Sixth Form students studying brain structure and function in A-Level Psychology lessons shared their creativity and talents with classmates to bring fun into online lessons and deepen academic learning.

In their Biopsychology topic, Upper Sixth students learnt about localisation of brain function; the differences between the left and right hemispheres; split-brain research; brain plasticity, and functional recovery.

To begin, they created a brain-themed Christmas decoration as a homework, which increased their familiarity with the basic geography of the brain.

Returning to their remote classrooms in the new year, students have learnt about the amazing ability of the brain to change and adapt because of experience and new learning , otherwise known as ‘plasticity’.

For instance, research by Boyke et al. (2008) found evidence that learning a new skill – such as juggling – could increase brain plasticity in 60 year-olds. The study found increases in grey matter in the visual cortex, although when practicing stopped, these changes reversed. Students had fun learning to juggle in class, to reinforce their knowledge.

They then went on to learn about Elbert et al. (1995) research which looks into differences in the brains of string instrument musicians and non-musicians. The motor cortex – which regulates voluntary movements – and the somatosensory cortex – which processes sensory information such as touch – are larger in the right hemispheres of musicians who play left-handed string instruments. As a lead in to this research area, Trinity’s Music Captain played Walton’s Viola Concerto, 1st movement, for her fellow psychology students

“Creative teaching approaches such as these – which engage the student intellectually and emotionally – embed information in the students’ memories, making future recall much easier. They also help to bring some much needed levity to online learning and help forge social connections that cheer everyone through lockdown,” says Mr Heaton.

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