Education could be changed forever after discovery of learning biomarker

14 Jun 2018


The way we educate children could be changed forever after the discovery of a possible biomarker for long-term learning, crucial to our understanding of the world.

It is safe to say that we don’t remember everything we learned at school, be it a language you haven’t spoken since you left, or the context behind Shakespeare’s greatest plays.

However, there may be a genetic reason as to how you have taken all those other long-lasting memories with you since then, as a possible biomarker for long-term learning has just been discovered.

Publishing its findings in a paper to the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, a team from the Boston University School of Science believes its breakthrough may lead to different educational techniques to improve learning in the classroom so that more information stays with you for the rest of your life.

For the study, the researchers looked at first-year students undertaking an introductory anatomy class, measuring the students’ brain responses to anatomical terms using electroencephalography (EEG) before starting the course.

With measurements taken before the course and six months after completion, the team said it found a ‘spike’ in the late positive component (LPC) brainwave connected with a person’s ability to retain the information in the long term.

Whole new teaching methods

This brainwave biomarker, the researchers said, has the potential to allow educators to try out different teaching techniques to improve their students’ long-term learning by measuring the results using special EEG event-related tests.

“Our results allow for various teaching methods to be tried in a classroom setting and measured immediately at the end of the course – possibly even at the end of a particular lesson,” said the paper’s corresponding author, Katherine Turk.

The possibilities in the classroom produced by these new techniques could offer the greatest LPC brainwave education.

This news follows on from the discovery that a number of popular psychedelic drugs – including LSD and DMT – could help in the treatment of depression when administered in small doses.

The psychedelics increased both the density of dendritic spines and the density of synapses, increasing neural plasticity.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic