Neuroeducation: Neuroscience in the Classroom to Create More Inclusive and Efficient Educational Environment

What is neuroeducation? This discipline aims to maximize students’ potential so everyone can learn better. Neuroeducation merges pedagogical strategies with what we know about how the brain works during teaching and learning.

It seeks the scientific basis behind practices carried out for many years by intuition. It seeks scientific justification for methods that have been applied for many years based on instinct. This topic has also begun to be hotly discussed in academia over the past few years, and dissertation writing services receive many orders for papers on neuroeducation.

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Among other questions, neuroeducation asks what elements can optimize students’ learning, keep their attention and make teaching a pleasurable experience they want to repeat.

It is a question of quality rather than quantity. There is little point in accumulating knowledge if it is easily forgotten, if we do not know how to apply it, or if it does not arouse the slightest interest.

Factors such as confidence, emotions, motivation, interest, and surprise are essential to design an educational environment that manages to optimize the academic performance of all students. They all provoke responses in our brains, allowing us to get the most out of the educational process.

Bringing together these two worlds (neuroscience and education) which seemed to be invisible worlds until a dozen years ago but which depend on each other, is the primary goal of neuroeducation. We learn with the brain, and the brain allows us to continue learning simultaneously as it is influenced by everything we know. 

The emotional aspect of learning

Why do certain things we learn to stick with us and not others? Why do some people love learning and others find it boring?

Normally, we learn anything that has emotional components more efficiently than if there are no emotional components. And that has a straightforward reason: emotions are automated response behavior patterns triggered by a situation requiring urgency. Any reflexive response is always slower than an emotional response. Emotions allow us to respond quickly when there is an urgency, which is why they are so crucial for survival. Without feelings, we would not survive: for example, without fear of hiding or running away from a threat. Without joy, we would not be able to relate to other people.

Emotions are so important that the brain interprets any learning with feelings associated with it as necessary. In other words, emotions allow us to gain in learning efficiency.

But not all emotions are the same. For example, fear, a basic emotion, has been used. But it is counterproductive. If every time you have to learn something, your brain connects the neural networks associated with fear, and you will not want to learn new things.

That’s why some people don’t want to continue to progress intellectually. Because there was fear in their learning. What is the alternative? The alternative is strategies based more on joy.

Joy is understood as an emotion that transmits confidence. The key is an education based on trust, surprise, stimulus, and an attainable challenge. It does not only consolidate learning but also transmits the desire to continue learning throughout life because we trust because we feel satisfied with the challenges we are setting ourselves.

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Neuroeducation for every person

We are all different, and in a classroom with 20 or 30 students, you always find brilliant students and people who find it much more difficult. Because each brain is different, there is a genetic component in these differences. We have almost 8,000 genes that function within our brain and are conditioning all aspects of our behavior and learning. Some people are more genetically predisposed to memory, creativity, attention, motivation, any element we can imagine than others.

What we have to do is to accept that differences exist and see what the best way to manage them is.

The important thing is, knowing that in a classroom, there are differences (between people, genetics, even in terms of previous learning), that each student can find satisfaction and reward in continuing to progress, in continuing to learn new things. How is this achieved? That it is achieved by proposing to the student’s challenges that can be addressed from the different levels of each student. Challenges can be tackled knowing that the students feel confident they are demanding but achievable difficulties.

The moment learners see that a challenge is not attainable, they disengage. Similarly, they are not sufficiently motivated and clear if it is too easy.

Teamwork as an educational strategy in diversity

One of the ways to integrate all these different diversities in a classroom is through collaborative work. A challenge is proposed for all students, grouped in teams. And it is taught in such a way that each student has to contribute something of his or her own exclusively to overcome the challenge. In this scenario, the student who is brilliant is given a more difficult challenge to make it more stimulating. And for the student who is a little more complicated, a challenge is proposed that is a little easier so that he/she also sees it as attainable but an indispensable challenge for the team.

The goal is for everyone to have stimulating and achievable challenges and feel indispensable to the rest of their teammates.

So that the students do not think that different challenges are unfair, the teacher must value what each one is contributing and know how to manage teamwork well. That is, to make each one see that he or she is indispensable for the final result and that what is asked of him or her is in line with his or her capabilities.

Studies have been conducted to evaluate how collaborative work strategies work in education and how they change the results.

For example, there are studies done with functional magnetic resonance imaging. It is a system that allows us to monitor how the brain is being activated. Live and direct. And what is seen is that any learning that has social components, that is done with other people, activates many more areas of the brain, and the more areas of the brain that are activated, the more efficiently the learning takes place.

This occurs in two directions: when a student is supported by his peers, his learning is better fixed. And when a student helps his peers, he also improves his knowledge.

This is what collaborative learning allows: to see yourself supported when something doesn’t go well and to support others when you see that something doesn’t go well, because everyone is needed to overcome the challenge.

The need for effort to learn

Learning must involve effort. The problem arises when the effort put in by students is not rewarded by the environment.

Rewarded not in the sense of prizes but using a look of approval and trust from teachers and parents.

When we think the student could have done better, the effort should be redirected from approval and empathy, involving the teacher in the solution.

If the effort is not rewarded, if there is no emotional gratification, the student will abandon the task.

Neuroeducation to help us face the future

How can neuroeducation help us to face the feeling of constant change, the uncertainty of the future?

The main help is understanding how our brain functions in the face of uncertainty, cange, and novelty.

There are two radically opposite ways of responding: fear and curiosity.

No one is anchored in one of these two extremes. We are all somewhere in between. These two extremes are discussed below:

Fear of the future:

When faced with change, novelty, and uncertainty, there are people who tend to respond with fear. Fear is a basic emotion, essential when there is a real threat. The problem is to react with fear in the face of any change. These people could be more transforming or proactive because if you are proactive, you generate the novelties. In the end, people have less learning capacity and less quality of life because fear is uncomfortable.

Curiosity about the future:

What is the other extreme? There is another type of person who tends to respond with curiosity. Curiosity is a mixture of reflection and some emotions, such as joy, understood as confidence.

To be curious, we must be surprised by novelties. People with curiosity are more transformative people, to begin with. They are not afraid of changes and wonders. They examine them. They are more proactive people, capable of generating novelties because curiosity also causes well-being sensations when one discovers it. Sometimes it is difficult for you not to continue developing wonders constantly—people with a greater learning capacity. People have more quality of life because they feel more at ease with themselves and their environment.

All this creates a correlation within our brain and involves activating these emotional areas linked to curiosity, surprise, and joy instead of fear: with the reflection generated in a different area of the brain, and that must be cultivated from early childhood.


Therefore, understanding how these processes work from neuroscience helps us design educational strategies that allow us to become more curious, more empowered, more confident in ourselves and our environment, and more collaborative people. Because to trust your environment, you must trust and allow others to charge you. And all this is shaping neural networks. Many are already identified, others still need to be. But a lot of progress is being made.

For example, it makes it possible to design many more competency-based studies.

Competence” does not mean learning things by heart. Of course, you have to learn things by heart. Memory is as important now as it was 100 years ago, although part of the memory has been outsourced to digital technology.

You have to learn things but apply them to new situations. To be able to create new knowledge from what you have learned before. All this is linked to that part more of curiosity, more of personal empowerment.

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