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.