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102207 The Brain And Learning

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102207 The Brain And Learning

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102207 The Brain And Learning

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Course Code: 102207
University: Western Sydney University

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Country: Australia

You have four options for which to write an essay (you are only to write on one option):
Option 1: Growth Mindset and Perma
Option 2: Memory and Instructional Design
Option 3 Adolescent Brain and Peer Influence
Option 4 Gifted Minds.
Option 3: Adolescent Brain and Peer Influence
You must cover any 3 concepts of the following:

Adolescent Risk Taking
Use or lose it Principle
Mismatch in maturation rates of social-emotional system (limbic) and cognitive control system.
Peer Influence on Adolescent Behaviour
Methods for teaching regulation of emotion or attention (You may address 3- please check with your tutor before commencing)
Brain connectivity and specialization.

After discussing 3 concepts from one of the aforementioned weeks, provide 3 examples of the effective application/use of these concepts in an educational setting. Ensure you support your discussion and examples with explicit to theory.


Adolescent Brain and Peer Influence
Adolescence refers to phase of the life between childhood and that of adulthood. The adolescents look for diversion and new experiences that puts their health in grave danger. High plasticity in relation to adolescent brain enables environmental influence that exerts strong effect on the cortical circuitry of the adolescents. Physical and emotional maturation takes place at this stage but it also paves the way for harmful influences (Albert, Chein & Steinberg, 2013). Adolescence refers to time when teenagers become susceptible to the peer pressure as the peers have a significant influence on behaviour at the adolescent stage. Peer pressure can be said to be a hallmark pertaining to adolescent experience. Children who are in the adolescent stage become aware regarding people around them and they realize the significance of perception at this stage of life. This essay discusses the concepts of use or lose it principle and brain connectivity. It talks about the influence that peers have on the adolescent behaviour and how this can be applied in the context of secondary school teaching.
Principle of Use or Lose it in Adolescence
The brain of an adolescent has a ‘use it or lose it’ system of pruning that results in decreased number of the connections. The brain connections are stimulated at the time of adolescence and they become strengthened owing to repeated use. The connections that are not used tend to wither away at the adolescent stage. This concept suggests that the adolescent brain destroys the connections that are weak and it preserves those which experience has rendered to be useful. This process of synaptic pruning occurs throughout life but it takes place mostly in late childhood and in the teenage years. Synapses carrying most messages have the tendency of becoming stronger and the ones that are weak tends to get cut out. Tis can help in the aspect of refinement along with specialisation (Dunbar, 2014).  The experiences that are given to the young people is of crucial importance as it goes through synaptic wiring. It destroys and creates the connections very quickly and what the adolescent learns gets hardwired in the brain of an individual for the remaining part of his life. The studies that have been carried out with the non-human animals have brought out the fact that environmental opportunity have an influence on connections that can be retained at the stage of pruning. The manner the teenagers spend the time and make use of brain has an influence on organization along with capacity of brains. The activities that are undertaken by the adolescents can ensure that circuits underpinning adaptive functioning can grow (Peper & Dahl, 2013).The teenagers can create their brains and the things that they want to learn are hardwired in their brains. There are some adolescents who engage in music along with sports that helps in sustaining synaptic connections within associated areas. The needs of the students should be recognized and on this basis the intellectual abilities should be developed in the students.
The concept of “use or lose it” can be applied in the educational setting by the implementation of a brain training program. I would keep rewards that can help in driving changes within the brain of the adolescents at the time of secondary school teaching. The difficulties are different in relation to a task that can help in driving changes with a great amount of proficiency (Parkinson & Wheatley, 2015). In the classroom, a problem can be established and the students can be paired. Each pair of the student can be given sufficient amount of time with the help of which they can arrive at a conclusion. The participants should be permitted to define conclusion in the personal voice. One student can explain concept whereas the other student can evaluate the learning. This classroom activity can keep the students engaged and this can help them in retaining important information in their brain (Giedd, 2012). This can help in developing the abilities of the secondary school students and they would stay engaged in the classroom.
                                                                    Figure: Brain Training Program
                                                                            Source: (Dunbar, 2014)
Peer Influence on Adolescent Behaviour
Peer influence acts as a contextual factor that contributes to the tendency of the adolescents of making risky decisions. The crime statistics have brought out the fact that adolescents perform delinquent acts within the peer groups. The adolescents affiliate with the delinquent peers owing to peer socialisation along with friendship choice (Lehmann & Skoe, 2015).The adolescents that exhibit risk taking behaviour have a tendency of gravitating towards each other. The “primes” of the adolescents increases probability that adolescents would be favour short-term benefit in relation to a risky choice. They do not like to choose long-term value in relation to safe alternative. Peer groups can help the adolescents in learning and maintaining the norms in relation to social behaviour that helps in the promotion of socio-economic competence (Squeglia et al., 2015).  In the adolescent age, the teenagers want to form identity and hence the peer influence acts on them greatly at this stage of life. The peer relationship can promote and it can also protect against engaging in risky behaviour. Friendship acts as multidimensional concept that encompasses the aspects of companionship, support and intimacy. The relationships that have high support has “positive quality” whereas those relationships that have high conflict has “negative quality” (Hodel et al., 2015).  The negative quality of the friendships can be said to be associated with the delinquent acts and these kind of behaviours takes place because they want to lessen negative feelings that rise owing to high peer conflict.
