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A recent study by researchers from Experimental Psychology and Royal Holloway, has identified regions of the brain involved in computing mistakes in other people's understanding, a key process in guiding students' learning.

New insights into the psychology of teaching

In a study published in the Journal of Neuroscience, and reported by BBC news, volunteers were asked to act as a teacher whilst they underwent an MRI scan. While in the scanner the ‘teacher’ observed the responses of another volunteer, acting as a student, playing a computer game together. The task of the teacher in the scanner was to give the student volunteer feedback. The researchers found the teachers' anterior cingulate cortex signalled how wrong the beliefs of the student were during the game. "For teachers, understanding what your students believe is a vital part of the teaching process, allowing meaningful and useful feedback to be provided", said Dr. Matthew Apps, who ran the study at Royal Holloway, but is now at Oxford. "Our study has identified some of the key structures and computations in the human brain that are involved when one person is teaching another. ”These findings provide the foundations for future research exploring how the brain works when people are teaching others." Professor Narender Ramnani, from the Department of Psychology at Royal Holloway, said: "Our formative years are often shaped by interactions with our teachers, but very little is known about the mechanisms that underpin the teaching process in the human brain "These findings have implications for understanding how the brains of teachers compute errors in their students' understanding, and how teachers provide feedback that guides student learning