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written by Kevin Niall Dunbar
Fundamental concepts in physics such as Newtonian mechanics are surprisingly difficult to learn and discover. Over the past decade we have used an educational neuroscience approach to science education to investigate the different ways that scientific concepts are invoked or activated in different contexts. In particular, we have sought to determine how networks of brain regions that are highly sensitive to the context in which they are used are involved in the use of scientific concepts. We have found that some physics concepts that are highly tuned to perception are often inhibited in experts (with increased activations in error detection and inhibitory networks of the prefrontal cortex). Other concepts, such as those involved in perceptual causality, can activate highly diverse brain regions depending on task instructions. For example, when students are shown movies of balls colliding, we find increased activation in the right parietal lobe, yet when the students see the exact same movies and are told that these are positively charged particles repulsing we find increased activations in the temporal lobe that is consistent with the students retrieving semantic information. We also see similar changes in activation patterns in students learning about phase shifts in chemistry classes. A key component of both students and scientists' discourse and reasoning is analogical thinking. Our recent fMRI work indicates that categorization is a key component of this type of reasoning that helps bind superficially different concepts together in the service of reasoning about the causes of unexpected findings. Taken together, these results are allowing us to make
insights into the contextually relevant networks of knowledge that are activated during learning. This work is
allowing us to propose why some educational interventions are more successful than others and why certain types
of educational interventions are appropriate for some contexts, but not others.
Physics Education Research Conference 2009
Part of the PER Conference Invited Paper series
Ann Arbor, Michigan: July 29-30, 2009
Volume 1179, Pages 15-18
Subjects ADS Supplements Resource Types
Education - Basic Research
- Cognition
General Physics
- Physics Education Research
- Reference Material
= Article
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Formats:
application/pdf
non-digital
Mirror:
http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.3266703
Access Rights:
Free access and
Available for purchase
Restriction:
© 2009 American Institute of Physics
A preprint of the work is available. A hard copy of the PERC 2009 proceedings is also available.
DOI:
10.1063/1.3266703
PACSs:
01.40.Fk
76.60.Pc
Keywords:
Analogy, Causal reasoning, Microcategory account, NIRS, PERC 2009, Science Education, Scientific reasoning, Scientific thinking, Unexpected findings, fMRI
Record Cloner:
Metadata instance created March 11, 2010 by Lyle Barbato
Record Updated:
March 11, 2010 by Vince Kuo
Last Update
when Cataloged:
November 11, 2009
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Record Link
AIP Format
K. Dunbar, presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2009, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2009, WWW Document, (http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522).
AJP/PRST-PER
K. Dunbar, The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2009, Ann Arbor, Michigan, 2009, <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522>.
APA Format
Dunbar, K. (2009, July 29-30). The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World. Paper presented at Physics Education Research Conference 2009, Ann Arbor, Michigan. Retrieved July 31, 2014, from http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522
Chicago Format
Dunbar, Kevin Niall. "The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World." Paper presented at the Physics Education Research Conference 2009, Ann Arbor, Michigan, July 29-30, 2009. http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522 (accessed 31 July 2014).
MLA Format
Dunbar, Kevin Niall. "The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World." Physics Education Research Conference 2009. Ann Arbor, Michigan: 2009. 15-18 Vol. 1179 of PER Conference Invited Paper. 31 July 2014 <http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522>.
BibTeX Export Format
@inproceedings{ Author = "Kevin Niall Dunbar", Title = {The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World}, BookTitle = {Physics Education Research Conference 2009}, Pages = {15-18}, Address = {Ann Arbor, Michigan}, Series = {PER Conference Invited Paper}, Volume = {1179}, Month = {July 29-30}, Year = {2009} }
Refer Export Format

%A Kevin Niall Dunbar
%T The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World
%S PER Conference Invited Paper
%V 1179
%D July 29-30 2009
%P 15-18
%C Ann Arbor, Michigan
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522
%O Physics Education Research Conference 2009
%O July 29-30
%O application/pdf

EndNote Export Format

%0 Conference Proceedings
%A Dunbar, Kevin Niall
%D July 29-30 2009
%T The Biology of Physics: What the Brain Reveals about Our Understanding of the Physical World
%B Physics Education Research Conference 2009
%C Ann Arbor, Michigan
%V 1179
%P 15-18
%S PER Conference Invited Paper
%8 July 29-30
%U http://www.compadre.org/Repository/document/ServeFile.cfm?ID=9890&DocID=1522


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