Donders Education Hackathon: from Neuroscience to Education in 24 hours

This post is also available in Dutch.

Cognitive Neuroscience has much potential for education: because if the brain is the seat of learning, then surely knowledge about the brain should therefore help education? This is both hype and the truth. In collaboration with others, we at the Donders aim to lessen the hype and promote the real contributions at the Donders Education Hackathon.


The hype concerning ‘brain-based learning’ often comes down to already known psychological and educational theories, reformulated as brain findings (e.g. ‘Neuroscience shows that stress hinders creativity, learning and memory’). However, brain images and stories that tend to lead to reformulations, sell (Beck, 2010). The next time you see such a claim, please consider whether it sounds just as convincing and novel without the brain-words.

If, after stripping claim from brain-words, it still sounds convincing, you may have found a potential gem. As there is much untapped potential in neuroscience for the purpose of education. For examples of potential gems, see the posts on vocabulary learning and memory. Distracted by the hype, many of these gems however remain to be excavated.

This lack of excavation is part of the reason why we are organizing the first Donders Education Hackathon (November 26-27). During the Hackathon, teams of neuroscientists, education scientists and professionals, programmers, and designers will attempt to build educational and gaming apps for our anticipated needs, based on neuroscience knowledge and principles. Interested in joining? Please click for more details and visit our Facebook event. Together, we can fight the spread of brain-myths and help bring some real brain-based learning into the classroom!


Frank Leoné is assistant professor on brain-inspired educational games at the Donders and founder of Marbelous Minds, his serious gaming and gamification start-up.

more details :

Beck, D. M. (2010). The appeal of the brain in the popular press.

Edited by : Roselyne, Marpessa

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