Biological Bases for Learning and Development Across the Lifespan

Richard P. Keeling, Jennifer Stevens Dickson and Trey Avery

in The Oxford Handbook of Lifelong Learning

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780195390483
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Biological Bases for Learning and Development Across the Lifespan

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  • Psychology
  • Organizational Psychology
  • Educational Psychology



Learning at any age is neurobiological: a process occurring through alterations in the microscopic structure and functioning of the brain. The inputs, processes, and outputs of learning are brain functions. Learning can be visualized, located, and measured through brain imaging techniques that depend methodologically on the biological nature of perception, memory, and learning. The stages of cognitive development, which represent the cumulative neurobiological effects of many interactions between persons and the world around them, are generated by multitudes of changes in cells, circuits, and networks of the brain. There is no mind without brain; the experiences of consciousness, thinking, learning, and memory are physical expressions of the work of the brain. The state of mind/brain is a major determinant of a learner’s readiness to learn; recognizing the oneness of mind and brain—and therefore of mind and body—should cause reassessment of many structures, policies, and practices in education.

Keywords: brain-based; development; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI); neurobiology; neuroconstructivism; neuroimaging; neurophilosophy; neuroplasticity; neuroscience; synaptogenesis

Article.  8503 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; Educational Psychology

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