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Environmental and Chemical Factors Lanai Slifka EDU 417: Cognitive Studies Capstone Joanne Saverese-Levine 04/07/2014
Introduction To begin I would like to express the importance of various neurotransmitters in the brain and how they relate to learning and memory. We will also take a look at some of the environmental factors that exist. These include movement, sleep, nutrition, technology and learning, and neuroplasicity. There is also a relationship between the neurochemical and environmental factors that will be addressed. Lastly there are some ways that environmental and neurochemical factors can be supported at home and at school.
Discuss the relationship between the various neurotransmitters and learning and memory. � Dopamine- Control conscious motor activity Enhance pleasurable feelings in the brain’s reward system. � Serotonin- Mood enhancer Calming not stimulating Related to depression Memory, sleep, appetite control and regulation of body temperature. � Acetylcholine. Generally excitatory, but can also act as an inhibitor Can enhance rapid eye movement Involved in our memory circuits
Examine Each Factor: � Neuroplasticity- In addition to the brain being shaped by its genetic code it also is shaped by its environment. � Movement � � � Sleep Nutrition Technology on Learning
(Movement) � � � Increased oxygen flow to the bloodstream. More blood means that there is more oxygen. When there is more oxygen it increases capillary health and growth. This can influence plasticity in the frontal lobes. Release of proteins IGF-1 which triggers the Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) to be released. This stimulates neural growth and learning. Exercise affects emotional and physical well being positively. Potential production of neurogenesis. (generation of new cells) Movement can give students a “brain break” and allow them to be able to release any pent up energy that they have in order to refocus on learning. Many classroom activities can be combined with physical movement to help with brain functioning. Hopping, dancing, acting out stories, playing games etc.
(Sleep) � � Consolidation occurs when we are sleeping. This is the process of transferring our short term memories to our long term. Sleeps provides us with a chance to mentally take a break from inputting new information that we are always presented with. Because of this our neural connections are strengthened. Sleep can help store facts and make connections among them.
(Nutrition) � � Helps brain develop and function Students who eat a nutritious breakfast tend to do better academically. People who are overweight have 4% less brain tissue than the average person and obese individuals have 8% less. Food quality is important. For example diets that do not have omega- 3 fatty acids leads to problems with learning and motor functioning. It can also affect systems that use dopamine and serotonin.
(Technology) � � Can be beneficial. Technology such as tv is neither good nor bad. What is emphasized is the child’s age, the content of the program, how long they spend watching it and the activities that are being replaced by their choice to watch tv. As far as videogames are concerned, based on normal criteria and content, games can be a good thing. They can give children an opportunity to problem solve and use higher end thinking. However on the flip side extensive playing can lead to obesity and lack of development in other areas that would be developed if they chose to do something that was more productive and insightful.
Analyze the relationship between these neurochemical and environmental factors: As a result of movement, adequate sleep, proper nutrition and positive exposure to technology, the correct neurochemicals will be produced in order for an individual to effectively develop and learn.
Explore how these environmental and neurochemical factors can be supported in and out of the classroom. (IN) � � In the classroom teachers can support movement by incorporating activities that encourage a student to use their body. They may play games or act out stories. Any type of activity that gets their body moving and their blood flowing. Schools need to understand the importance of gym and also for recess. In their attempts to make school all academic, but eliminating these types of activities they are actually just harming their academic development. Although schools cannot have children sleep at school, teachers can still emphasize the importance of sleep and how the brain learns and functions as a result. Schools can provide nutritious lunch choices Schools can provide positive exposure to technology through multimedia presentations, approved websites and even games.
Explore how these environmental and neurochemical factors can be supported in and out of the classroom. (OUT) � � At home parents can encourage exercise and physical activities. Parents should ensure that their children are on a routine that provides them with adequate amount of sleep each night. Nutrition in the home should be emphasized and nutritious foods should be offered and provided. Parents should be an example to their children in their own food selections. The use of technology should be monitored and children should be guided. Over exposure to any technology source can be harmful even if its intended purpose is for good or learning.
Conclusion As you can see there are many ways that the neurochemicals interplay with the brain and learning. Environmental factors are extremely important in development. All of the factors can influence how the brain functions. It is essential to try to tend to these factors, as it will provide you with a better learning environment.
References: � Al-Sharman, Alham; Siengsukon, Catherine F. ; Physical Therapy, 2013 Dec; 93 (12): 1625 -35. (journal article - research, tables/charts) ISSN: 0031 -9023 PMID: 23907080, Database: CINAHL ‘ � Fischer , K. W. , Immordino-Yang, M. H. , & , (2008). The jossey-bass reader on the brain and learning. (1 st ed. ). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. � Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain matters: Translating research into classroom practice. (2 nd ed. ). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. � Yien, Jui-Mei; Hung, Chun-Ming; Hwang, Gwo-Jen. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology - TOJET, v 10 n 2 p 1 -10 Apr 2011. (EJ 932220)