A vital organ with levels of performance unrivalled among other living species, the human brain is a constant source of surprises. Substantial advances have been made in understanding its operation in recent decades. There is, however, much still to discover and explore, if we are to understand how human beings grow, reflect, think, learn, adapt, feel etc., and to advance in the ways of improving brain function (particularly in terms of learning) and repairing dysfunctions of whatever kind. This is why Futuribles has decided to begin 2019 with an issue devoted very largely to the human brain and, more specially, to advances in the cognitive sciences and neurosciences and their contributions to education and learning.
This article by Olivier Houdé lays out the – recent and doubtless still too limited – contributions of research in neurosciences and cognitive sciences to the field of education. Houdé particularly the stresses the importance of brain research, thanks to the observations of its in vivo functioning, for the understanding of children’s learning mechanisms. He puts especial emphasis on the two complementary forms of neurocognitive learning that are automation and control by inhibition (or “de-automation”). He explains how these show up in the brain and the thought systems that activate them. The advances in the understanding of these mechanisms have thus opened up new pathways in educational sciences.