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Print This Page A researcher watches a 4-year-old participate in an attention training program, which includes the exercises shown in the inset.
The children learn to control a cat to keep it out of the rain upper leftto go to the grass rather than to the mud upper right and to catch a duck that swims in a pond.
Image courtesy of Michael I. Posner Monday, September 14, By: Does education in the arts transfer to seemingly unrelated cognitive abilities?
Researchers are finding evidence that it does. If there were a surefire way to improve your brain, would you try it? Recent research offers a possibility with much better, science-based support: Furthermore, this strengthening likely helps explain the effects of arts training on the brain and cognitive performance that have been reported in several scientific studies, such as those presented in May at a neuroeducation summit at Johns Hopkins University co-sponsored by the Dana Foundation.
We know that the brain has a system of neural pathways dedicated to attention. We know that training these attention networks improves general measures of intelligence.
And we can be fairly sure that focusing our attention on learning and performing an art—if we practice frequently and are truly engaged—activates these same attention networks. We therefore would expect focused training in the arts to improve cognition generally.
The linchpin in this equation is the attention system. Attention plays a crucial role in learning and memory, and its importance in cognitive performance is undisputed.
We all know this intuitively, and plenty of strong scientific data back it up. The idea that training in the arts improves cognition generally really is not so bold within the context of what we call activity-dependent plasticity, a basic tenet of brain function.
It means that the brain changes in response to what you do. Put another way, behavior shapes and sculpts brain networks: Perhaps nowhere is this more evident than in your attention networks. Such a relationship is difficult to confirm scientifically because there are so many variables at work; scientists have only begun to look at this relationship in a systematic, rigorous fashion.
This observation set off a wave of marketing hype that continues to this day. Despite numerous efforts, however, scientists have not reliably replicated the phenomenon. More recent attempts to link arts training with general improvements in cognition have relied on a different approach.
Researchers have focused on longer periods of engaged participation and practice in arts training rather than simple exposure to music. For example, inE. Glenn Schellenberg of the University of Toronto at Mississauga published results from a randomized, controlled study showing that the IQ scores of 72 children who were enrolled in a yearlong music training program increased significantly compared with 36 children who received no training and 36 children who took drama lessons.
The IQ scores of children taking drama lessons did not increase, but these children did improve more than the other groups on ratings of selected social skills. They did not find the same changes in the control group. The scientists also found improvements in musically relevant motor and auditory skills, a phenomenon called near transfer.
In this case, the improvements did not transfer to measures of cognition less related to music—termed far transfer. We do not know why far transfer to IQ, for example was found in the Schellenberg study and not in this one.
Taken as a whole, the findings to date tell us that music training can indeed change brain circuitry and, in at least some circumstances, can improve general cognition.
But they leave unsettled the question of under what circumstances training in one cognitive area reliably transfers to improvements in other cognitive skills.Shop for nature art from the world's greatest living artists.
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“The history of Cubism consists chiefly of the ongoing battle between the two dimensional plane and three-dimensional nature, between the artists painting construction and the emotional contact with nature.”. A letter published in in the journal Nature held that college students exposed to classical music had improved spatial reasoning skills, 2 which are important to success in math and science.
This observation set off a wave of . Dec 15, · Want your child to get the most out of making art? Let her create in her own way at her own pace. Why Art and Creativity Are Important.
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Indeed. Nature is an art. It's a beautiful question! Our touch with nature makes the whole world kin. Matthew Arnold has rightly said that: "Nature, with equal mind, sees all her sons at play, see man control the wind, the wind sweep man away.".