The Relevance of Neuroscience 
to Understanding Achievement in 
Special Needs Children

Authored by: James P. Byrnes , Jenifer Taylor Eaton

Handbook of Educational Psychology and Students with Special Needs

Print publication date:  February  2020
Online publication date:  February  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138295421
eBook ISBN: 9781315100654
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the relevance of neuroscientific findings for understanding (a) the development of mathematics and readings skills, and (b) the learning difficulties faced by children with special needs. The first part of the chapter examines how certain kinds of neuroscientific finding can inform psychological theories and the need to make a distinction between a biological level of analysis and a psychological analysis of some phenomenon. The second part of the chapter relies on the analysis of the first part to examine findings that are relevant to understanding the learning challenges of children diagnosed with dyslexia, mathematical disability, autism spectrum disorder, and attention deficit disorder. In the concluding section, the need to avoid (a) overinterpreting neuroscientific findings, (b) giving too much weight to neuroscientific findings, and (c) falling prey to pessimistic biological determinism is discussed.

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