Educational Psychology Review

, Volume 21, Issue 1, pp 21–30 | Cite as

The Mirror Neuron System and Observational Learning: Implications for the Effectiveness of Dynamic Visualizations

  • Tamara van GogEmail author
  • Fred Paas
  • Nadine Marcus
  • Paul Ayres
  • John Sweller
Review Article


Learning by observing and imitating others has long been recognized as constituting a powerful learning strategy for humans. Recent findings from neuroscience research, more specifically on the mirror neuron system, begin to provide insight into the neural bases of learning by observation and imitation. These findings are discussed here, along with their potential consequences for the design of instruction, focusing in particular on the effectiveness of dynamic vs. static visualizations.


Mirror neuron system Observational learning Cognitive load 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tamara van Gog
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Fred Paas
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  • Nadine Marcus
    • 4
  • Paul Ayres
    • 5
  • John Sweller
    • 5
  1. 1.Centre for Learning Sciences and Technologies (CELSTEC)Open University of The NetherlandsHeerlenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Netherlands Laboratory of Lifelong Learning (NeLLL)Open University of The NetherlandsHeerlenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of PsychologyErasmus University RotterdamRotterdamThe Netherlands
  4. 4.School of Computer Science and EngineeringUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.School of EducationUniversity of New South WalesSydneyAustralia

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