npj Science of Learning Community: Digest #5

Monoar Rahman Rony, Unsplash
Monoar Rahman Rony, Unsplash

The npj Science of Learning Community presents research focussing on the mind, brain and education space. This month, our authors show how creativity can illuminate the workings of the human brain; teachers share the results of an intervention encouraging students to voice their imaginations; and child psychologists discuss how cultural learning predicts infant altruistic behaviour.

Laura Morcom was asked what inspired her to create ‘Under the mistletoe’, a Christmas- themed image which won the 2019 QBI Art in Neuroscience Award. Her entry was based on the activity of glial cells in the developing human brain. These cells attach to the interhemispheric fissure and break this membrane down to make way for neural tissue to form something like a bridge between the cerebral hemispheres. Without this vital connection, the corpus callosum does not develop, causing disorders in the brain. Laura Morcom describes the creative inspiration behind her winning image in an interview: Building a bridge: how the two hemispheres of the brain connect during development.

One of the greatest challenges to a student can be creative expression. As part of the Schools Partnership Program in 2017 and 2018, teachers at Genazzano FCJ College in Melbourne, Australia, wanted their students to take a few risks with their writing and find their distinctive ‘voice’. To modify the student’s behaviour, the teachers engaged an expert consultant to guide the translation of theory into practice. Anna Moore, Anita Wilson and Lisa Kapa describe the results of the teaching intervention in a three-part series: Developing deeper thinkers and creative writers in primary students

Altruistic behaviour is an intrinsic part of human nature – but how is sharing learnt? Child psychologists Rodolfo Barragan, Rechele Brooks and Andrew Meltzoff observed whether 19-month-old infants would give away fruit to a stranger, even when they felt hungry. The researchers discuss how their findings add another piece to the puzzle of infant altruism and why the development of socio-cognitive understanding in humans might stem from cultural experience during this two-part series: Social experience predicts infant altruism and points to a science of cultural learning

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