The Learning Brain: Memory and Brain Development in Children

The Learning Brain: Memory and Brain Development in Children

by Torkel Klingberg
     
 

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Despite all our highly publicized efforts to improve our schools, the United States is still falling behind. We recently ranked 15th in the world in reading, math, and science. Clearly, more needs to be done. In The Learning Brain, Torkel Klingberg urges us to use the insights of neuroscience to improve the education of our children.

The key to improving

Overview

Despite all our highly publicized efforts to improve our schools, the United States is still falling behind. We recently ranked 15th in the world in reading, math, and science. Clearly, more needs to be done. In The Learning Brain, Torkel Klingberg urges us to use the insights of neuroscience to improve the education of our children.

The key to improving education lies in understanding how the brain works: that is where learning takes place, after all. The book focuses in particular on "working memory"—our ability to concentrate and to keep relevant information in our head while ignoring distractions (a topic the author covered in The Overflowing Brain). Research shows enormous variation in working memory among children, with some ten-year-olds performing at the level of a fourteen-year old, others at that of a six-year old. More important, children with high working memory have better math and reading skills, while children with poor working memory consistently underperform. Interestingly, teachers tend to perceive children with poor working memory as dreamy or unfocused, not recognizing that these children have a memory problem. But what can we do for these children? For one, we can train working memory. The Learning Brain provides a variety of different techniques and scientific insights that may just teach us how to improve our children's working memory. Klingberg also discusses how stress can impair working memory (skydivers tested just before a jump showed a 30% drop in working memory) and how aerobic exercise can actually modify the brain's nerve cells and improve classroom performance.

Torkel Klingberg is one of the world's leading cognitive neuroscientists, but in this book he wears his erudition lightly, writing with simplicity and good humor as he shows us how to give our children the best chance to learn and grow.

Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Christine Kenneally
With a friendly and clear writing style, Klingberg introduces us to the factors that shape working memory, and the profound impact it has on our lives.
From the Publisher
"With a friendly and clear writing style, Klingberg introduces us to the factors that shape working memory, and the profound impact it has on our lives... Crucially, Klingberg highlights the costs of missed diagnosis: children with working memory deficits have extreme difficulty attaining math and verbal skills and suffer from low self-esteem" — New York Times Book Review

"Klingberg mixes multiple anecdotes with scientific studies... The result is fascinating and readable. There is much to recommend in this book. The anecdotes and descriptions of many pieces of research are interesting and sure to pique the curiosity of most readers." —PsycCRITIQUES

Library Journal
Swedish neuroscientist Klingberg (cognitive neuroscience, Stockholm Brain Inst., Karolinska Inst., Sweden; The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory) relates his latest research on children's brain development and working memory to education and public policy. He tells us, "we are in the midst of a swelling torrent of knowledge about learning," citing scientific articles published on the subject since 2000. His work here is largely a synthesis of the most interesting articles and studies on some of the hot topics in popular brain science, i.e., brain training, stress, learning disabilities, and exercise. The book concludes with a suggestion, "Why not an X prize for learning?" while advocating an education system based on science rather than politics. VERDICT While not as engaging as some popular-science titles published in recent years, this book is nonetheless a timely and fascinating choice for interested lay readers.—Mindy Rhiger, Minneapolis, MN

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780199917105
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
Publication date:
11/02/2012
Pages:
200
Sales rank:
1,231,191
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.40(h) x 2.90(d)

Meet the Author

Torkel Klingberg, MD, PhD, is Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Stockholm Brain Institute, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden. His work on child development and brain training is at the international front line. Klingberg leads a major Swedish project on child development, lectures regularly at international conferences, is the recipient of several prizes, and a member of the Nobel Assembly. He is the author of The Overflowing Brain: Information Overload and the Limits of Working Memory (OUP).

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