The adolescents are greatly influenced by the actions and activities of their peers. The peer influence can be used to create interest towards the subject in the case of secondary school teaching. The concept of peer influence on the adolescent behaviour can be used by making use of session groups that can be introduced within the classroom by the secondary school teacher (Fuhrmann, Knoll & Blakemore, 2015).The students can be asked to come together within session groups focussing on single topic. The session groups can help in creating interest towards certain subjects in the students. The student can contribute useful thoughts along with ideas in each group. The secondary school teacher can encourage the aspect of discussion in the classroom that can stimulate the interest of the students towards certain subjects. The collaboration in between the students in the classroom can help the students in learning from each other. The students in the class would like to compete with each other and they would like to gain more knowledge that can help them in excelling at their academic performance (Nelson,  Jarcho & Guyer, 2016).  A person devoting more amount of time towards study at the home will also influence another individual in devoting a great deal of time in studies. This can help in bringing about improvements in their academic results and they would be able to improve in the different domains.
                                                               Figure: Session Groups in Class
                                                    Source: (Fuhrmann, Knoll & Blakemore, 2015)
Brain connectivity and specialization
The human brain goes through developmental changes that results in giving rise to functional brain network. It helps in engendering sophisticated problem solving along with the learning abilities. The complex cognitive abilities in the human beings are hypothesized with the help of functional network that help in the aspect of protracted developmental change (Dunbar, 2014). The brain continuously develops till the time of adulthood and brain connectivity can pave the path for specialization in relation to a particular discipline in relation to secondary school teaching. The adolescent stage gives rise to the concept of Interactive Specialization and at this stage the response properties interact that helps in acquiring new computational abilities (Vijayakumar et al., 2016).  There are some cortical regions in the brain of the adolescents which are poorly defined which become activated in the case of various stimuli along with task context. At the adolescent phase, activity becomes confined within a narrow set of the circumstances. There are some cortical regions in the brain of the adolescent that becomes more specialized in the case of development (Squeglia et al., 2015). This sets the stage for specialization in the subject disciplines. Response properties in relation to cortical regions are determined with the help of pattern of the connectivity to the other regions.
The concept of brain specialization can be utilized in the classroom with the help of teaching science that will be able to develop the scientific temper in the students. The secondary school teacher can introduce science projects in the classroom that can help the students in developing the scientific temper in the secondary school students. It can help the students in developing an enquiring approach that can help them in finding the relevant answers to the problems. The teacher can help the children in the identification of research problem regarding what he is capable of. The students can be asked to read the actual research report that can that can develop their intellectual faculties (Giedd, 2012). The teacher can prepare criteria along with requirement in relation to each kind of project that can help the students in understanding the expectation from them. The evaluation of the projects can be done by the teacher after the completion of the project. The teaching acting as a resource person can help the students in developing specialization in relation to a particular field.
                                                       Figure: Science Projects in Classroom
                                                           Source: (Vijayakumar et al., 2016)
Adolescence is the stage of life in between the childhood stage and the adulthood stage. The adolescents have a tendency of looking for diversion which creates danger for the health of the adolescents. The brain connections of the adolescents are stimulated and it becomes strengthened on account of repeated use. The connections which are not made use of by the adolescent have a tendency of waning away. The principle pertaining to “use or lose it” can be made use of within the scope of secondary school teaching by taking recourse to brain training program. Rewards can be provided to the students that can help in bringing about change in brain of the adolescent during teaching at secondary school stage. Peer influence compels the adolescent in making risky endeavours that threaten their welfare and health. There are some adolescents who show risk taking behaviour and they have a tendency of following each other. Developmental changes take place in human brain which paves the path for functional brain network. It helps in providing an individual with problem solving skills. The science projects can be brought into the curriculum of classroom by secondary school teacher that can inculcate scientific mind set in the students. It develops enquiring approach in the students that helps the students in searching for answers to problems.
Albert, D., Chein, J., & Steinberg, L. (2013). The teenage brain: Peer influences on adolescent decision making. Current directions in psychological science, 22(2), 114-120.
Dunbar, R. I. (2014). The social brain: Psychological underpinnings and implications for the structure of organizations. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 23(2), 109-114.
Fuhrmann, D., Knoll, L. J., & Blakemore, S. J. (2015). Adolescence as a sensitive period of brain development. Trends in cognitive sciences, 19(10), 558-566.
Giedd, J. N. (2012). The digital revolution and adolescent brain evolution. Journal of Adolescent Health, 51(2), 101-105.
Hodel, A. S., Hunt, R. H., Cowell, R. A., Van Den Heuvel, S. E., Gunnar, M. R., & Thomas, K. M. (2015). Duration of early adversity and structural brain development in post-institutionalized adolescents. Neuroimage, 105, 112-119.
Lehmann, A., & Skoe, E. (2015). Robust encoding in the human auditory brainstem: use it or lose it?. Frontiers in neuroscience, 9, 451.
Nelson, E. E., Jarcho, J. M., & Guyer, A. E. (2016). Social re-orientation and brain development: An expanded and updated view. Developmental cognitive neuroscience, 17, 118-127.
Parkinson, C., & Wheatley, T. (2015). The repurposed social brain. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 19(3), 133-141.
Peper, J. S., & Dahl, R. E. (2013). The teenage brain: Surging hormones—Brain-behavior interactions during puberty. Current directions in psychological science, 22(2), 134-139.
Squeglia, L. M., Tapert, S. F., Sullivan, E. V., Jacobus, J., Meloy, M. J., Rohlfing, T., & Pfefferbaum, A. (2015). Brain development in heavy-drinking adolescents. American journal of psychiatry, 172(6), 531-542.
Vijayakumar, N., Allen, N. B., Youssef, G., Dennison, M., Yücel, M., Simmons, J. G., & Whittle, S. (2016). Brain development during adolescence: A mixed?longitudinal investigation of cortical thickness, surface area, and volume. Human brain mapping, 37(6), 2027-2038.

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