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How the Brain Learns

How the Brain Learns

Fifth Edition

October 2016 | 400 pages | Corwin

Apply the newest brain research to enhance all students’ learning 

Recent discoveries about the human brain have the power to transform the way we teach and learn. World-renowned educational neuroscience consultant David A. Sousa has helped tens of thousands of educators understand how brain research can improve teaching and learning. He continues his tradition of translating new findings into effective classroom strategies and activities in this updated version of his bestselling text. The fifth edition of How the Brain Learns integrates recent developments in neuroscience, education, and psychology and includes 

  • New information on memory systems, especially working memory capacity
  • Updated research on how the explosion of technology is affecting the brain
  • Current findings on brain organization and learning, and revised sections on hemispheric specialization
  • New evidence on how learning the arts enhances cognitive processing and creativity
  • An expanded resources section 
  • More than 150 new or updated references

Written for anyone who wants to better understand the way people learn, How the Brain Learns unlocks the mysteries of the human mind and allows educators to experience the joy of seeing students reach their full potential. 

Read David Sousa’s interview on Education Week Classroom Q&A With Larry Ferlazzo. 

“The strategies in How the Brain Learns are applicable and explained in the context of the research. The what and why are in the same place, and the book helps teachers see what they can and should do to support their students while providing scientific reasons for the strategies. Teachers are prepared to explain and share with students, principals, superintendents, parents, and colleagues.”
Kris Dreifuerst, Graduate Teaching Lecturer, Neurodevelopmental Approach to Teaching
Plymouth State University

List of Practitioner’s Corners
Preface to the Fifth Edition
Publisher’s Acknowledgments
About the Author
Looking Inside the Brain

Implications for Teaching

Why This Book Can Help Improve Teaching and Learning

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 1: Basic Brain Facts
Some Exterior Parts of the Brain

Some Interior Parts of the Brain

Neuron Development in Children

The Brain as a Novelty Seeker

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 2: How the Brain Processes Information
The Information Processing Model

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 3: Memory, Retention, and Learning
How Memory Forms

Stages and Types of Memory

Learning and Retention

Factors Affecting Retention of Learning

Learning Motor Skills

Daily Biological Rhythms Affect Teaching and Learning

Intelligence and Retrieval

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 4: The Power of Transfer
What Is Transfer?

Teaching for Transfer

Additional Thoughts About Transfer

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 5: Brain Organization and Learning
Brain Lateralization

Spoken Language Specialization

Learning to Read

Learning Mathematics

Difficulties in Learning Mathematics

Mathematics for English Language Learners

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 6: The Brain and the Arts
The Arts Are Basic to the Human Experience

Why Teach the Arts?

Impact of the Arts on Student Learning and Behavior


The Visual Arts


What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 7: Thinking Skills and Learning
Characteristics of Human Thinking

The Dimensions of Human Thinking

Revisiting Bloom’s Taxonomy of the Cognitive Domain

Other Thinking Skills Programs

What’s Coming Up?

Chapter 8: Putting It All Together
Students Should Know How Their Brains Learn

What About the Flipped Classroom?

Daily Planning

Unit Planning

Maintaining Skills for the Future



How the Brain Learns is both professional and accessible. Of all the texts I have used for courses over the years, this one gets the best reviews from students. They love the diagrams and charts that make the concepts concrete and easier to grasp, they love the pithy quotes summarizing major points along the way. (Many of those quotes have found their way into student final papers and projects in my courses – all appropriately cited too!) I personally love the way the “What Do You Know” quiz at the beginning is carried all the way through with answers revealed and explicitly pointed out as they come up in context. It makes the book more cohesive and adds to the flow of conversation and reflection. My students are always blown away with the information and section on the neuro myths. Many have been taught these myths in their other teacher courses and many lively conversations are triggered by this section. Another strength of the book is the overall progression of topics and natural flow or rhythm to the material, which adds to the comprehension and accessibility. The discussion of action research is especially appreciated as I try to include mini research projects in my courses, and it’s great to have the rational and description in the same book as the information about the brain. The Practitioner’s Corner, Classroom Connections and thought provoking-questions make the book personal and meaningful for each of my students. “

Kris Dreifuerst, Graduate Teaching Lecturer, Neurodevelopmental Approach to Teaching
Plymouth State University

“This book’s greatest strength is definitely its user friendliness. It reads easily and has good illustrations and examples of concepts. Just about every part of the book contains useful information. The Practioner’s Corners provide application opportunities. My students love it!"

Kathleen Kremer, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
Concordia University Wisconsin

Sample Materials & Chapters


Chapter 1 - Basic Brain Facts

David Anthony Sousa

David A. Sousa, EdD, is an international consultant in educational neuroscience and author of more than a dozen books that translate brain research into strategies for improving learning. He has presented to more than 200,000 educators across the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia. He has taught high school chemistry and served in administrative positions, including superintendent of schools. He was an adjunct professor of education at Seton Hall University and a visiting lecturer at Rutgers University. Dr. Sousa has edited science books and published dozens of articles in leading journals. His books have been... More About Author

Also available as a South Asia Edition.

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ISBN: 9781506346304