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Brain Scientists Identify Links between Arts, Learning

Arts education influences learning and other areas of cognition and may deserve a more prominent place in schools, according to a wave of recent neuroscience research.One recent study found that children who receive music instruction for just 15 months show strengthened connections in musically relevant brain areas and perform better on associated tasks, compared with students who do not learn an instrument.

A separate study found that children who receive training to improve their focus and attention perform better not only on attention tasks but also on intelligence tests. Some researchers suggest that arts training might similarly affect a wide range of cognitive domains. Educators and neuroscientists gathered recently in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to discuss the increasingly detailed picture of how arts education changes the brain, and how to translate that research to education policy and the classroom. Many participants referred to the results of Dana Foundation-funded research by cognitive neuroscientists from seven leading universities over three years, released in 2008.

“Art must do something to the mind and brain. What is that? How would we be able to detect that? asked Barry Gordon, a behavioral neurologist and cognitive neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins University, who spoke May 8 during the “Learning and the Brain” conference in Washington, D.C. “Art, I submit to you without absolute proof, can improve the power of our minds. However, this improvement is hard to detect.”

Study links music, brain changes

Among the scientists trying to detect such improvement, Ellen Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College, and Gottfried Schlaug, a professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, presented research at the “Learning, Arts, and the Brain summit May 6 in Baltimore. Their work measured, for the first time, changes to the brain as a result of music training.

For four years, Winner and Schlaug followed children ages 9 to 11, some of whom Read the rest of this entry »

Jogging our Brains for Brain Vitality, Healthy Aging-and Intelligence!

Stroop Test

Quick: say the color in which each word in this graphic is displayed (don’t just read the word!):

Here you have a round-up of some great recent articles on memory, aging, and cognitive abilities such as self-control:

1) How to Boost Your Willpower (New York Times).

– “The video watchers were later given a concentration test in which they were asked to identify the color in which words were displayed. (Note: now you see why we started with that brain exercise…) The word  for instance, might appear in blue ink. The video watchers who had stifled their responses did the worst on the test, suggesting that their self-control had already been depleted by the film challenge.”

– “Finally, some research suggests that people struggling with self-control should start small. A few studies show that people who were instructed for two weeks to make small changes like improving their posture or brushing their teeth with their opposite hand improved their scores on laboratory tests of self-control. The data aren’t conclusive, but they do suggest that the quest for self-improvement should start small. A vow to stop swearing, to make the bed every day or to give up just one food may be a way to strengthen your self-control, giving you more willpower reserves for bigger challenges later.”

Comment: learning, building abilities, are processes that require practice and growing levels of difficulty. Like training our muscles in the gym. So the advice to start small and progressively do more makes sense. Many times the enemy of learning is the stress and anxiety we provoke by trying to do too many things at the same time…

2) Jogging Your Memory (Newsweek) Thanks Chris for alerting us!

– “No one should expect miracles soon, if at all. But the deeper scientists peer into the workings of memory, the better they understand Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Teasers with a Neuroscience angle

Stroop Test Quick! say aloud the color you see in every word, DON”T simply read the word.
The Stroop test is used in neuropsychological evaluations to measure mental vitality and flexibility, since performing well requires strong impulse-control capability.

This is one of the Top 10 Brain Teasers and Games we profile here.

Want more teasers? You can check our collection here.

Enjoy.

Brain Teaser for the Frontal Lobes: Tipping the Scales

Here is a new brain teaser from puzzle master Wes Carroll.

Tipping the Scales

free brain teasers for frontal lobes

Question:
The top two scales are in perfect balance. How many diamonds will be needed to balance the bottom set?

This puzzle works your executive functions in your frontal lobes by using your pattern recognition, hypothesis testing, and logic.
ANSWER:

Four diamonds

SOLUTION:

First add up the number of clubs in the first two scales (5). Then count how many clubs are in the bottom scale (5). The do the same with the spades, which gets you 5 and 5. There are 4 diamonds in the top two balanced scales. Therefore, it must take 4 diamonds to balance the third scale since all the other measurements are the same.

 

More brain teaser games:

Sunday Afternoon Quiz

Here’s a quick quiz to test your memory and thinking skills which should work out your temporal and frontal lobes. See how you do!

  1. Name the one sport in which neither the spectators nor the participants know the score or the leader until the contest ends.
  2. What famous North American landmark is constantly moving backward?
  3. Of all vegetables, only two can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons. All other vegetables must be replanted every year. What are the only two perennial vegetables?
  4. What fruit has its seeds on the outside?
  5. In many liquor stores, you can buy pear brandy, with a real pear inside the bottle. The pear is whole and ripe, and the bottle is genuine; it hasn’t been cut in any way. How did the pear get inside the bottle?
  6. Only three words in Standard English begin with the letters “dw” and they are all common words. Name two of them.
  7. There are 14 punctuation marks in English grammar. Can you name at least half of them?
  8. Name the one vegetable or fruit that is never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form except fresh.
  9. Name 6 or more things that you can wear on your feet beginning with the letter “S.”

 —

Answers To Quiz:

  1.  The one sport in which neither the spectators, nor the participants, know the score or the leader until the contest ends: boxing
  2.  The North American landmark constantly moving backward: Niagara Falls (the rim is worn down about two and a half feet each year because of the millions of gallons of water that rush over it every minute.)
  3. Only two vegetables that can live to produce on their own for several growing seasons: asparagus and rhubarb.
  4. The fruit with its seeds on the outside: strawberry.
  5. How did the pear get inside the brandy bottle? It grew inside the bottle. (The bottles are placed over pear buds when they are small and are wired in place on the tree. The bottle is left in place for the entire growing season. When the pears are ripe, they are snipped off at the stems.)
  6. Three English words beginning with “dw”: dwarf, dwell, and dwindle.
  7. Fourteen punctuation marks in English grammar: period, comma, colon, semicolon, dash, hyphen, apostrophe, question mark, exclamation point, quotation marks, brackets, parenthesis, braces, and ellipses.
  8. The only vegetable or fruit never sold frozen, canned, processed, cooked, or in any other form but fresh: lettuce.
  9. Six or more things you can wear on your feet beginning with “s”: shoes, socks, sandals, sneakers, slippers, skis, skates, snowshoes, stockings, stilts.

 

More brain teaser games:

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