple percepts in a cognitive process for achievement of a well-defined goal. With the observed strong dependence of learning on the learner’s attention, assuming a normal range of innate abilities, the problem of maximizing learning is treated as a problem of determining the factors that induce or inhibit the onset, enhance the intensity, and ensure stability of attentive focused behavior. We then discuss how these factors guide the selection of instructional strategies for the CVIFDLP.