Brain Research and Education: A Resource Base

Laura Brooks, Bonnie Curran and Yvonne Sawyer – EDUC 524 10/25/01

Journal Articles / Research

Baylor, Steven C.  (2000). Brain research and technology education.  The

Technology Teacher, 59, 6-11.

Describes how the relationship between brain development and educational practices is unfolding.  Baylor goes into detail of the four major findings in research of the brain and educational practices.  The first finding states that the brain changes physiologically as a result of experience.  IQ is not fixed at birth is finding two, and finding three states that some abilities are acquired more easily during certain sensitive periods, or windows of opportunity.  Finding four concludes that learning is strongly influenced by emotion.  Baylor also details the four parallels that can be drawn between technology education and new brain research.

Epstein, H. T. (2001). An outline of the role of brain in human cognitive development. Brain and Cognition, 45, 44-51.

Most brain research, as applied to the classroom, emphasizes the development of cognition in a rich, rewarding, stimulating environment beyond the classroom. What becomes of students from impoverished home environments? Epstein finds that brain development occurs in stages not unlike the Piagetian stages of reasoning development, and offers suggestions as to how instruction needs to be organized to make the most of these cognitive stages for children who do not receive much intellectual stimulation outside of the school.

Fischer, K. W., & Rose, S. P. (1998). Growth cycles of brain and mind. Educational Leadership, 56, (3), 56-60.

Exciting findings in the Cognitive Development Laboratory of Harvard University highlight the growth cycles of the brain which individuals experience between birth and the age of 30. Researchers propose that students function at an average or lower levels and it is up to teachers to provide the contextual framework for them to take advantage of their optimal learning level opportunities.

Jensen, Eric (2000).  Brain-based learning: a reality check.  Educational

Leadership, 57, 76-9.

Explores what we really know about brain-based learning and research. Educators who link brain science with teaching and learning must be cautious in what they use, what they believe and how they teach.  Educators must find out what makes a good study, who funds it, what the reputation of the researcher is, how the study is designed, and what the implications of and constraints on the findings are.  Jensen also distinguishes myth from reality in brain-based learning ideas and research.

Jensen, Eric (1998).  How Julie’s brain learns.  Educational Leadership, 56, (3), 41-46.

Follow a typical student through her day at school—from the perspective of the brain!

Leamson, R. (2000). Learning as biological brain change. Change, 32 (6), 34-41.

Going beyond Piaget, Bloom, and Vygotsky, Leamson encourages educators to look strictly to learning as a biological function of the brain for a new approach to pedagogy. A learning model based on biology and a new role for pedagogy is introduced.

Sylwester, R. (1994).  How emotions affect learning. Educational Leadership, 52 (2),


The author of this article advocates a variety of strategies to encourage positive

emotional outlets for students and staff.  Emotions have a broad range on a

continuum from pleasure to pain.  Certain biochemical reactions trigger and

release into the circulatory system affecting all other organs such as the heart,

lungs and skin.

Sylwester, R. (2000).  Unconscious emotions, conscious feelings. Educational        Leadership, 52 (3), 20-24.

The author focuses on unconscious emotions and any stimulus that affects

behaviors and feelings when students feel their locus of control is threatened.

He advocates the use of play and drama, along with competitive games and sport,

to encourage and promote intrapersonal and interpersonal skills.   

Weiss, R. P. (2000). Brain based learning. Training & Development, 54 (7), 21-28.

A useful resource because it includes information on memory and motivation; two categories that seem to be omitted from most other articles on brain research that appear in educational literature. A list of brain facts and links to web sites with brain-based learning information are highlighted.

Wolfe, P., & Brandt, R. (1998). What do we know from brain research? Educational Leadership, 56 (3), 8-13.

An excellent overview article that highlights major findings in neuroscience and their possible application to education.  The authors stress that scientists are reluctant to advise educators in the applications of brain research to the classroom as neuroscience findings are in their nascent stage and constantly changing. In addition, there has been very little substantive research in the practical applications of neuroscience to the classroom; thus educators are advised to use findings judiciously and to avoid fads in teaching by more closely examining the research.


Byrne, J. P. (2001). Minds, brains, and learning: understanding the psychological    relevance of neuroscientific research. New York: The Guilford Press.

Taking a very objective approach, the author provides arguments for and against the relevance of brain research while reviewing the methods of neuroscientific research methods and their limitations. A technical overview of the brain with a useful matrix of what areas of the brain come into play during specific cognitive and learning tasks leads into chapters on brain development, memory, attention, emotion, and finally specific subject areas taught in school like reading and mathematics. This book is essential for anyone who wants a clear, objective exploration of the role of brain research in education.

Caine, R. N. & Caine, G. (1994). Making connections: teaching and the human brain. Menlo Park, CA: Addison-Westley.

Written by a Professor of Education and Educational Consultant and first published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ACSD), this book suggests that brain-based teaching is the chief means for educational reform. Divided into three parts, the authors first introduce the concept of brain-based learning, then cover the facts and theories on the human brain, and finally conclude with a chapter on applying what is known about the brain to schooling.

