Brain activations associated with scientific reasoning: a literature review

  • Lucian Nenciovici
  • Geneviève Allaire-Duquette
  • Steve MassonEmail author


Scientifically literate individuals are defined as individuals who are able to apply scientific knowledge and use scientific reasoning skills to solve problems. In recent years, cognitive neuroscience has turned its attention to understanding the brain activation patterns associated with scientific reasoning skills, but this work has not been systematically reviewed for more than a decade. The present study reviews neuroimaging studies related to three types of scientific reasoning tasks: overcoming misconceptions, causal reasoning, and hypothesis generation. These studies indicate converging evidence for the involvement of (1) lateral prefrontal areas, reinforcing the idea of an association between scientific reasoning and executive functions, and (2) middle temporal areas, suggesting an association between scientific reasoning and declarative memory. Potential educational implications and leads for future research are discussed.


Scientific reasoning Neuroimaging Overcoming misconceptions Causal reasoning Hypothesis generation 


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Copyright information

© Marta Olivetti Belardinelli and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Research in Neuroeducation, Département de didactiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada
  2. 2.Team for Research in Science and Technology Education, Département de didactiqueUniversité du Québec à MontréalMontrealCanada

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