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Conference on Education
First Born Conference
10th Annual Conference On Education

The LANL Foundation’s commitment to investing in human potential begins with the vision of engaging northern New Mexico communities in meeting long-standing regional needs and educational excellence. For the past 10 years the LANL Foundation has hosted free, annual conferences with the goal of translating current educational and nonprofit best practices into learning tools for northern New Mexico communities and service providers.

Childhood Learning and the Brain: Making the Connection

The LANL Foundation hosted its 10th Annual Conference on Education July 31, 2006 at La Fonda on the Plaza Hotel in Santa Fe. This year’s conference was titled “Childhood Learning and the Brain: Making the Connection” and explored the role of brain-mind research in increasing the learning potential of children, teens and young adults.

With recent advances in the study and understanding of neuroscience and brain development, the science of learning is being bridged by neuroscientists, psychologists, computer scientists and educationalists. Through cutting-edge information technology, multidisciplinary teams of experts are working nationally to identify cognitive strategies and teaching methods that will complement the brain’s natural development while promoting the formation of highly efficient neural connections.

Dr. Alison Gopnik, Professor of Psychology at the University of California at Berkeley and co-author of The Scientist in the Crib; Dr. George McCloskey, Professor of Psychology at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine; and Dr. Abigail Baird, Professor of Developmental Neuroscience at Dartmouth College, presented their important and groundbreaking work in cognitive development and learning.

Conference session speaker Dr. Alison Gopnik is an internationally recognized leader in the study of children’s learning and her research explores how young children come to know about the world around them. Her work is informed by the “theory theory”—the idea that children develop and change intuitive theories of the world similar to the way that scientists do. She is currently concentrating on young children’s causal knowledge and learning across physical, biological and psychological domains. In collaboration with computer scientists, Dr. Gopnik and her colleagues are working to help explain how children are able to learn causal structure from patterns of data, which demonstrates that young children have much more powerful learning mechanisms than was previously supposed. Dr. Gopnik discussed her research during a session is entitled “A Child’s Mind: How Children Learn and What They Tell Us About the Mind”.

Dr. George McCloskey is a national expert in the neuropsychology of learning, cognition and executive function, neuropsychological assessment, cognitive and academic assessment instruments, and classroom interventions for cognitive process problems. As a certified school psychologist, Dr. McCloskey works with children diagnosed with ADHD, executive dysfunction, memory problems, and reading, written expression and math disabilities. He shared his knowledge during a session entitled “The Role of Executive Function in Childhood Learning and Behavior”.

Dr. Abigail Baird specializes in the application of neuro-imaging techniques in the study of the developing adolescent brain. She examines the neurophysiological mechanisms that may underlie a teen’s behavioral inhibition, decision making, and abstract thinking. Her research exploring adolescent peer relationships, reasoning, affective processing, intergroup relations, juvenile death penalty and justice, and structural/functional changes in the developing brain has been widely published. Her research has also supported the connection between adolescent brain science and behavior in relation to the issue of death penalty cases involving minors. She presented her research during a session entitled “The Teen Brain and Behavioral Inhibition, Decision Making and Learning”.

Featured plenary keynote speaker Lt. Governor Diane Denish shared her remarks on First Born and the importance of creating a state where our children and youth are safe, healthy, and well educated.

Dr. Alison Gopnik, Dr. George McCloskey, and Dr. Abigail
Baird speak at the 10th Annual Conference on Education (left to
Dr. Abigail Baird Paper
Dr. Alison Gopnik Presentation
Dr. George McCloskey

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