African-American woman types while wearing headset

Kruger receives NSF grant to study technological learning

Associate Professor Ann Cale Kruger is part of a research team that received a three-year, $970,704 grant from the National Science Foundation to investigate how the human brain has evolved to support technological learning.

Kruger will be working with faculty at Emory University and Georgia State University’s Center for Behavioral Neuroscience on the project, which seeks to understand the evolutionary origins and contemporary processes that come into play when humans acquire technological skills.

“Our study will use neuroimaging techniques to describe the regions of the brain that are most involved when modern day humans learn to use a tool,” Kruger explained. “We will look at people learning one of the oldest human technologies – stone tool making – and one of our newest – writing software.”

Kruger and her team will also compare the data they collect on human brains to archival data of chimpanzee brains to see if it sheds light on how the human brain evolved over time.

All this information could help educators develop lesson plans that are more aligned with how people learn new skills.

“We are hoping to learn more about the teaching and learning of technology and about where and how the brain changes when we learn,” Kruger said. “This can have implications for the best practices in education, particularly in STEM fields.”