A neuroscientist, an electrical engineer, a surgeon, and an education researcher walk up to a bar. This could be the start of a joke, or it could be a scene from a recent Science of Learning Institute event at Johns Hopkins University. At the institute’s four-times-yearly Belgian Beer Events, scientists from far-flung fields—and often from far-flung parts of the university itself—present their research to each other in short, digestible chunks. Their creativity and conviviality stimulated by a cup of ale or lager, the researchers strike up conversations and form connections that range widely across disciplinary boundaries, from classroom learning to machine learning, from recovery from stroke to memory formation in the brain.
Johns Hopkins University President Ronald J. Daniels and fellow members of the Northern California community of Johns Hopkins came together for fun, networking, and a fascinating glimpse into the Science of Learning last October. Institute Director Dr. Barbara Landau led a group of faculty experts from across Johns Hopkins in a discussion about new approaches and tools for improving learning throughout the lifetime, and some of the opportunities and challenges ahead (links to video footage and photo gallery).
Researchers at Johns Hopkins say they have found that a gene already implicated in human speech disorders and epilepsy is also needed for vocalizations and synapse formation in mice. The finding, they say, adds to scientific understanding of how language develops, as well as the way synapses — the connections among brain cells that enable us to think — are formed.
Many of us—particularly as we age—find our memories betraying us. But for Lonni Sue Johnson, an accomplished artist and musician in her 60s, this betrayal is far greater than most of us can imagine. Johnson suffers from what’s called profound amnesia. She can’t form new memories. She can’t remember things that happened to her only minutes before, and she can’t bring up old memories, either. But while her brain doesn’t work the way it should, it does give us meaningful clues about how our brains work and can be improved.
What is it like to live life without being able to create new memories? New experiences gone in seconds, others in minutes, but next to nothing endures. JHU Science of Learning researchers Barbara Landau and Mike McCloskey are learning from an artist who has lost her power of recall.
The Science of Learning Institute discovers we know little about how we learn. The institute’s creation could be regarded as formal recognition of a paradox. Many life forms learn. Some of them learn well. But they do not approach the ability of humans to learn.
Dr. Dwight Bergles, professor of neuroscience at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is featured in Scientific American MIND Guest Blog discussing research advances in the study of glial cells and the roles they play in the brain.
The Science of Learning Institute is featured in the Spring 2013 issue of JHU’s “Arts & Sciences” magazine. The article, “Learning Along the Life Span,” explains the Institute’s efforts to foster interdisciplinary research on how the human brain learns from infancy through old age.
The University announced it’s launch of Rising to the Challenge: The Campaign for Johns Hopkins that will span the next four years to raise an amazing $4.5 billion to attract, sustain, and further empower the people of Johns Hopkins. The launch was accompanied by a letter from President Daniels to the Johns Hopkins community on May 4th outlining the campaign’s goals and its central pillars: advancing discovery and creativity, enriching the student experience, and solving global problems. The Science of Learning Institute is one of the campaign’s signature initiatives for solving global problems.
In January, the university launched the Science of Learning Institute to better understand the processes and underpinnings of human learning.The institute, believed to be the first of its kind, was forged with the goal of understanding learning at all levels of scientific inquiry, including how the brain changes through learning, how development and aging affect our ability to learn, how neurological and psychiatric diseases disrupt or change learning, and why there are such vast individual differences that naturally occur among learners.