This brief relates to the first seminar in a series of three around the theme of ‘The Educated Brain’. Each research seminar includes talks from leading researchers and roundtable discussions about the links between research, policy and practice. Presentations at the first seminar on infancy and early childhood focused on where interdisciplinary research can make progress in our understanding, with a focus on the developing brain of young children including: scanning young brains; examining the concept of ‘school readiness’; learning through play; and learning in a stressful environment. Research shows innovative methodologies and data collection being applied in studies such as tracking children’s movements through play and research-informed practitioner tools such as the ‘school readiness questionnaire’. We focused on some areas for policy and practice that may be informed by developing research in education and neuroscience.