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Educational Neuroscience at Peabody College and Vanderbilt University

Educational Neuroscience

 Vanderbilt Educational Neuroscience

Vanderbilt University is a world leader in the area of Educational Neuroscience. Educational Neuroscience allows the placing of important educational issues within a scientific context that compliments the social science basis of educational research and the biological basis of learning and behavior in neuroscience. This program merges psychological investigations, in a broad framework including developmental, cognitive, and affective processes, with neuroscience research spanning multiple levels from genetics to systems in order to better understand core educational areas such as reading, math, science and socio-emotional development. From these collaborative questions a better understanding of how the brain learns and more effective ways of teaching emerges. 

 At Vanderbilt University, Educational Neuroscience has three pillars. First, we aim to precisely understand the underlying mechanisms involved in typical and atypical learning, especially in underserved populations. Second, we invent methods to reliably diagnose or identify specific domains and networks affected by disorders or the environment. Third, we develop novel interventions and methods for predicting response to intervention based on neuro-scientific principles. Educational Neuroscience aims to enhance outcomes in all individuals, but particularly for those with fewer opportunities or those who are affected by disabilities. Through these pillars, Educational Neuroscience will fundamentally contribute to the future of teacher education and the development of educational policies.

Students interested in this area of the Vanderbilt Neuroscience Graduate Program should apply and highlight their interest in Educational Neuroscience in their statement of interest.

For Educational Neuroscience specific requirements click here

Grounding in high quality Neuroscience:
Our program is housed within the Vanderbilt Neuroscience Graduate Program, one of the best in the country. As such, our program offers an unparalleled platform from which students can become expert in neuroscience research methods ranging from single-cell recording in primates through to functional magnetic resonance imaging in children. World class neuroimaging facilities at the Vanderbilt University Institute for Imaging Sciences (VUIIS) are combined with an array of the world’s leading neuroscientists, making Vanderbilt an international hub for cutting-edge neuroscience research.

Integration with Peabody College of Education:
Educational Neuroscience is distinguished from traditional cognitive neuroscience by its focus on research questions that have direct educational relevance. As such, expertise in education and cognitive psychology research is essential for an educational neuroscientist. Vanderbilt boasts one of the nation’s most prestigious and highly ranked education schools. Students in the program have the opportunity to work closely with faculty, gaining experience in research techniques ranging from classroom studies, through intervention studies, to working with atypically developing children in a range of settings. 

What type of students should apply to the Educational Neuroscience program?
Vanderbilt welcomes applications from students from a wide range of backgrounds. However, given the focus of the program on basic research as it applies to questions of educational relevance, the ideal candidates will typically be learning sciences, psychology or neuroscience graduates, and will have some form of research experience. This experience could take the form of working as a research assistant for credit during undergraduate, working as a paid research assistant post-graduation, or graduating from a master’s program with a research component. Preference will be given to students who have research interests that closely align with a specific primary advisor.

What type of career does the Educational Neuroscience program prepare me for?
Bearing in the mind the program’s focus on rigorous research methods, graduating students will most often move on to postdoctoral or faculty positions, typically at research oriented universities. This program does not prepare students to be educational practitioners working in classrooms, but instead trains students to be leading research scientists in the exciting and emerging field of educational neuroscience.

What type of research project could I expect to be engaged in as a student in the program?
Some examples of ongoing projects include, fMRI and DTI studies investigating the neural function and structure of children with reading and math learning disorders. Other studies use neuroimaging methods to assess the effectiveness of educational interventions, while others might use neuroimaging methods to predict which children might be at higher risk of developing a specific disorder.