Does inhibition have a key role to play in overcoming intuitive interferences in science?

Lafortune, S., Masson, S., & Potvin, P. (2012, May 24-26). Does inhibition have a key role to play in overcoming intuitive interferences in science? Paper presented at the Meeting of the Special Interest Group (SIG) 22 "Neuroscience and Education" of the European Association for Research on Learning and Instruction (EARLI), University of London, United Kingdom. url:


Over the past few decades, a major research concern in science education has been the topic of pre-instructional misconceptions concerning various phenomena that students bring to class. Recent research suggested that some students’ firmly held misconceptions could stem from the interference of intuitive reasoning. This study takes into account the contributions of neuroscience and psychology to aim to understand mental processes associated with overcoming intuitive interference in science. To do so, a computerized task usable in brain imaging devices was developed. Methodological choices surrounding the construction of this task, which present intuitive and counter-intuitive stimuli related to the concept of density, will be described in this communication. Using this task, empirical data (reaction time, accuracy of responses) was collected from hundreds of students aged from 8 to 14, and will be analyzed. The anticipated results will potentially corroborate the hypothesis that inhibitory control mechanisms are involved in overcoming intuitive interference.