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Traveling Along the Number Line

By John Published: May 5, 2011

Here's a podcast uploaded today of Stanislas Dehaene speaking at Harvard about the bridges that are being formed between neuroscience and education. The bridge is possible because our primate brain is constrained by its architecture, but plastic enough to change itself with cultural inventions such as reading and precise mathematical computations. Dehaene points out if the brain were a blank slate, unconstrained, then any kind of education would work as well as any other.

He specifically mentions the Mind, Brain and Education journal, the peer-reviewed publication of the International Mind Brain and Education Society. Note: These podcasts are from the launch of the IMBES Journal in 2006.

Dehaene, a French cognitive neuroscientist, is among the leading researchers in the new academic discipline of Mind, Brain and Education science. He's the author of The Number Sense and Reading in the Brain, both fascinating books.

His basic theory is something called neuronal recycling --the idea that the brain can repurpose circuitry that evolved for one task to peform new tasks. Reading is the most obvious example. Written language is only about 5,000 years old, so our brain clearly didn't evolve to read. Yet when children are about ages 6 or 7, they learn to read, which physically rewires their brain to connect written words with the sounds of the spoken words, which conjurs up all the associations and memories of that word.

Update: Here's a link to Howard Gardner's podcast. Gardner is best known for his theory on multiple intelligences, which has generated some controversy over the years.

Another update: Here's a link to Maryanne Wolf's podcast on dsylexia. Wolf is an expert in dsylexia and author of Proust and the Squid.

Another update: Here's a link to Kurt Fischer's podcast. Fischer heads the Mind, Brain and Education program at Harvard's Graduate School of Education.  He is one of the founders and leading lights of the International MBE movement.

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