Louis Cozolino

Louis Cozolino Ph.D. (Born April 16, 1953)

Education and Research
Louis Cozolino is a psychologist and a professor at Pepperdine. Until recently Cozolino’s work has focused on neuroscience as it relates to psychology. He has researched schizophrenia, the long-term effect of stress and child abuse. He holds degrees in philosophy and theology from Harvard University and State University of New York, as well as a doctoral in clinical psychology from UCLA.

Neuroscience of Education
Cozolino's most recent book focused on the neuroscience of education. His background and experience in psychology are apparent in his writing. Cozolino interwove references to human development; most specifically attachment theory and the social brain, at their relationship to education. However, the conclusions he makes are firmly grounded in the neuroscience and his references to the increase of connections that are apparent in the gray matter of the brain. According to Cozolino, gray matter consists primarily of neuronal cell bodies and it is believed that learning occurs through the changes in connectivity among neurons in response to stimulation.
Cozolino believes parent-child relationships are what shape the connections within the brain. His belief is that “Teaching is a social, interpersonal, attachment-based endeavor…” and if children do not form a child-parent attachment then it negatively impacts a child’s ability to learn. That is why the social connection and attachment of child to a teacher is a strong predictor of the connections (learning) that will take place. Brains grow best in the context of supportive relationships and low levels of stress.

Learning through Play, Stories & Song
Play is of particular importance because it stimulates all regions of the brain. Play also stimulates the biochemical’s associated with social connectivity, feelings of well-being and a sense of accomplishment. Cozolino states, “Play serves many important roles in social learning and the solidification of group structure.”
Stories and songs enable people (especially children) to recall large amounts of unconnected information by placing them in a narrative. Our brains have evolved “to possess a limitless storage capacity for stories and songs.”

In summary, Cozolino’s book and research describes learning using complex set of factors that demonstrate the interwoven folds of mind, brain and body. It blends cognitive, behavioral, social , experiential, discover learning and interpersonal relationships. There is no one size fits all in learning. Every experience we have impacts our brain matter and therefore our cognitive abilities. Teachers have an opportunity to positively impact students. Through positive child-teacher attachment teachers are able to make a difference in the child’s present and future. By opening the door to learning in the early years of development there is an increase in neuron connections (learning) and that greatly alters the path of a child that didn’t have the opportunity to form a “good enough” child-parent attachment.

Important Works
  • 2002): The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy: Building and Rebuilding the Human Brain', ' WW Norton & Company, New York.
  • (2004): The Making of a Therapist: A Practical Guide for the Inner Journey, WW Norton & Company, New York, W W Norton page.
  • (2006): The Neuroscience of Human Relationships: Attachment and the Developing Social Brain., WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2008): The Healthy Aging Brain: Sustaining Attachment, Attaining Wisdom, WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2010): "The Neuroscience of Psychotherapy, 2nd edition, Healing the Social Brain", WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page
  • (2013): "The Neuroscience of Education, Optimizing Attachment & Learning in the Classroom", WW Norton & Company, New York. W W Norton page

Additional References