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Neuroscience and Mindfulness

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Wendy Christensen

on 18 March 2014

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Transcript of Neuroscience and Mindfulness

What can mindfulness do to help our brain function?
Neuroplasicity and Mindfulness can lead to reversing or changing the "bad" wiring of neurons due to stress
Scientific evidence suggests that mindfulness can reverse the effects of damage to the amygdala (limbic system) resulting from stress
Focus obtained from Mindfulness can release the chemical Acetylcholine that produces calm and more focus
What can Mindfulness do for students?
What is Mindfulness and how can it affect brain function?
"Mindfulness brings our body into balance by quieting down the very part of our nervous system that gets all whacked out when we are stressed out, and by reinforcing a sense of alert calmness."

The Brain
How do we optimize learning?
Neuroscience and Mindfulness
A Mindful Nation

Tim Ryan
Brain-Centered Approach for Teaching

The Brain Targeted Teaching Model
Daniel Siegel
: The Power and Purpose of the Teenage Mind
Regular practice of mindfulness
techniques can improve students':
decision making
short term memory
increase efficiency of learning
emotional skills

Mindfulness is a focus of programs that support Social Emotional Learning (SEL)

This means improved engagement and better academic performance from our students. Mindfulness also helps with emotional regulation. If students can become self aware of emotions they can learn to calm themselves down and have more insight into what's happening around them.
Brain Target
Brain Target
Brain Target
Brain Target

Brain Target
Emotional Climate for Learning
Physical Environment
Learning Design
Teaching for Mastery of Content, Skills, and Concepts
Brain Target
Teaching for the Extension and Application of Knowledge: Creativity and Innovation in Education
Evaluating Learning
Assessments provided throughout the lesson
Multiple opportunities for active retrieval of information
Scaffolded feedback (incremental hints rather than giving the answer)
Student portfolios
Performance assessments
Holistic and analytic rubrics
Memory - from short-term memory to long-term memory via a process called
Variety of activities offer a range of experiences to reinforce learning/memory
Visual & performing arts integrated in activities
Homework & out-of-school activities reinforce learning goals
Activities reflect the needs of all students
"Effort after meaning" - allow students to puzzle over a stimulus in order to understand - enhances memory
Strategies for strong memory - mnemonics, chunking/grouping, challenge, and interleaving (mixing tasks vs. block sets of the same task)
Student work displayed
Positive language - use of praised and veiled commands
Predictability - establish classroom routines, rituals, and celebrations
Emotional events - managing and coping with emotionally charged events
Relationships - foster connectedness in school with a caring adult
Choice & control - offer students choices in relating to content which can provide agency/a sense of control
Reflection and mindfulness practices
Clean and orderly environment
Proper lighting - natural daylight
Novelties - capture the attention of students
Acoustics - music, natural sounds, quiet time
Movement enhances learning & attention - integrate opportunities for exercise
Essential concept, content, and skill targets identified
Learning goals displayed for students
Visual representations - use of graphic organizers & visual aids
Highlight connections and relationships between elements/topics
Learning activities - use of a variety of teaching practices
Continuing education - professional development, mentoring, and coaching supports curricular instructional decisions
Opportunities for divergent thinking within classroom discussions, class activities, and projects
Critical thinking & problem solving activities
Types of activities: investigations, surveys, problem-based learning with cross discipline, multiple solutions, designing experiments, creating metaphors & analogies, self-reflection, creating narratives, etc
Real-world applications
Opportunities to extend knowledge and display creativity through projects, assignments, and performance tasks
Mariale Hardiman
What is Mindfulness?
A particular way of paying attention
Transforms impulsive reactions to thoughtful responses with kindness
Helps stress management
More thoughtful responses lead to improved:
emotional regulation
conflict resolution
Organizations that support SEL in Schools
MindUP- Sponsored by the Goldie Hawn Foundation (thehawnfoundation.org/mindup)
Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) (www.casel.org/)
Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education (CARE) (www.care4teachers.org)
Compelling Video evidence of mindfulness benefits to the brain:
Adolescent Brain Development
The goal of adolescent brain development is for the brain to become more integrated and function as a harmonious whole.
Pruning (fosters differentiation)
Myelination (helps to form permanent connections)
Adolescents' strengths are
. Adults can help them harness their strengths by integrating ESSENCE and mindfulness. Teachers can help by using The Brain-Targeted Teaching Model.
Cowan, M. (2007).
Our Mission Is to Integrate Mindfulness into Education.
Website. Retrieved from http://www.mindfulschools.org/.

Cozolino, L. & Buczynski, R.
Why All Practitioners Are Neuroscientists.
The National Institute for the Clinical Application of Behavioral Medicine.

Hardiman, M. M. (2012).
The brain-targeted teaching model for 21st-century schools.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Liberti, L. (2013). Learning Brain [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://www.raisingmiro.com/2013/12/26/back-to-adult-un-school-never-to-old-to-learn-grow-and-create/

Ryan, T. (2012).
A mindful nation: How a simple practice can help us reduce stress, improve performance, and recapture the American spirit.

Sillito, D. (2012, January 4).
Scans ‘show mindfulness meditation brain boost’.
Video. Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-16406814

The Hawn Foundation. (2011).
The MindUP Program.
Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/.

Unknown author. (N.D.). Prefrontal Cortex, [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://karg.cbi.pku.edu.cn/brain-info.php.
Limbic System
Hippocampus (memory)
Instinctive Survival Responses (fight, flight, faint, freeze)
Brain Stem
Parasympathetic functioning (breathing, heartbeat, etc.)
Connects brain to body
Prefrontal Cortex
Interconnected with Limbic System and Brain stem
Executive functioning
Adults can help optimize adolescent brain development by:

emotional sparks
or passion
social engagement
and providing healthy supportive relationships
encouraging constructive
creative exploration

Siegel suggests that parents and teachers apply ESSENCE to help adolescence develop resilience
Connections formed in myelination are absolutely critical for harmonious balanced brain fuction. While teens are forming more connections because of myelination they are simultaneously "whittling away connections" that are not activated or being engaged because of pruning.
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