We believe our Scientists are leading the conversation on the science of learning.

Scientist of the Month: March 2024

Dr. Andrea Chiba, UCSD, Professor, Dept. of Cognitive Science and Program in Neuroscience

Providing opportunities for every child and family to thrive can be accelerated by globally sharing science and cultural knowledge surrounding learning and wellbeing.

The work of my laboratory team examines the neural basis of affect, learning, and attention.
We try to understand the dynamics of the brain and body and how they align with
environmental demands to engage in learning. We use convergent techniques ranging from
neurophysiological recording in rodents, computational and robotic models, and work that
translates our basic science for the purpose of studying learning in natural settings such as
classrooms. We examine experiential history as a means to understand individual differences in
physiology, brains, and their manifestation in classroom learning. We believe that gaining a
deep understanding of what makes the brain change states, and how those states impact
learning and socialization can be fundamental in imagining how societies can be aligned with
the learning needs of children and families for the purpose of thriving and wellbeing. I also
engage in work directly with schools, educators, non-profits, and in global science of learning
advocacy towards grass roots efforts to support education and society. In my first career, I was
a high school mathematics teacher.

Key Findings

Time and timing matter for learning. The way in which students are able to synchronize or time their attention and action with their teachers and other students may relate to how well they are able to quickly pay attention to things in the world, like speech streams and video streams. We did a series of studies and discovered that an individual’s ability to musically synchronize with another person is related to their ability to rapidly attend to information, both auditory and visual. Group musical activities may be particularly relevant to building the ability to synchronize with others. 

Further Reading

Khalil, AC, Minces, VH, Iversen, J, Musacchia, G, Zhao, C, Chiba, AA (2019) Music, Cognition, and Education. 21st CENTURY EDUCATION: THE LEARNER, THE ENVIRONMENT OECD Publications.

Khalil AK, Minces VH, McLoughlin, G. & Chiba A (2013). Musical synchrony predicts attention in school children. Frontiers in Educational Psychology, Special Issue: Educational Neuroscience, Constructivist Learning, and the Mediation of Learning and Creativity in the 21st Century. Front. Psychol, 02 September.

D’Andrea-Penna, G.M., Iversen, J.R., Chiba, A.A., Khalil, A.K., Minces, V.H. (2020) One Tap at a Time: Correlating Sensorimotor Synchronization with Brain Signatures of Temporal Processing, Cerebral Cortex Communications, Volume 1, Issue 1.

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