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This is the eighth episode in a series recorded in London! In June 2018 we attended the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction conference (or, more simply, EARLI) for the special interest group on Neuroscience and Education (@EarliSIG22). While there, we recorded live interviews with teachers and researchers.
In this episode, we speak with Dr. Miriam Reiner, head of The Virtual Reality and Neurocognition lab at Technion (Israel Institute of Technology). Miriam uses emerging technologies for high-validity research in neuroeducation: specifically, she examines how integration of virtual/augmented reality and EEG/eyetracking etc can provide a highly valid methodology for research in neuroeducation. In addition, Miriam studies technologies that activate brain mechanisms, such as neurofeedback, for enhanced memory consolidation, insight-problem solving, and spatial intelligence.
Miriam’s research involves putting participants in a very rich virtual world where they can interact with their environment. Examples of situations might be a surgeon in the operating room who must burn specific areas in the abdomen, or someone trying to catch a falling pendulum - a task that can reveal common misconceptions about physics. While in this immersive experience, participants are connected to EEG, so that events in the world and in the brain can be correlated. This helps her to determine what brain activation relates to best performance (in terms of speed and accuracy) in problem-solving situations.
Miriam believes that schools will evolve to mainly be places for social learning, whereas technology will replace some of the more traditional learning environments. In another line of research, Miriam investigates whether neurofeedback can be used to enable the typical learner to control their own brainwaves, and how this relates to the consolidation process that happens while we sleep (1) (see also this episode on sleep and learning). In the episode, Miriam discusses how these techniques might be used in education.
(1) Reiner, M., Rozengurt, R., & Barnea, A. (2014). Better than sleep: Theta neurofeedback training accelerates memory consolidation. Biological Psychology, 95, 45-53.