Here's a short presentation at the RSA by cognitive psychologist Matthew Lieberman, promoting his book, Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, Crown Publishing (2013):
"Being overly social in the classroom is a punishable offense, yet our brains are wired to crave social connection, particularly in adolescence.
One of the founders of the field of social cognitive neuroscience, Professor Matthew Lieberman shows how we can leverage the brain's social urges to enhance learning in the classroom. The brain's network for social thinking is actually an untapped resource that has a remarkable gift for learning. Lieberman will reveal how to turn social from classroom kryptonite into a school superpower. "
Whether you lean towards social constructivist or cognitivist views of learning and teaching, it's fascinating stuff.
Audio and video are available at RSA website: http://www.thersa.org/events/audio-and-past-events/2013/making-social-a-superpower-in-the-classroom
The book is excellent by the way.
However, be careful about extrapolating conclusions too far from what the research actually tells us. Cognitive neuroscience examines individual systems of the brain at orders of magnitude lower than what we would perceive as consciousness, let alone deliberate, purposeful learning in classrooms and online environments. As Professor Daniel Willingham puts it:
"Neuroscience has been moving forward in leaps and bounds, creating excitement among scientists, educators, and average citizens alike. No doubt much of the excitement is due to the images of the brain produced by fMRIs, and PET scans. Everyone seems fascinated with images that show which areas of the brain are activated by talking, reading, calculating, etc. But what do these images really tell us? For neuroscientists, they help in piecing together the puzzle of how the brain works. For the rest of us, though, the payoff is likely to come only in the distant future, not in the next five or 10 years. Consider, for example, an 8-year-old boy who can't read. A neuroscientist could give his teacher an image of his brain and explain that the wrong areas of his brain are active when he tries to read. A literacy coach or school psychologist could give the student a 45-minute assessment and then explain to his teacher that he doesn't have a good grasp of the sounds that the letters make. As a teacher, which test results would you rather have? The brain image might be interesting, but it does not provide any information about how to help the boy read. In a nutshell, that's about where neuroscience is today on most matters related to the classroom: Very exciting research is being conducted, but it is exciting to researchers trying to figure out how the brain works. Some of it is of interest to cognitive researchers who are trying to figure out how the mind works. And virtually all of it is far from being able to guide teachers."