Neuroscience is the study of nervous system function. It is a discipline that draws on a number of other fields, including anatomy, biology, chemistry, genetics, pharmacology, and psychology. The phenomena studied by neuroscientists range from processes within a cell, including production and trafficking of proteins within cells, to understanding brain systems that underlie consciousness, with studies of changes in cell shape and function, brain chemicals, and hormones as just a few examples of some of the intermediate areas of study. With regard to education, the brain is the critical substrate that mediates new learning. The brain must be sufficiently flexible to allow new information to be encoded while minimizing previous information that is forgotten. Neuroscience is a critical approach to understanding which situations are likely to maximize new learning. Not surprisingly, with such a complicated subject to study—the nervous system—a number of subdisciplines have developed that offer different approaches within this research area. Important contributions of neuroscience to the study of brain diseases are mentioned in this entry. Some general neuroscience terminology and techniques are described, followed by a section that addresses how neuroscience may be beneficial for improving education.
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