Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

Trend: Measuring physiological responses–including brain activity–to design stimulating, “conscious” cities

Stan­ley Park, Van­cou­ver. Cred­it: Alamy Stock Pho­to.

 

The hid­den ways that archi­tec­ture affects how you feel: An era of “neu­ro-archi­tec­ture” (BBC Future)

We shape our build­ings and after­wards our build­ings shape us,” mused Win­ston Churchill in 1943 while con­sid­er­ing the repair of the bomb-rav­aged House of Com­mons. More than 70 years on, Read the rest of this entry »

In the News: Brain Calisthenics, Bilingual Brains, Debunking Myths on Mental Illness

Let us high­light a cou­ple of insight­ful and brief arti­cles in the New York Times and a very pow­er­ful analy­sis in The New York Review of Books; they pro­vide use­ful clues about Brain Cal­is­then­ics, Bilin­gual Brains, and Debunk­ing Myths on Men­tal Ill­ness. Read the rest of this entry »

Arts and Smarts: Test Scores and Cognitive Development

(Editor’s Note: we are pleased to bring you this arti­cle thanks to our col­lab­o­ra­tion with Greater Good Mag­a­zine.)

At a time when edu­ca­tors are pre­oc­cu­pied with stan­dards, test­ing, and the bot­tom line, some researchers sug­gest the arts can boost stu­dents’ test scores; oth­ers aren’t con­vinced. Karin Evans asks, What are the arts good for?


When poet and nation­al endow­ment for the Arts Chair­man Dana Gioia gave the 2007 Com­mence­ment Address at Stan­ford Uni­ver­si­ty, he used the occa­sion to deliv­er an impas­sioned argu­ment for the val­ue of the arts and arts edu­ca­tion.

Art is an irre­place­able way of under­stand­ing and express­ing the world,” said Gioia. “There are some truths about life that can be expressed only as sto­ries, or songs, or images. Art delights, instructs, con­soles. It edu­cates our emo­tions.”

For years, arts advo­cates like Gioia have been mak­ing sim­i­lar pleas, stress­ing the intan­gi­ble ben­e­fits of the arts at a time when many Amer­i­cans are pre­oc­cu­pied with a market–driven cul­ture of enter­tain­ment, and schools are con­sumed with meet­ing fed­er­al stan­dards. Art brings joy, these advo­cates say, or it evokes our human­i­ty, or, in the words of my 10–year–old daugh­ter, “It cools kids down after all the oth­er hard stuff they have to think about.”

Bol­ster­ing the case for the arts has become increas­ing­ly nec­es­sary in recent years, as school bud­get cuts and the move toward stan­dard­ized test­ing have pro­found­ly threat­ened the role of the arts in schools. Under the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2002, the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment start­ed assess­ing school dis­tricts by their stu­dents’ scores on read­ing and math­e­mat­ics tests.

As a result, accord­ing to a study by the Cen­ter on Edu­ca­tion Pol­i­cy, school dis­tricts across the Unit­ed States increased the time they devot­ed to test­ed subjects—reading/language arts and math—while cut­ting spend­ing on non–tested sub­jects such as the visu­al arts and music. The more a school fell behind, by NCLB stan­dards, the more time and mon­ey was devot­ed to those test­ed sub­jects, with less going to the arts. The Nation­al Edu­ca­tion Asso­ci­a­tion has report­ed that the cuts fall hard­est on schools with high num­bers of minor­i­ty chil­dren.

And the sit­u­a­tion is like­ly to wors­en as state bud­gets get even tighter. Already, in a round of fed­er­al edu­ca­tion cuts for 2006 and 2007, arts edu­ca­tion nation­al­ly was slashed by $35 mil­lion. In 2008, the New York City Depart­ment of Education’s annu­al study of Read the rest of this entry »

Emotional self-regulation and Obama

Great arti­cle in the New York Times on Obama’s emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion abil­i­ties:
The Cool Fac­tor: Nev­er Let Them See You Sweat

- “We even ele­vate such equi­lib­ri­um to the super­hu­man: calm, as applied to No Dra­ma Oba­ma, often comes linked to the mod­i­fi­er “preter­nat­ur­al.”

- “But the calm tem­pera­ment is not so super­hu­man, nor is it entire­ly the gift of the cho­sen few. It can be cul­ti­vat­ed, even as the world cleaves around us.”

- “So how do we get there with­out a steady diet of beta block­ers and Xanax? Calm, per se, doesn’t appear in the tax­on­o­my of those who study per­son­al­i­ty and tem­pera­ment.”

As the arti­cle lat­er dis­clos­es, this abil­i­ty is often called “emo­tion­al self-reg­u­la­tion” by cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists, and its devel­op­ment can assist­ed with tools such as med­i­ta­tion, cog­ni­tive ther­a­py and biofeed­back.

Per­haps one day this will be part of everybody’s school cur­ricu­lum and lead­er­ship pro­grams?

Training Young Brains to Behave

Great arti­cle in the New York Times titled Train­ing Young Brains to Behave. A cou­ple of quotes:

- “But just as biol­o­gy shapes behav­ior, so behav­ior can accel­er­ate biol­o­gy. And a small group of edu­ca­tion­al and cog­ni­tive sci­en­tists now say that men­tal exer­cis­es of a cer­tain kind can teach chil­dren to become more self-pos­sessed at ear­li­er ages, reduc­ing stress lev­els at home and improv­ing their expe­ri­ence in school. Researchers can test this abil­i­ty, which they call exec­u­tive func­tion, and they say it is more strong­ly asso­ci­at­ed with school suc­cess than I.Q.”

- “We know that the pre­frontal cor­tex is not ful­ly devel­oped until the 20s, and some peo­ple will ask, Read the rest of this entry »

About SharpBrains

As seen in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, BBC News, CNN, Reuters and more, SharpBrains is an independent market research firm tracking health and performance applications of brain science.

Follow us and Engage via…

twitter_logo_header
RSS Feed

Search for anything brain-related in our article archives

Enter Your Email to receive Sharp­Brains free, monthly eNewslet­ter:

Join more than 50,000 Sub­scribers and stay informed and engaged.