Minds : Understanding the Psychological and Educational Relevance of Neuroscientific Research book cover
1st Edition

Understanding the Psychological and Educational Relevance of Neuroscientific Research

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ISBN 9781572306523
Published June 7, 2001 by Guilford Press
214 Pages

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Book Description

Why should psychologists and educators study the brain? Can neuroscientific research advance our understanding of student learning and motivation? What do informed readers need to know to tell the difference between plausible applications of brain research and unfounded speculation? This timely volume considers the benefits of incorporating findings from cognitive neuroscience into the fields of educational, developmental, and cognitive psychology. The book provides a basic foundation in the methodology of brain research; describes the factors that affect brain development; and reviews salient findings on attention, memory, emotion, and reading and mathematics. For each domain, the author considers the ways that the neuroscientific evidence overlaps with or diverges from existing psychological models. Readers gain skills for assessing the credibility of widely publicized claims regarding critical periods of learning, the effects of stress hormones on the brain, the role of music training in boosting academic performance, and more. Also elucidated are the possible neuroscientific bases of attention deficits, reading problems, and mathematical disabilities in children. The volume concludes by suggesting areas for future investigation that may help answer important questions about individual and developmental differences in learning.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introduction
Chapter 2: Brain Development
Chapter 3: Memory
Chapter 4: Attention
Chapter 5: Emotion
Chapter 6: Reading
Chapter 7: Math Skills
Chapter 8: Conclusions

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James P. Byrnes, PhD, is Professor of Educational Psychology and Applied Developmental Science in the College of Education at Temple University. He was a Fellow of Division 15 (Educational Psychology) of the American Psychological Association between 2002 and 2018, has served as Vice President of the Jean Piaget Society, and was Associate Editor of the Journal of Cognition and Development. Dr. Byrnes has published over 100 books, chapters, and articles on areas of cognitive development, including language development, logical reasoning, and mathematical learning. His most recent work has focused primarily on developing and testing a comprehensive theoretical model of academic achievement (the opportunity–propensity model) in order to provide insight into ways to eliminate or substantially reduce gender, ethnic, and racial gaps in achievement. Dr. Byrnes has received awards for his teaching and mentoring of undergraduate and graduate students.


In the Preface, Byrnes is hopeful that his book will be useful to teachers and others in the field of education who are currently being bombarded with information about the brain in teacher-oriented publications. This goal is amply fulfilled. Even those in education who remain skeptical of the relevance of neuroscience research need to read this book, if only in order to ground their criticisms in evidence. Byrnes delivers a fine summary of current neuroscientific work. The book is not for the specialist, but instead provides a wonderful overview for those relatively new to the field. We need more books like this that attempt to fill the communication gap between the practitioner and the basic researcher. --Keith E. Stanovich, PhD, Department of Human Development and Applied Psychology, University of Toronto

Educators seeking information on how the brain develops to make learning possible need look no further. This balanced, expansive book provides a highly readable account of the latest advances in both cognitive science and neuroscience, with an eye towards educational practice. Offering particular benefits to educational and school psychologists, the book will also be of interest to cognitive and developmental psychologists. --Charles A. Nelson, PhD, Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Psychology, Neuroscience, and Pediatrics, Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota

Byrnes artfully juxtaposes the current status of two emergent disciplines: brain science and cognitive science. Besides succinctly introducing the important role of brain structures in cognitive and educational processes, the text provides a provocative scaffold for rethinking several assumptions related to the interdependence between mental and neural processes. This clear and readable book will be a useful text in both educational psychology and cognitive psychology courses. --Stephen W. Porges, PhD, Center for Developmental Psychobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Illinois at Chicago