Brain research and learning

Ethics, citizenship and brain development are intertwined.
In Digital Community, Digital Citizen, I create a hypothetical "perfect school board" whose members want to pursue teaching digital citizenship in their school district in a serious and informed manner. As part of their education, they look into brain research as it relates to teenage behavior and the 'neurology of ethical behavior.' Many of the links I provide below link to free resources found on YouTube.

Invitation to readers: please add your resources to this page. Please add any resources here related to brain research and behavior. While my resources focus on the teen years, feel free to add resources related to any age. Also, feel free to add links to any of the pages you see in the navigation column at the left. When in doubt about where to add something, please add it to the "Other" category and I will sort it out later.

To contribute to this wiki you will need an invitation from me. Although anyone can view this wiki, if you want to add to it I need to invite you to join as a collaborator. Just email me (jasonohler@gmail.com) and I will make it so. Thank you for your contributions.



Video resources about kids, brain development and behavior
  • The Teenage Brain – In 3 Parts (2008). From YouTube: Frances E. Jensen, MD, Senior Assistant in Neurology at Children's Hospital Boston and a professor at Harvard Medical School, tran the most up-to-date research on the teen brain, which she shares with parents, teachers and teens during her presentation, "Teen Brain 101."
  • Adolescent Brains (2008). From YouTube: "Silvia Bunge, Assistant Professor of Psychology, tells about her research team's work, showing that adolescent minds haven't yet developed the same reasoning abilities as adults, and her hopes that this research can improve education methods, as well as the legal system."
  • Frontline: Inside the Teen Age Brain (2002). From YouTube: "In "Inside the Teenage Brain," FRONTLINE chronicles how scientists are exploring the recesses of the brain and finding some new explanations for why adolescents behave the way they do. These discoveries could change the way we parent, teach, or perhaps even understand our teenagers."
  • Growing Up: The Teenage Brain (2009). From Youtube: "Dr. Greg Berns talks about a new study using brain imaging to study teen behavior. It turns out that adolescents who engage in dangerous activities have frontal white matter tracts that are more adult in form than their more conservative peers. My note: The suggestion here is that this contradicts current theory that teens do not engage their more rational functions when considering risk."
  • EQ and the Emotional Curriculum (Films for the Humanities & Sciences, www.films.com, 2004). This comes in DVD form only and can be purchased from Films for the Humanities & Sciences. It is an engaging overview about how brain research can help students use EQ, Daniel Goleman’s term for emotional intelligence. This video shows how EQ is actually being employed in school curricula to help improve intelligence related to self-understanding and interpersonal communication.


Other resources
  • Adolescent Brain, by Silvia Bunge, on Science Today (11/17/2008). From the website: "Silvia Bunge, assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, wants to use what she knows about the teenage brain to help society deal with young risk takers. She is part of the new Law and Neuroscience Project, a MacArthur Foundation group of lawyers and neurobiologists working to incorporate neurology data into the legal system. Bunge feels that current legal attitudes towards teen criminals need revamping."
  • Brain from Top to Bottom. An excellent website maintained by McGill University that explains how the brain works, as well as a number of other topics related to brain development, such as moral development, emotions and the brain and how consciousness developments.
  • Neuroscientists Pinpoint Habit Circuits in the Brain, by McGovern Institute for Brain Research (Newswise, 6/2/2010). From the article: "Driving to and from work is a habit for most commuters – we do it without really thinking. But before our commutes became routine, we had to learn our way through trial-and-error exploration. A new study out of MIT has found that there are two brain circuits involved with this kind of learning and that the patterns of activity in these circuits evolve as our behaviors become more habitual."
  • Risky Behavior in Adolescents May Signal Mature Brain (Woodruff Health Sciences, 8/26/2009). From the website: "In order to better understand the relationship between high risk-taking and the brain's development, Emory University and Emory School of Medicine neuroscientists used a form of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) called diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) to measure structural changes in white matter in the brain. The study's findings are published in the Aug. 26, 2009 PLoS ONE.  "In the past, studies have focused on the pattern of gray matter density from childhood to early adulthood, says Gregory Berns, MD, PhD, principal investigator and professor of Psychiatry and Neuroeconomics at Emory University and director of the Center for Neuropolicy. "With new technology, we were able to develop the first study looking at how development of white matter relates to activities in the real world."
  • Teen Brain, by PBS.org, 10/13/2004. From the website: "New research on physical and developmental differences between the brains of adolescents and adults may explain why some teenagers behave erratically. The findings could have a major impact on U.S. court cases, especially those that deal with minors and the death penalty."
  • Teen Brain: It's Just Not Grown Up Yet, by Richard Knox (3/1/2010). From the article: "Jensen is a Harvard expert on epilepsy, not adolescent brain development. As she coped with her boys' sour moods and their exasperating assumption that somebody else will pick up their dirty clothes, she decided to investigate what neuroscientists are discovering about teenagers' brains that makes them behave that way...She learned that that it's not so much what teens are thinking — it's how."


Readers' Brain Research Resources

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