Mar 10, 2011 by Bill Jenkins, Ph.D.

Time in learning

As the old verse goes, "to everything, there is a season." We all know that there’s a time to live, a time to die, a time to plant, and a time to reap. At the Temporal Dynamics of Learning Center (TDLC) at UCSD, they are pursuing a deep understanding of "a time to learn." Research at the TDLC is targeted toward achieving an integrated understanding of the role of time and timing in learning, across multiple scales, brain systems, and social systems. The scientific goal of the center is therefore to understand the temporal dynamics of learning, and apply this understanding to improve educational practice.

What are the practical implications for education of such research? According to the TDLC, "Learning depends on the fine-scale structure of the timing between stimuli, response, and reward. The brain is exquisitely sensitive to the temporal structure of sensory experience." ( Read more about Why Time Matters at the TDLC website.) As educators, the better our understanding of the nature of timing in learning, the more effective we will be at designing and implementing optimal learning environments and situations. The site goes on to say, "By investigating the temporal dynamics of learning we can change the capacity of children to learn, as well as change the environment to aid in learning."

Learn more about the TDLC at their website,

In the February 2009 edition of the TDLC newsletter, On Time, the Center announced the development of Educators Networks tasked with translating the latest findings in neuroscience research into classroom practice. The networks will be "made up of exemplary classroom teachers who will advise and provide information to TDLC scientists on areas that are ripe for research in the classroom." For further information about these groups or to suggest individuals for participation, contact Doris Alvarez at