The Mission

The Science of Learning Institute seeks to understand and optimize the most essential part of our human capital: the ability to learn. The Institute supports interdisciplinary research, training, and outreach programs that will generate scientific discoveries and build meaningful connections between research, practice, and policy.

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Training the next generation of scientists

There is growing recognition that the next generation of scientists must think broadly about how we learn, be able to synthesize knowledge from multiple scientific perspectives, generate innovative, interdisciplinary research, and use these to bridge research, practice, and policy. Our training programs provide young scientists with opportunities to expand their knowledge of the science of learning and its applications to address real world issues.

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Research Highlight:

A new study by SLI experts, Barbara Landau and Michael McCloskey, sheds new light on nature of human memory.

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Save the Date

The Baltimore BrainFest seeks to fulfill this mission by bringing together a vast array of educational resources, experiences, and expertise with the Baltimore community in a day-long event full of family-friendly activities, exhibits, games and more.  

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Generating New Ideas

Facilitating dialog and interaction across the divisions and schools of Johns Hopkins University is critical for generating new, interdisciplinary research in the science of learning and instilling a culture of collaboration. SLI's method for doing this is the Belgian Beer Event (BBE):  Several times during each year, faculty, research scientists, postdoctoral fellows, and graduate students from across the university are invited to present their research and mingle in a casual, conversational atmosphere.  The locations of these community-building events vary across Johns Hopkins campuses in order to promote greater diversity in participation. 

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Conducting Cutting-Edge Science of Learning Research.

Our grant programs generate new scientific discoveries about lifelong learning through interdisciplinary collaborations spanning basic and applied sciences.  

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Training Future Leaders in the Science of Learning.

We train scientists how to think broadly about learning, generate innovative perspectives and research on how we learn, and how to build meaningful connections between research, practice, and policy. 

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Connecting Science to Practice.

We collaborate with educators, practitioners, and policymakers to advance the understanding of science of learning research and translate research into meaningful, evidence-based practices, programs, and policies.

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Funded Research

Why does brain stimulation combined with adaptive working memory...

This project examines whether the combination of electrical brain stimulation and cognitive training can improve cerebral efficiency and plasticity, while simultaneously testing a possible neurobiological mechanism for cognitive fatigue. Results will inform the design of interventions aimed at improving cognitive performance and learning capacity.

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How does learning impact neural networks in the primary visual...

How does learning impact neural networks in the primary visual cortex? This project will investigate learning effects at the neural network level by combining two-photon calcium imaging in animals learning an orientation discrimination task with a state-space analysis approach. Our proposal aims to identify a fundamental learning mechanism that leverages the power of large networks. Our results will help to define the scale at which learning effects need to be studied in the cortex.

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How does the brain control the processing of cooperating and...

How does the brain control the processing of different kinds of information that sometimes need to cooperate and sometimes need to compete, such as sensory information from the outside world versus abstract ideas and relationships? Bridging computational engineering methods, brain imaging techniques, and cognitive neuroscience, this study will test whether the strength of different interactions among multiple brain areas is related to how well an individual person is able to learn different kinds of information. Results will inform our understanding of the mechanisms behind how different parts of the brain communicate with each other. The results also may have implications for treating ADHD, autism, and other disorders with altered interactions between brain areas, and for designing educational methods tailored to the learning strengths and weaknesses of a broad range of typically developing individuals.

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Upcoming Events

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Recent News

JHU Institute for Education Policy features SLI commentary

The science of learning has demonstrated that spatial thinking is a critical, yet undervalued component of STEM learning.

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Richard Huganir elected president of Society for Neuroscience

Johns Hopkins neuroscientist Richard Huganir has been appointed the next president of the Society for Neuroscience, a 38,000-member professional society for researchers who focus on the brain and nervous system. His term will run from 2017 to 2018.

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Save the Date!  Baltimore BrainFest 9/17/2016

Save the date for the first Baltimore BrainFest on September 17th, 2016

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Our Experts

Dr. Randal Burns

Associate Professor, Department of Computer Science

Dr. Tamar Mendelson

Associate Professor, Department of Mental Health

Dr. Marina Bedny

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Michela Gallagher

Krieger-Eisenhower Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Winston Tabb

Sheridan Dean of University Libraries and Museums

Dr. Jin Kang

Jacob Suter Jammer Professor & Chair, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering

Dr. Paul Rothman

Frances Watt Baker, M.D., and Lenox D. Baker Jr., M.D. Dean of Medical Faculty and Vice...

Dr. Robert Blum

William H. Gates Sr. Professor & Chair, Dept. of Population, Family & Reproductive Health;...

Dr. Alfredo Kirkwood

Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Dr. Chadia Abras

Program Director, Distance Education, Center for Technology in Education enter for Technology in...

Dr. Kristina Nielsen

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Dr. Kelly R. Fisher

Associate Director, Science of Learning Institute and Assistant Professor in the School of Education

Dr. Rebecca Haberman

Associate Research Scientist, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

Dr. Robert Lieberman (Chair)

Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs

Dr. Erica Sibinga

Associate Professor, Division of General Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine

Dr. Paul Smolensky

Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Cognitive Science

Dr. Richard Huganir

Professor and Director, Department of Neuroscience; Co-Director, Brain Science Institute

Dr. Benjamin Van Durme

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Center for Language and Speech...