Research Article

Exploration of Teacher-Student Neural Coupling Occurring During the Teaching and Learning of Science

Richard Lamb 1 * , David Fortus 2, Troy Sadler 3, Knut Neumann 4, Amanda Kavner 5, Leonard Annetta 6
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1 East Carolina University Neurocognition Science Laboratory, USA2 Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel3 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA4 Leibniz Institite for Science and Mathematics Education, Germany5 Famingdale State College State University of New York, USA6 East Carolina Univeristy, USA* Corresponding Author
Educational Innovations and Emerging Technologies, 1(1), December 2021, 15-31,
Published: 20 November 2021
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Verbal communication to relay information between students and the teacher, i.e., talk, lies at the heart of all science classrooms. This study investigated and began to characterize the neurological basis for the talk between science teachers and students in terms of speaker-listener coupling in a naturalistic setting. Speaker-listener coupling is the time-locked moment in which speaker vocalizations result in activity in the listeners brain. This activity is highly predictive and tightly ties to listener understanding. The design for this study was an observational stimulus-response study using neuroimaging data obtained from talk sessions between a teacher and a student. Results were obtained using a functional near-infrared spectrometer and an artificial neural network model. Examination of the data suggested that speaker-listener coupling occurs between a student and a teacher during successfully understood verbal communications. This study promotes further research into the exploration of how individual interactions between persons (speakers and listeners) via talk are perceived and influence individual cognition. Study outcomes suggest coupled brains create new knowledge, integrate practices and content, and verbal and nonverbal communication systems which are constrained at two levels the environmental level and the speaker listener level. The simplicity of brain-to-brain coupling as a reference system may simplify the understanding of behaviors seen during the learning of science in the classroom.


Lamb, R., Fortus, D., Sadler, T., Neumann, K., Kavner, A., & Annetta, L. (2021). Exploration of Teacher-Student Neural Coupling Occurring During the Teaching and Learning of Science. Educational Innovations and Emerging Technologies, 1(1), 15-31.