Bridging Neuroscience and Education.

Baker, D. P., Salinas, D., & Eslinger, P. J. (2012). An envisioned bridge: Schooling as a neurocognitive developmental institution. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 2(S1), S6-S17.


Baker et. al. (2012) synthesized literature from two groups in the social science discipline and proposed that the integration of such research provides more valid contexts for bridging education and neuroscience discourse.

The two groups of research or discourse include the social construction of cognition through science and education, and evaluative neuroscience findings on causal neurological hypotheses between neurocognitive development and schooling.

The authors make the argument that formal education should be considered a neurocognitive-developmental institution (environment) through their discussions that demonstrate:

  1. Schooling impacts neurological and cognitive development
  2. Increase in mass education across societies increase the social significance of education attainment and exposes humans to periods of more uniform environments (schools) and thus humans have more similar social values of the role of education (isomorphism).
  3. Mass schooling should result in cognitive improvements on the population level ( i.e., the Flynn effect (Trahan et. al., 2014) and also impact outcomes in other social environments such as the mass education-population health hypothesis by Baker et al., (2011) and changes in job content over time.

In the next section of their paper, the authors highlighted three strains of neuroscience findings to illustrate how formal schooling additionally impacts naturally occurring human cognitive development over time:

  1. Neural plasticity
  2. schooling impacts on literate and illiterate population
  3. Educational impact on learning in typically developing children and adolescents

Baker et.. al (2012) made the case that their discussions above demonstrated “a profound symbiotic relation across the individual, institutional, and societal levels that influences and shapes neurocognitive development.” (p.15). They conclude that this relationship provides the basis and opens the possibility to bridge brain-mind-education through the lens of education as a social, historical, and cultural environment that interacts with the cognitive (brain and minds) environment.

I would like to go a step further to propose that school and education serve the function of human development from a broader level of analysis, and therefore requires collaboration with all stakeholders such as researchers, parents, policymakers, businesses, employers, and students themselves. It is only when common grounds and goals between all stakeholders are found through the considerations of the whole system that the brain-mind-education partnership can truly take off to produce meaningful outcomes.


Baker, D. P., Leon, J., Smith Greenaway, E. G., Collins, J., & Movit, M. (2011). The education effect on population health: a reassessment. Population and development review37(2), 307–332.

Trahan, L. H., Stuebing, K. K., Fletcher, J. M., & Hiscock, M. (2014). The Flynn effect: a meta-analysis. Psychological bulletin140(5), 1332–1360.

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