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Dropping Out – What Neuroscience Can Teach Us

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Slides From The Event


The Best Way for Children to Learn Math – Daniel Ansari

neuromyths in education

Breaking Down Neuromyths in Education – Steve Masson

Three Supersessions That Could change The Way You Think About Teaching And Learning

Low levels of literacy and numeracy and poor physical condition can contribute to a longer-term process of student disengagement, which leads to dropping out. Some traditional beliefs about how children learn might also be hindering our ability to adopt new teaching practices that are better suited to a student’s brain. At this symposium, a select group of ambitious researchers will share the potential for neuroscience research to change the way we tackle these issues. Each Supersession includes a fast-paced presentation followed by challenging discussions on how these findings could impact classroom practice.

Supersession 1

An evidence-based truce in the ongoing ‘Math Wars’


Dr. Daniel Ansari
Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Western University
Principal Investigator at the Numerical Cognition Laboratory

Traditional Math vs. Discovery Math – drilling and times tables vs. hands-on open-ended problem solving. Which side of the fence are you on? Cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Daniel Ansari shares what the research actually says about the best ways that children learn math, and how this evidence could change the way we think about individual learning styles as well as addressing learning difficulties in literacy and numeracy.

Sharing what we have learned from psychology and neuroscience about how children learn math and the importance of early math, Dr. Ansari’s presentation will slice through the current new math vs. old math debate – which relies on false extreme dichotomies – to showcase a long line of research on the ways that successful math learning is achieved.


Video Presentations

Twitter: @numcog

Supersession 2

Teaching methods that are better adapted to the brain function of students


Steve Masson
Professor, Faculty of Education
Université du Québec à Montréal
Director of the Laboratory for Research in Neuroeducation

Though not supported by research, the neuromyths associated with students’ learning styles, the idea of hemispheric dominance, and the belief that coordination exercises can improve learning focus are known to be false and yet still widely believed. These neuromyths may lead teachers to use educational practices that are not entirely compatible with their students’ brain function, and in this presentation, two pedagogical principles that teachers should use will be shared.

With all of the educational games, products and websites that claim to build intelligence or enhance learning using principles of neuroscience, there are also a lot of recent research discoveries that have shattered many persistent ‘neuromyths’ in education, which can serve as powerful indicators about teaching and learning best practices. Steve Masson will deconstruct several of these neuromyths and share practical ideas for teaching suited to the way students’ brains learn most effectively.

Publications and Video Presentations

Laboratory for Research in Neuroeducation

Association for Research in Neuroeducation

Twitter: @SteveMasson

Supersession 3

How a Students’ Physical Condition Affects Their Learning

lindsay thornton

Dr. Lindsay Thornton
Dr. Alex Thornton
Dr. Chris Gilbert
RTSG Neuroscience
San Diego, CA

It’s no secret that students need exercise to help them pay attention during class time. Three neuroscientists will share their fascinating discoveries of exactly how much exercise, and which types, influence the brain and how this and other outside factors such as sleep affects learning, particularly among students with behavioural issues.

Drs. Lindsay Thornton, Alex Thornton and Chris Gilbert will demonstrate how exercise influences the brain and affects learning, and the application of scientific findings in learning environments. They will define optimal pre-lesson exercise and how it can be a positive outlet for restlessness and negative feelings, increase self-control and focus, reduce class disruption, and boost student performance in math and English.


No matter what role you play in the education sector, you will return from this symposium better informed on how neuroscience research can improve your classroom practice and positively influence policy-making, curriculum and evaluation design.

Join over 300 participants curious to learn more about the true potential for how neuroscience research can impact teaching and learning, and influence current dropout prevention plans.

Who Should Attend:

School district superintendents and administrators, Principals and Vice-Principals, Faculty of Education Deans and Researchers, Ministries of Education representatives, Education not-for-profit leaders, School Trustees, Teachers, Students and Parents.


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Daniel Ansari is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology and the Brain & Mind Institute at Western University in London, Ontario, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory. Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioural and neuroimaging methods. He has a keen interest in exploring connections between cognitive psychology, neuroscience and education and currently serves as the President of the International Mind, Brain and Education Society (IMBES). In 2009 Ansari received the ‘Early Career Contributions’ Award from the Society for Research in Child Development and in 2011, he was recognized by the Boyd McCandless Early Researcher Award from the American Psychological Association. In 2014, Ansari was named as a member of the inaugural cohort of the College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists of the Royal Society of Canada and in 2015 he received the E.W.R Steacie Memorial Fellowship from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.


Chris Gilbert studied Computational Neuropsychology at McMaster University and completed his PhD thesis on learning and the brain (simulating executive functions and memory through computer models of the brain). He has gone on to complete studies that use targeted exercise to improve outcomes in school, at work, and in life. Some examples include studies that examine: the benefit of biking on academics and among ADHD students, the effect of using of the Kinect device in schools, the effectiveness of police wellness programs on job performance, and the use of exercise on a clinical population at schools, among others. Chris is an expert in measuring mental processes and in the application of statistics in program evaluations.


After being a teacher at elementary and high school levels for five years, Steve Masson did one of the first doctorates in education using data from functional magnetic resonance imaging. Since 2012, he has been a Professor in the Faculty of Education at Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM) and director of the Laboratory for Research in Neuroeducation (LRN). Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), he explores the brain mechanisms associated to academic learning and teaching. He has a keen interest in studying the effects of learning and teaching sciences on the brain and the role of inhibition and neuronal recycling in challenging learnings. In addition to being the director and editor-in-chief of the Neuroeducation journal, he is in charge of the neuroeducation courses offered by the Department of Pedagogy at UQAM and chair of the Association for Research in Neuroeducation, an organization dedicated to developing and disseminating research on neuroeducation. In 2013, he received the Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education for his work combining neuroscience and education.

lindsay thornton

Lindsay Thornton has her doctorate in Counseling and Sport Psychology. Previously, she taught first grade, coached gymnastics and researched Positive Psychology. Her current research focuses on better understanding psychophysiology (the relationship between psychology and brain/body responses) and optimal performance, and she has published several papers and chapters in this domain. She is interested in identifying and teaching “expert” strategies to those with less expertise to accelerate development and performance. Lindsay has worked with elite sports teams, military, corporate and educational organizations. She is also a sport psychologist at the United States Olympic Committee specializing in performance psychophysiology.

qcneuro alex thornton

Alex Thornton, a teacher for seven years, has his doctorate in Educational Leadership. He has experiencing coaching nearly all team sports. His post doctoral work was with Dr. John Ratey focusing on using exercise to change school cultures and optimize student learning. He also collaborates closely with other leading thinkers to bring findings from sleep, nutrition, play, and Neuro/Biofeedback research to educational and organizational settings. Alex’s goal is to merge neuroscience with education, and teach people how to make sustainable positive changes in their lives to maximize their potential.

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