The Future of Everything covers the innovation and technology transforming the way we live, work and play, with monthly issues on health, money, cities and more. This month is Education & Learning, online starting Aug. 6 and in the paper on Aug. 13.
No one has yet deciphered the brain signals that encode a complex thought, turn an idea into words or make a lasting memory. But powerful clues are emerging to drive the neurotechnology of learning, scientists say.
On the frontier of neuroscience, researchers are inventing devices to enhance learning abilities, from wearable nerve stimulators that boost mental focus to headsets for wireless brain-to-brain communication.
By listening to the electric whispers of thought, some scientists are discovering how to help neurons reinforce what we learn. Others, many of them funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Pentagon’s research arm, are devising ways to improve the brain’s capacity for learning by expanding our natural range of senses to encompass other wavelengths of light or electromagnetic frequencies.
At the same time, education experts are working to understand how classroom education and other experiences affect brain development. They are tracking cognitive changes among 11,000 young people for a decade through the largest long-term study of childhood brain development ever conducted in the U.S.