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Brain scientists offer medical educators tips on the neurobiology of learning
Date:3/30/2011

e, store, and retrieve information. In addition to molecular and cellular approaches to describe the workings of the underlying hardware changes that occur in the brain during learning and the formation of memories, there has also been progress in higher-order, human-based studies of cognition, including learning and memory. Scientists have used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the living brain combined with computational modeling to elucidate the strategies employed and the underlying biological processes.

The research has shown how learning leads to functional and structural changes in the cellular networks including the chemical communication points or synapses between neurons at a variety of sites throughout the central nervous system. The functional changes in the effectiveness of communication between individual neurons and within networks of neurons are accompanied by substantial changes in the structural circuitry of the brain, once thought to be hard-wired in adults.

"One of the most exciting advances, as a result of optical imaging of the living brain, is the demonstration that there is growth, retraction, and modifying connectivity between neurons," said Friedlander. "We have also seen that the mature brain can generate new neurons, although, this research is so new that the functional implications of these new neurons and their potential contribution to learning and memory formation remain to be determined," he said.

The recommendations

The most effective delivery of the best possible care requires identifying and assigning levels of importance to the biological components of learning. Here are 10 key aspects of learning based on decades of research by many scientists that the article's authors believe can be incorporated into effective teaching.

Repetition: Medical curricula often employ compressed coverage over limited time frames of a great amount of material. Learning theory
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Contact: Susan Trulove
strulove@vt.edu
540-231-5646
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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