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  1. ASCE (Ed.)
    The research presented in this paper explores the effect of concept maps on students’ neurocognition when constructing engineering problem statements. In total, 66 engineering students participated in the experiment. Half of the students were asked to create a concept map illustrating all of the systems and stakeholders represented in a building on campus. The other half of students were not asked to draw a concept map. Both groups were then asked to construct an engineering problem statement about improvements to the building. While performing the problem statement task, their neurocognitive activation in the prefrontal cortex (PFC) was measured using a non-intrusive neuroimaging technique called functional near-infrared spectroscopy. The students that were asked to complete the concept mapping task required less cognitive effort to formulate and analyze their problem statements. The specific regions that were less activated were regions of the brain generally associated with working memory and problem evaluation. These results provide new insight into the changes in mental processing that occurs when using tools like concept maps and may provide helpful techniques for students to structure engineering problems. 
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