Neuroscience and the Classroom: A Glossary by Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

A featured set of terms from the online course "Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections." Illustrated by Natalie Andrewson.

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang, is an associate professor of education, psychology and neuroscience at the Rossier School of Education and Brain and Creativity Institute, University of Southern California. Together with her colleagues Kurt Fischer (Harvard University Graduate School of Education) and Matthew H. Schneps (Smithsonian Institution), and with support from the Annenberg Foundation, she created an interactive online course. The course, "Neuroscience & the Classroom: Making Connections," is designed for educators and researchers of all levels, to help them overcome challenges in the classroom and thoughtfully consider the field of neuroscience as it applies to education. The terms below, elegantly illustrated by Natalie Andrewson, are a sample of the course's very thorough glossary.


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

ADHD

A diagnostic category describing a developmental disability that primarily impacts attention capacities with secondary difficulties most often observed in behavior and learning environments. Clinicians rely on criteria for reaching a diagnosis of ADHD using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), most typically.

Broca’s area

Broca

The region of the brain functionally associated with spoken language production discovered by Paul Broca in the late 19th century. Disorders arising from damage to the left inferior frontal cortex, as classically defined, most typically involve difficulty in using language (i.e., expressive) with the preserved ability to understand (i.e., receptive) language.

John Dewey

John Dewey

Prominent figure in education, psychology, and philosophy in the 20th century with prominent achievements in advancing child-centered and progressive education, highlighting the interconnectedness of society and education, and advocating pragmatism, among many other contributions.

Dyslexia

Dyslexia

A term describing a learning disability that is defined by difficulty with single word reading, often impacting negatively text comprehension. Other secondary associations include difficulties with processing sounds of language accurately or automatically and socioemotional challenges.

fMRI

fMRI

A neuroimaging technique using radio and magnetic waves to indirectly index brain activity relative to specific task comparisons.

Neural networks

Neural networks

A term describing a conceptualization of how brain systems operate, which can refer to either biological systems of neurons or computational models of how biological systems operate.

Prosody

Prosody

Prosody refers to features of language —including tone, stress, and pitch—which is used to communicate emotion, express sarcasm, denote types of utterances (question versus statement).

Scaffold

Scaffold

A term describing support offered by a learning partner (mentor, teacher, more experienced peer, or parent), which structures the context and environment in a way that facilitates learning for the student.

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky was a developmental psychologist whose work in the early 1900s influenced fields including child development, psychology, and education. Among many contributions, Vygotsky's work gave social contexts within which learning takes place center stage. Major implications have extended to understanding the role for a particular learner of scaffolding and support, as well as the existence of a range of performance levels.

Wernicke’s area

Wernicke's area

A region of the brain functionally associated with spoken language comprehension discovered by Carl Wernicke in the late 19th century. Disorders arising from damage to left posterior temporal gyrus, as classically defined, most typically involve difficulty in language comprehension (i.e., receptive) and meaningful use of language with preserved ability in other language features such as form and rate (i.e., expressive).

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