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TitleDo the images of neuronal pathways in the human central nervous system show feed-back ? a comparative study in fifteen countries
Author(s)Clément, Pierre
Lassaad, Mouelhi
Kochkar, Mohamed
Thiaw, Mame Seyni
Ndniaye, Valdiodio
Jeanbart, Paula
Horvath, Daniel
Ferreira, Cláudia
Carvalho, Graça Simões de
KeywordsHuman brain
School textbooks
Issue dateJun-2008
PublisherInternational Council of Associations for Science Education (ICASE)
JournalScience Education International
Citation"Science Education International". ISSN 1450-104X. 19:2 (June 2008) 117-132.
Abstract(s)In the human brain, the neuronal pathways are networks which support our learning, memory and thought, and which work with permanent feedbacks. However, only 19 % of illustrations of these neuronal pathways, in the 55 analysed school textbooks coming from 15 countries, were showing feedbacks. The neuronal pathways related to movements were generally introduced by linear spinal cord reflexes, and sometimes mostly reduced to reflexes. In consequence, in most countries, the scientific knowledge taught with these images of neuronal pathways was linked with an implicit ideology: a clear behaviourism associated with reductionism, and even sometimes with innatism or spiritualism. Two thirds of the few images with feedbacks were related to vegetative functions: the neuro-hormonal control of female and male reproduction, and of heart and breathing rhythms. Nevertheless, even for these vegetative controls there was not any feedback in several of the 55 analysed textbooks. Only in three countries, the double innervation (gamma and alpha) of striated muscles, with the regulatory function of the neuro-muscular spindle, was illustrated, with only one image in each of the three corresponding textbooks. Few images illustrated neuronal pathways in the brain, and only exceptionally as the neuronal networks (with feedbacks) which are the supports of our memory and of our thought. The persistence of the same kind of images in school textbooks of these contrasted countries suggest that the conceptions of human brain are less linked to national socio-cultural contexts rather than to international dominant ideologies.
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DCILM - Artigos (Papers)

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