Educational Neuroscience


Bridging the fields of Neuroscience and education

Principal Metaphors

  • Knowledge is … scope of possible actions and interpretations
  • Knowing is … higher-order functions, located mainly in the brain
  • Learner is … a cognizing system
  • Learning is … systemic changes, located mainly in the brain
  • Teaching is … triggering learning




Neuroeducation weaves among Neuroscience, psychology, educational technology, and other relevant disciplines in studies of the interactions of biological processes and educational efforts. Its broad aim is to generate a research base that will inform and orient teaching in a comprehensive and coherent way (in contrast to piecemeal offerings of Brain-Based Learning and other popular, quasi-scientific offerings). To date, however, contributions have been modest and narrowly focused – for example, with neural mechanisms associated with reading, numeration, and attention, along with associated learning difficulties/disabilities.


Critiques of Neuroeducation are many and varied. A common concern revolves around the conceptual gulf between Neuroscience’s focus on the brain and its medical model of cognition and education’s need to distribute its attentions across psychological, epistemological, social, cultural, and ecological obligations. Echoing a problem encountered by Behaviorisms nearly a century ago, teaching methods based on Neuroscience require artificial and controlled settings that are utterly unlike typical classrooms. Further, in our review of the Neuroeducation literature, we were surprised at the unsophisticated vocabulary around learning (typically invoking the Acquisition Metaphor and/or the “inputting information” metaphor of Brain-as-Computer Discourses) and teaching (most commonly interpreted in terms of affecting behaviors). This lack of sophistication may help to explain why so many of Neuroeducation’s claimed contributions are little more than validations of certain Developmental Discourses and Non-Trivial Constructivisms. That said, Neuroeducation has helped to undermine persistent neuromyths (e.g., left/right brain; inborn intelligences) and to provide more precise diagnoses and nuanced recommendations for specific educational needs.

Authors and/or Prominent Influences


Status as a Theory of Learning

Neuroeducation is not a theory of learning. Indeed, if and when descriptive references are made to learning, they tend to invoke vocabularies and metaphors associated with Mentalisms.

Status as a Theory of Teaching

Neuroeducation is perhaps best classified as a theory of teaching, as an explicit aim is to frame insights from Neuroscience in manners that are useful to and usable by teachers.

Status as a Scientific Theory

Neuroeducation meets the criteria of a scientific theory, although it could be faulted for its unsophisticated characterizations of learning, teaching, and schooling.

Map Location

Please cite this article as:
Davis, B., & Francis, K. (2021). “Neuroeducation” in Discourses on Learning in Education.

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