Comet Calendar Event Details

Neuromodulation- and Real-World STEM Spatial Education-Based Improvements in Relational Reasoning - Frontiers of BrainHealth Lecture
Friday, Apr. 26
noon - 1 p.m. Location: International Reception Hall, Center for BrainHealth

The Center for BrainHealth invites scientists to share their scientific study with students and other researchers at the BrainHealth Frontiers Lunch Lectures. The lectures are heavily science focused and are not intended for a lay audience. This lecture will be held at the Brain Performance Institute - The Ellipse, 2200 West Mockingbird Lane.

Friday, 4/26/2019 at noon

Adam Green, PhD
Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience
Georgetown University

Topic is Neuromodulation- and Real-World STEM Spatial Education-Based Improvements in Relational Reasoning

Improving reasoning ability is a high-value goal in both educational contexts and in many areas of science and industry where, in particular, creative analogical reasoning is frequently the basis of innovation. In two separate lines of work, we have taken brain-based and real-world education-based approaches to improving two forms of relational reasoning. In a series of studies employing fMRI and transcranial direct current stimulation, we have identified dynamic activity in frontopolar cortex as a likely neural mechanism underlying endogenous augmentation of creative state (i.e., deliberately thinking more creatively) during analogical reasoning. Using fMRI data to guide exogenous electrical stimulation, we found that anodal frontopolar stimulation was associated with heightened ability to form creative analogies across greater semantic distance (i.e., connecting ideas that seem unrelated on the surface). In a second line of work, we conducted a longitudinal study of the effects of a spatially-focused STEM curriculum in real-world high school classrooms. A quasi-experimental design compared students enrolled in the spatially-focused course with selected control students taking other science courses. Behavioral results indicate that that the spatially-focused curriculum lead to increased spatial habits of mind (near transfer), improved visuo-spatial figure identification (intermediate transfer), and improved deductive relational reasoning (far transfer). Convergently, the spatially-focused curriculum was associated with greater increase in recruitment of posterior parietal “spatial” regions during reasoning, and this activity predicted reasoning performance. Students in the spatially-focused curriculum also showed increased connectivity of “spatial” regions to prefrontal regions associated with reasoning. These and other neural data indicate a “spatial” shift in both performance and underlying neural strategy for reasoning. These results were observed despite the use of verbal (rather than visuo-spatial) reasoning stimuli, even when verbal stimuli contained non-spatial relations (e.g., “happier”). Implications for spatially-based accounts of relational reasoning, and for adoption of spatially-focused STEM education are discussed. 

Lunch Available at 11:45am lecture from 12:00 to 1:00 pm
Registration is free, but is required - Register for this event

See The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences for more events

Contact Info:
Center for BrainHealth, 972-883-3007

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