There are many neurological capacities that constitute the underpinnings of learning, even when learning is defined broadly to include reading, math, social communication, emotional well-being, and creativity. These universal building blocks for learning include:
- Attention, the ability to focus across time on relevant information and ignore distractions
- Prediction, the ability to anticipate what is about to come next
- Memory; of which there are several different component parts including short and long term memory, memory for episode in your life (episodic memory) and memory for facts (declarative memory).
- Processing speed; how fast incoming sensory and motor information can be detected, discriminated, sequenced
- Spatial skills; how information in space is perceived, manipulated and stored
- Executive functions; higher level cognitive functions such as inhibitory control, planning, reasoning, decision making.
Improving one or more of these neural capacities/competencies has been shown to improve student performance, independent of content (language, math, science) or curriculum used. This is a far-reaching and potentially revolutionary conclusion that is contrary to the current beliefs of many teachers, administrators, parents and students, who have historically emphasized curriculum as the key to improved learning.
Via Huey O'Brien, Teresa McDaniel