Ellis, Arthur (2001).  Research on educational innovations.  3rd.  Ed.  Innovations

from brain research (pp. 69-83).  Larchmont, NY: Eye On Education.

This is a text that offers fundamentals as definitions, descriptions, theoretical and empirical bases, critical analysis, and conclusions.  This chapter offers the latest research and fundamentals having to do with brain research and educational innovations.  Includes learning principles and teaching models, as well as, the latest research on education and the brain.  Provides the history of brain research and expands to the implications for the future.

Gurian, M., Henley, P, & Trueman, T. (2000). Boys and girls learn differently: a guide for teachers and parents. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass.

Introduces research that demonstrates how the brain differs for each sex and how this results in differences in learning (it should be noted that neuroscience research in this area is very new). The authors explore the current state of education for boys and girls in the classroom before offering suggestions for how to create the “ultimate classroom” for each grade level based on gender differences in the brain and social development. While interesting to read, the book is not grounded in substantive neuroscientific research but is more interested in “prescribing” remedies for classroom management and motivation based on teacher observations in the classroom.

Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

As a former teacher and educational consultant, Jensen has published many articles on brain-based teaching and learning. This book serves as a concise introduction to brain function and research as applied to education.  In addition to covering the basics, he includes chapters on movement and memory as related to learning; two areas that are often omitted from journal literature. At the close of each chapter, Jensen provides practical suggestions for educators.

Restak, Richard M.D. (1995).  Brainscapes. New York: Hyperion

The author, a well known neurologist, describes the brain structure and its components; how it operates consciously and unconsciously; and the effects of pharmacology which modify personality, behavior and emotions.

Tileston, Donna Walker (2000).  10 best teaching practices: how brain research,

learning styles and standards define teaching competencies.  Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

This book describes effective teaching and learning using educational innovations and change.  Offers suggestions, tips, and teaching methods to best utilize all of the functions of the brain and allow our students to think and learn to their full potential.  These 10 best teaching practices are based on the best research in the field and on real classroom experience by practitioners.

Williams, Linda Verlee (1983).  Teaching for the two-sided mind.  New York: NY:

Simon and Shuster.

A guide to right brain/left brain education  Includes chapters on learning with the whole brain; scientific theory and educational practice; strategies and modes of thinking; metaphor; visual thinking, fantasy, multi-sensory learning; direct experience and how to get started in your own classroom!

Visual Media Materials

Diamond, M. C. (1990). Within the human brain. [videocassette] Lawrence Hall of Science, Berkeley, CA. 60 minutes.

In this videotape, Marian Diamond, Professor of Integrative Biology at University of California at Berkeley, dissects a brain for a group of students ranging from the elementary to graduate level. During the dissection, she conducts a question and answer session with the students. (For Grades 4- Adult).

Benesh, B. R. (1999). The human brain. [videocassette kit] Alexandria, VA: Association      for the Supervision of Curriculum and Development.

Produced for inclusion in the ASCD Professional Inquiry series, this multimedia kit includes a 20 minute videocassette that overviews the role of the human brain in learning; it includes excerpted interviews with Geoffrey Caine, a leading proponent for the application of brain research to the classroom. Specific topics include: learning in study groups; brain basics, the role of emotion in learning, how memory works, how the brain makes meaning, brain-friendly learning environments, optimal learning times, and refining and extending learning. 

Web sites

Eisenhower Southwest Consortium for the Improvement of Mathematics and Science      Teaching (2000). How can research on the brain inform education? Classroom        Compass, 3 (2). [On-line serial] Retrieved October 9, 20001, from    

The issue of this on-line journal provides an overview of brain research as applied to education, resources for further exploration, and a useful table highlighting the implications for teaching.

Fischer, K. W. (2001). Mind, brain, and education: Harvard Graduate School of Education.

            Retrieved October 11, 2001, from

As the home page for the Mind, Brain, and Education Master’s Degree concentration offered at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, it offers the latest neuroscience research as it applies to education in the form of Web links, lectures, current research projects, and publications.

Poliakoff, A. R. (2001).  Brain research and educational practice. Basic Education, 45 (8),    2 pages.  [On-line serial] Retrieved October 9, 2001, from


This site is for the skeptical inquirers among us. The Council for Basic Education provides an editorial and several articles including one written by a student in Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education’s Mind, Brain, and Education program that encourages educators to take a closer, more critical look at the implications of using what little is known about the brain and learning in the classroom without further large scale studies to support the claims on brain research made by the educational community.

Nunley, K. & Van Tassell, G. (2001). Practical brain applications of current brain research.   Retrieved October 3, 2001, from

An interactive site that includes the latest research and links to current neuropsychological research and education, visitors can read the latest research in brain imaging studies as applied to education. You can access Layer Curriculum, which is a practical guide for educators to

implement different teaching methods.  You can access dozens of articles about brain-based learning and the classroom, as well as keep abreast on the latest research results on adolescent brains and how they learn!