Emotions, Learning, and the Brain

Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience

The Norton Series on the Social Neuroscience of Education


Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (Author)

With an Afterword by Antonio Damasio, With a Foreword by Howard Gardner

Overview | Contents

An orientation to affective neuroscience as it relates to educators.

In this ground-breaking collection, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang—an affective neuroscientist, human development psychologist, and former public school teacher—presents a decade of work with the potential to revolutionize educational theory and practice by deeply enriching our understanding of the complex connection between emotion and learning.

With her signature talent for explaining and interpreting neuroscientific findings in practical, teacher-relevant terms, Immordino-Yang offers two simple but profound ideas: first, that emotions are such powerful motivators of learning because they activate brain mechanisms that originally evolved to manage our basic survival; and second, that meaningful thinking and learning are inherently emotional, because we only think deeply about things we care about. Together, these insights suggest that in order to motivate students for academic learning, produce deep understanding, and ensure the transfer of educational experiences into real-world skills and careers, educators must find ways to leverage the emotional aspects of learning.

Immordino-Yang has both the gift for captivating readers with her research and the ability to connect this research to everyday learning and teaching. She examines true stories of learning success with relentless curiosity and an illuminating mixture of the scientific and the human.

What are feelings, and how does the brain support them? What role do feelings play in the brain's learning process? This book unpacks these crucial questions and many more, including the neurobiological, developmental, and evolutionary origins of creativity, facts and myths about mirror neurons, and how the perspective of social and affective neuroscience can inform the design of learning technologies.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • November 2015
  • ISBN 978-0-393-70981-0
  • 6.5 × 9.5 in / 208 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang has the ability to explain complex affective neurobiological research in a clear and concise way and to then translate these research findings into educational theory. . . . [T]he educator will come away from this book with a general understanding of neurobiological research, especially regarding the relationship of emotions to learning and a theoretical approach to educational interventions that should prompt him or her to develop innovations specific to individual students. I heartily recommend this book.” — PsycCRITIQUES

“[A] well written book with a gold mine of information. . . that clinicians and teachers can use to become more effective in helping clients learn new ways to solve problems and discover paths to generate change. . . . [I]t stimulates exciting possibilities.” — The Milton H. Erickson Foundation Newsletter

“Educators have long known that students’ emotional experiences greatly impact their learning. Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang offers a neurobiological account of why this may be the case. . . . Immordino-Yang is uniquely positioned to offer insights from affective neuroscience for education because of her interdisciplinary background and experiences. . . . [A] fascinating book.” — Learning and the Brain

“This week I hit the jackpot. I discovered the work of Mary Helen Immordino-Yang . . . [Her] research provides a powerful rationale for pedagogy that centralizes the emotional and imaginative lives of students.” — ImaginEd

“In Emotions, Learning, and the Brain: Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience, Mary Helen Immordino-Yang explains how our emotions help us understand didactic instruction or pedagogy and help us cement the information we are taught. The book supports the hypothesis that emotion plays a vital role in helping children apply what they have learned in school to the real world. . . . Although Immordino-Yang writes for an audience of researchers and practitioners, the book is worth reading for those who want to creatively engage adolescents.” — PsychCentral

“This book is like the planning document for the revolution of affective neuroscience, which has transformed our understanding of what makes humans tick: our drives, frailties, loves, and—through Immordino-Yang's brilliant work—how we learn. Emotion and reason are not separate, as we've figured since antiquity; they are deeply intertwined, as are the mind and body. Here, Immordino-Yang and her colleagues, including the discipline's godfather, Antonio Damasio, explain it all, with reason and passion.” — Ron Suskind, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author of Life, Animated: A Story of Sidekicks, Heroes, and Autism

“Fasten your seatbelts and step into the fast lane of twenty-first century cognitive neuroscience, emotions, and learning. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang gets straight to the heart of the matter: how and why emotions matter in teaching and learning. Emotions, Learning, and the Brain is the book we have all been waiting for: relevant, rigorous and, yes, revolutionary. It is the book every teacher and parent, every policy maker and researcher, and every citizen concerned with the future of American education should read.” — Marcelo M. Suarez-Orozco, Wasserman Dean & Distinguished Professor of Education, UCLA Grad School of Education & Information Studies

Emotions, Learning, and the Brain provides a comprehensive review of the latest research in neuroscience, which demonstrates the power of emotions in learning in every setting, from the classroom to digital environments. For decades, experimentation by psychologists has shown that emotions matter in the classroom—and matter a great deal. Immordino-Yang strengthens that evidence base with a deeper understanding of the mechanisms behind it, helping explain the critical links between emotions and learning.” — Marc A. Brackett, PhD, Director, Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence

“Mary Helen Immordino-Yang is not only a brilliant and original researcher; she also has a gift for coming up with exceptionally creative ways of looking at child and adolescent development for teachers and the general public. From winning the Cozzarelli Prize to her latest achievement in this remarkable book on affective neuroscience for educators, Immordino-Yang provides us with new lenses for understanding how emotion shapes learning.” — Kurt W. Fischer, PhD, Charles Warland Bigelow Professor and Director of the Mind, Brain, & Education Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

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