, Volume 46, Issue 2, pp 191–198 | Cite as

Neuroscience, psychology, and society: Translating research to improve learning

  • Allison MasterEmail author
  • Andrew N. Meltzoff
  • Roberto Lent
Open File


This Introduction highlights the key point of this special issue on brain research, psychology, and learning. The issue discusses concrete ways in which neuroscience and experimental psychology, among other disciplines, can contribute to reducing educational inequities worldwide. The Introduction discusses common themes among the articles in this issue and outlines myriad benefits, as well as some unintended risks, of sharing scientific findings with educators and policymakers in order to induce educational change. The article also offers some novel ideas to help researchers bridge the gap between the science of learning and its implementation in educational settings, emphasizing the value of research-practice partnerships.


Brain Education STEM Learning Public policy Science communication Equity 


  1. Bales, S. N., & Gilliam, F. D. (2009). Lessons from the story of early child development: Domain decisions and framing youth development. New Directions for Youth Development, 2009(124), 119–134. doi: 10.1002/yd.332.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Coburn, C. E., Penuel, W. R., & Geil, K. E. (2013). Research-practice partnerships: A strategy for leveraging research for educational improvement in school districts. New York, NY: William T. Grant Foundation.Google Scholar
  3. Dweck, C. S. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the “growth mindset”. Education Week, 35, 20–24.
  4. Franzoi, S. L. (2007). History of social psychology. In R. F. Baumeister & K. D. Vohs (Eds.), Encyclopedia of social psychology (pp. 431–439). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Howard-Jones, P. A. (2014). Neuroscience and education: Myths and messages. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 15(12), 817–824. doi: 10.1038/nrn3817.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Hsu, E., Murphy, T. J., & Treisman, U. (2008). Supporting high achievement in introductory mathematics courses: What we have learned from 30 years of the Emerging Scholars Program. In M. Carlson & C. Rasmussen (Eds.), Making the connection: Research and practice in undergraduate mathematics education (pp. 205–220). Washington, DC: Mathematical Association of America.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kirschner, P. A., & van Merriënboer, J. J. G. (2013). Do learners really know best? Urban legends in education. Educational Psychologist, 48(3), 169–183. doi: 10.1080/00461520.2013.804395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Lepper, M. R., Greene, D., & Nisbett, R. E. (1973). Undermining children’s intrinsic interest with extrinsic reward: A test of the “overjustification” hypothesis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 28(1), 129–137. doi: 10.1037/h0035519.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Mathews, J. (2010, April 4). Jaime Escalante didn’t just stand and deliver: He changed U.S. schools forever. Washington Post.
  10. Meltzoff, A. N., Kuhl, P. K., Movellan, J., & Sejnowski, T. J. (2009). Foundations for a new science of learning. Science, 325(5938), 284–288. doi: 10.1126/science.1175626.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. National Science Foundation (2017). Science of learning.
  12. OECD (2007). Understanding the brain: The birth of a learning science. Paris: OECD.
  13. Paunesku, D., Walton, G. M., Romero, C., Smith, E. N., Yeager, D. S., & Dweck, C. S. (2015). Mind-set interventions are a scalable treatment for academic underachievement. Psychological Science, 26(6), 784–793. doi: 10.1177/0956797615571017.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Stokes, D. E. (1997). Pasteur’s quadrant: Basic science and technological innovation. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press.Google Scholar
  15. UN [United Nations] (2015). The sustainable development agenda.
  16. Yeager, D. S., Purdie-Vaughns, V., Garcia, J., Apfel, N., Brzustoski, P., Master, A., et al. (2014). Breaking the cycle of mistrust: Wise interventions to provide critical feedback across the racial divide. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 143(2), 804–824. doi: 10.1037/a0033906.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information


Authors and Affiliations

  • Allison Master
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew N. Meltzoff
    • 1
  • Roberto Lent
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute for Learning & Brain SciencesUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Biomedical SciencesFederal University of Rio de JaneiroRio de JaneiroBrazil

Personalised recommendations