Neural correlates associated with novices correcting errors in electricity and mechanics

Nenciovici, L., Brault Foisy, L.-M., Allaire-Duquette, G., Potvin, P., Riopel, M., & Masson, S. (2018). Neural Correlates Associated With Novices Correcting Errors in Electricity and Mechanics. Mind, Brain, and Education, 12(3), 120-139. doi:10.1111/mbe.12183

Abstract: Learning counterintuitive scientific concepts can be difficult for students because they often have misconceptions about natural phenomena that lead them to commit errors. Recent studies showed that students with advanced scientific training recruit brain regions associ- ated with inhibitory control and memory retrieval to avoid committing errors for questions related to counterintuitive scientific concepts. However, the brain mechanisms used by novices in sciences to overcome errors are still unknown. In this study, novices in electricity and mechanics answered a scientific task in an functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner before and after having corrected their errors. Results show that rostrofrontal and parietal brain areas were more activated after correcting errors than before. These findings suggest that error-correction mech- anisms of novices, induced by presenting to learners the correct answers at the very beginning of their learning pro- cess, are associated with memory retrieval but not inhibitory control.

Effects of teaching the concept of neuroplasticity to induce a growth mindset on motivation, achievement, and brain activity: A meta-analysis

Sarrasin, J. B., Nenciovici, L., Foisy, L.-M. B., Allaire-Duquette, G., Riopel, M., & Masson, S. (2018). Effects of teaching the concept of neuroplasticity to induce a growth mindset on motivation, achievement, and brain activity: A meta-analysis. Trends in Neuroscience and Education, 12, 22-31. doi:10.1016/j.tine.2018.07.003

Context: Inducing a growth mindset in students has been shown to impact positively on motivation, academic achievement, and brain activity. However, some studies have yielded different results and authors rarely provide reasons to explain this inconsistency.
Purpose: The primary objective of this article was to better understand the conflicting evidence by synthesizing the studies on the subject.
Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis of 10 peer-reviewed studies teaching neuroplasticity to induce a growth mindset in participants from age 7 to adulthood.
Results: Results show that inducing a growth mindset by teaching neuroplasticity has an overall positive effect on motivation, achievement, and brain activity. The results also reveal that this intervention seems more beneficial for at-risk students, especially regarding mathematics achievement (= 0.78).
Conclusion: These findings thus suggest that inconsistent evidence across empirical studies could be explained by students’ characteristics and subject area.

Is inhibitory control involved in discriminating pseudowords that contain the reversible letters b and d?

Brault Foisy, L.-M., Ahr, E., Masson, S., Houdé, O., & Borst, G. (2017). Is inhibitory control involved in discriminating pseudowords that contain the reversible letters b and d? Journal of experimental child psychology, 162, 259-267. doi:10.1016/j.jecp.2017.05.011

ABSTRACT: Children tend to confuse reversible letters such as b and d when they start learning to read. According to some authors, mirror errors are a consequence of the mirror generalization (MG) process that allows one to recognize objects independently of their left– right orientation. Although MG is advantageous for the visual recognition of objects, it is detrimental for the visual recognition of reversible letters. Previous studies comparing novice and expert readers demonstrated that MG must be inhibited to discriminate reversible single letters. In this study, we investigated whether MG must also be inhibited by novice readers to discriminate between two pseudowords containing reversible letters. Readable pseudowords, rather than words, were used to mimic early non-automatic stages of reading when reading is achieved by decoding words through grapheme–phoneme pairing and combination. We designed a negative priming paradigm in which school-aged children (10-year-olds) were asked to judge whether two pseudowords were identical on the prime and whether two animals were identical on the probe. Children required more time to determine that two animals were mirror images of each other when preceded by pseudowords containing the reversible letter b or d than when preceded by different pseudowords containing the control letter f or t (Experiment 1) or by different pseudowords that differed only by the target letter f or k (Experiment 2). These results suggest that MG must be inhibited to discriminate between pseudowords containing reversible letters, generalizing the findings regarding single letters to a context more representative of the early stages of reading.

Blocking our brain: How we can avoid repetitive mistakes!

Brault Foisy, L.-M., Ahr, E., Masson, S., Borst, G., & Houdé, O. (2015). Blocking our brain: How we can avoid repetitive mistakes! Frontiers for Young Minds, 3(17), 1-9. doi:10.3389/frym.2015.00017

ABSTRACT. Persistent mistakes at schools are dif cult for teachers, parents, and most of all the children to deal with. Children who keep making the same mistakes tend to be viewed as bad students, but here we propose a different point of view! We think that children often make mistakes not because they do not know the correct answer, but because they fail to block a quicker but wrong answer that seems to make sense. Studies of the brain actually revealed that children, as well as adults, use an area of the brain called the prefrontal cortex to inhibit persistent mistakes. Learning to inhibit these mistakes is thus a promising way to help children overcome dif culties at school as well as to help us think more logically as we face problems in everyday life.

Comprendre le cerveau des élèves pour mieux les préparer aux apprentissages en arithmétique dès le préscolaire

Deshaies, I., Miron, J.-M., & Masson, S. (2015). Comprendre le cerveau des élèves pour mieux les préparer aux apprentissages en arithmétique dès le préscolaire. Approche neuropsychologique des apprentissages chez l'enfant, 134, 39-45. url: labneuroeducation.org/s/Deshaies2015.pdf

RÉSUMÉ. Certains prérequis s’avèrent essentiels à la réussite des élèves en mathématiques. En s’appuyant sur des études neuroscientifiques et cognitivistes portant sur les nombres et le calcul, cet article propose trois prérequis susceptibles de préparer le cerveau de l’élève du préscolaire à l’arithmé- tique : le développement du sens des nombres, l’établissement du lien entre le sens des nombres et le système numérique symbolique, et le développement de l’inhibition.

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