Brain Development, Early Childhood, and Brain-Based Education: A Critical Analysis

  • Valeri Farmer-DouganEmail author
  • Larry A. Alferink
Part of the Educating the Young Child book series (EDYC, volume 7)


This chapter compares recent educational curricula that purport to utilize research findings from neuroscience to promote improved learning and retention with the actual neuroscience findings. The authors note that much of the reasoning behind these new curricula is based on misinterpretation or oversimplification of neuroscience findings and/or are just not supported by the actual data. Examples include left-brain/right-brain curricula, learning styles curricula, and the emphasis on early childhood while ignoring the important changes in the brain that occur throughout childhood and into adulthood. Importantly, the chapter demonstrates that neuroscience does have much to say about the developing brain and how it learns. Indeed, recent neuroscience research demonstrates the complexity of the dance between the learning environment and brain development as a child learns. However, the authors point out the dangers of oversimplification of these complex findings and inappropriate extensions of the results into ineffective, inappropriate, and even potentially damaging curricula in our schools. The implications of poor implementation and resulting deleterious results for both education and neuroscience are discussed, as are ways to better foster an understanding of neuroscience research and its potential for application to educational curricula.


Down Syndrome Learning Style Educational Practice Enrich Environment Neural Development 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesIllinois State UniversityNormalUSA

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