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  1. Gero, J.S. (Ed.)
    To explore the connection between brain and behavior in engineering design, this study measured the change in neurocognition of engineering students while they developed concept maps. Concept maps help designers organize complex ideas by illustrating components and relationships. Student concept maps were graded using a pre-established scoring method and compared to their neurocognitive activation. Results show significant correlations between performance and neurocognition. Concept map scores were positively correlated with activation in students’ prefrontal cortex. A prominent sub-region was the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), which is generally associated with divergent thinking and cognitive flexibility. Student scores were negatively correlated with measures of brain network density. The findings suggest a possible neurocognitive mechanism for better performance. More research is needed to connect brain activation to the cognitive activities that occur when designing but these results provide new evidence for the brain functions that support the development of complex ideas during design. 
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  2. ASEE (Ed.)
    The purpose of the research presented in this poster was to measure the change in neurocognitive processing that occurs from concept mapping in students’ brains. The research question is what are the effects of concept mapping on students’ neurocognition when developing design problem statements? We explored changes in students’ prefrontal cortex (PFC). The PFC is the neural basis of working memory and higher order cognitive processing, such as sustained attention, reasoning, and evaluations. Specific regions of interest in the PFC are illustrated. 
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  3. ASEE (Ed.)
    The purpose of this study was to measure the neurocognitive effects of think aloud when engineering students were designing. Thinking aloud is a commonly applied protocol in engineering design education research. The process involves students verbalizing what they are thinking as they perform a task. Students are asked to say what comes into their mind. This often includes what they are looking at, thinking, doing, and feeling. It provides insight into the student’s mental state and their cognitive processes when developing design ideas. Think aloud provides a richer understanding about how, what and why students’ design compared to solely evaluating their final product or performance. The results show that Ericsson and Simon's claim that there is no interference due to think-aloud is not supported by this study and more research is required to untangle the effect of think-aloud. 
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  4. Neuroimaging provides a relatively new approach for advancing engineering education by exploring changes in neurocognition from educational interventions. The purpose of the research described in this paper is to present the results of a preliminary study that measured students’ neurocognition while concept mapping. Engineering design is an iterative process of exploring both the problem and solution spaces. To aid students in exploring these spaces, half of the 66 engineering students who participated in the study were first asked to develop a concept map and then construct a design problem statement. The concept mapping activity significantly reduced neurocognitive activation in the students’ left prefrontal cortex (PFC) compared to students who did not receive this intervention when constructing their problem statement. The sub-region in the left PFC that elicited less activation is generally associated with analytical judgment and goal-directed planning. The group of students who completed the concept mapping activity had greater focused neurocognitive activation in their right PFC. The right PFC is often associated with divergent thinking and ill-structured representation. Patterns of functional connectivity across students’ PFC also differed between the groups. The concept mapping activity reduced the network density in students’ PFC. Lower network density is one measure of lower cognitive effort. These results provide new insight into the neurocognition of engineering students when designing and how educational interventions can change engineering students’ neurocognition. A better understanding of how interventions like concept mapping shape students’ neurocognition, and how this relates to learning, can lay the groundwork for novel advances in engineering education that support new tools and pedagogy for engineering design. 
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