When I Met My Brain
By Katie Brohawn, Director of Research for ExpandED Schools
This blog is part of the ExpandED Schools NeuroConnections series, where we explore the bridge between neuroscience and education.
I’ve seen my husband’s brain. I’ve seen the brains of most of the women who were bridesmaids in my wedding. In fact, if you were a (right-handed*) friend of mine in the mid 2000s, chances are I’ve seen your brain, too (or at last asked to see it). Such is the life of a psychology doctoral student trying to recruit subjects for her first neuroimaging pilot study. New research in Trends in Neuroscience and Education supports the notion that I wasn’t the only one who benefited from their participation…
A new study entitled When I Met My Brain: Participating in a neuroimaging study influences children’s naïve mind-brain conceptions supports a new activity for promoting growth mindset. Growth mindset is the understanding that intelligence can be developed — that your brain is a muscle. In fact, the pioneers in the field of Growth Mindset have even developed a program known as Brainology that helps develop a growth mindset by teaching students how this muscle works. However, researchers in France took this concept a step further to determine whether actually participating in a neuroimaging study and seeing their own brain had an impact on elementary school-aged children’s mind-brain conceptions.
Columbia University’s MRI Study for Healthy Children and Adolescents and Promise Reading Study or studies in their Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development (NEED) Lab; The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; NYU’s Child Study CenterFor those with students who may be interested in these types of studies, research labs all around New York City are constantly looking for participants. Below are just some examples, but please feel free to reach out to us any time for the most recent opportunities or for opportunities in locations outside New York:
A group of 74 elementary school students participated in the study. Half of the students underwent an MRI protocol after which they were shown the images of their brain, given a brief explanation of the anatomy of the images of their brain and were able to ask any questions they had. All of the students (both those who underwent the MRI and those who did not) then completed a questionnaire designed to assess their conceptions of the mind-brain connection. As hypothesized, results found that children who participated in the MRI had a better understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain than those who did not. These findings support the idea that actually participating in neuroimaging studies in addition to simply learning about how the brain works can help them develop a more concrete concept about cognitive neuroscience, thus potentially facilitating their growth mindset.
Columbia University’s MRI Study for Healthy Children and Adolescents and Promise Reading Study or studies in their Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development (NEED) Lab; The Sackler Institute for Developmental Psychobiology; NYU’s Child Study Center
*Neuroimaging studies often exclude left-handed people (like myself) in order to reduce variance in the data, as there may be differences in the way the brain processes information based on handedness and the large majority (90%) of the population is right handed.