The Centre for Neuroscience in Education
In recent years, there have been substantial advances in understanding the brain. The new Centre for Neuroscience in Education at the University of Cambridge aims to apply these advances to education. Researchers in the Centre use the non-invasive technique of event related potentials (ERPs) to measure changes in children’s brain activity. ERPs are the tiny variations in electricity measurable from the scalp when someone is thinking or processing information. Sensitive electrodes placed on the skin of the scalp measure these electrical changes. The technique is painless, the electrodes are easy to put on as they are mounted in a net or headcap (like a swimming cap), and children enjoy the measurements as they get to watch cartoons!
Headed by Professor Usha Goswami and Dr Denes Szucs (both psychologists), the main research goal of the Centre is to establish the basic parameters of brain development in the cognitive skills critical for reading and mathematics. We aim to understand how the brain functions and changes during the development of reading and maths, exploring the development of related skills such as language, memory, numerosity and attention. Scientists in the Centre also study the variations from typical developmental trajectories that characterise learning disorders such as dyslexia and dyscalculia.