Surviving COVID-19: The Neuroscience of Smart Working and Distance Learning

Giuseppe Riva, Brenda K. Wiederhold, Fabrizia Mantovani

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaArticolo in rivistapeer review

1 Citazioni (Scopus)


The persistence of the coronavirus-caused respiratory disease (COVID-19) and the related restrictions to mobility and social interactions are forcing a significant portion of students and workers to reorganize their daily activities to accommodate the needs of distance learning and agile work (smart working). What is the impact of these changes on the bosses/teachers' and workers/students' experience? This article uses recent neuroscience research findings to explore how distance learning and smart working impact the following three pillars that reflect the organization of our brain and are at the core of school and office experiences: (a) the learning/work happens in a dedicated physical place; (b) the learning/work is carried out under the supervision of a boss/professor; and (c) the learning/work is distributed between team members/classmates. For each pillar, we discuss its link with the specific cognitive processes involved and the impact that technology has on their functioning. In particular, the use of videoconferencing affects the functioning of Global Positioning System neurons (neurons that code our navigation behavior), mirror neurons, self-Attention networks, spindle cells, and interbrain neural oscillations. These effects have a significant impact on many identity and cognitive processes, including social and professional identity, leadership, intuition, mentoring, and creativity. In conclusion, just moving typical office and learning processes inside a videoconferencing platform, as happened in many contexts during the COVID-19 pandemic, can in the long term erode corporate cultures and school communities. In this view, an effective use of technology requires us to reimagine how work and teaching are done virtually, in creative and bold new ways.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)79-85
Numero di pagine7
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2021


  • Attention
  • COVID-19
  • Coronavirus Infections
  • E-learning
  • Education, Distance
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Learning
  • Memory, Episodic
  • Mirror Neurons
  • Neural Pathways
  • Neurons
  • Pandemics
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Spatial Behavior
  • Spatial Navigation
  • Students
  • Teleworking
  • Videoconferencing
  • agile work
  • distance learning
  • neuroscience
  • smart working


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