Emotions, Learning, and the Brain: Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience


Chances are you've heard of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. If you haven't, you'll likely enjoy her many presentations and interviews on the relationship between emotions and learning. This recent book (2016) is an excellent summary of her research and that of her colleagues and mentors, including Antonio Damasio. Immordino Yang's basic premise is "We feel, therefore we learn." She devotes most of the book to demonstrating the connection between affective neuroscience, teaching, and learning.

"When educators fail to appreciate the importance of students' emotions, they fail to appreciate a critical force in student's learning."

Although a slim volume, this is not the kind of book you can breeze through in a day or two, nor should you want to. The depth of Immordino-Yang's research and the complexity of her findings and implications for education do force you to slow down and often return to key passages. But this is a strength of this book — it highlights research that is almost never included in teacher education programs or training for future youth development practitioners. Allow yourself to read, re-read, and wonder at the complexity of the human brain. You'll enjoy the journey.

"Affective and social neuroscience findings are suggesting that emotion and cognition, body and mind, work together in students of all ages."

Immordino-Yang spends some time exploring the connection between neuroscience research and the classroom, but she stays away from simplistic causal links and warns against "neuromyths" that reduce complex research findings into seemingly logical recommendations for classroom practice. Again, this is her strength – take your time, savour the complex neuroscience on display here, and you'll glean your own insights.


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