Sharp Brains: Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Neuroplasticity, Brain Fitness and Cognitive Health News

Icon

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 »

Are Schools (Cognitively) Nutritive for Children’s Complex Thinking?

Today we host a very stim­u­lat­ing essay on the impor­tance of prob­lem-solv­ing and encour­ag­ing com­plex game-play­ing for children’s com­plete “cog­ni­tive nutri­tion”. Enjoy!

——————–

Children’s Com­plex Think­ing

– By Tom O’Brien and Chris­tine Wal­lach

Pop over to your neigh­bor­hood school and vis­it some class­rooms. Is what’s hap­pen­ing cog­ni­tive­ly nutri­tive? That is, does it sat­is­fy present needs and pro­vide nour­ish­ment for the future health and devel­op­ment of children’s think­ing?

Or is it puni­tive, with lit­tle con­cern for present nour­ish­ment and future health and devel­op­ment?

The Genevan psy­chol­o­gist and researcher Her­mi­na Sin­clair said, Read the rest of this entry »

Learning & The Brain Conference: discount for SharpBrains readers

San Francisco Golden Gate BridgeCon­text: Last Feb­ru­ary we had the chance to attend a great con­fer­ence on how brain research is influ­enc­ing edu­ca­tion. High­ly rec­om­mend­ed. Car­o­line wrote our impres­sions, sum­ma­rized as “It was a fas­ci­nat­ing mix of neu­ro­sci­en­tists and edu­ca­tors talk­ing with and lis­ten­ing to each oth­er. Some top­ics were meant to be applied today, but many were food for thought — insight on where sci­ence and edu­ca­tion are head­ed and how they influ­ence each oth­er”. See some of our take-aways below.

Announce­ment: the 2008 edi­tion of this con­fer­ence, titled Using Brain Research to Enhance Learn­ing, Atten­tion & Mem­o­ry For Edu­ca­tors, Par­ents and Clin­i­cians, will take place in San Fran­cis­co, on Feb­ru­ary 7–9th, 2008. The orga­niz­ers have kind­ly invit­ed me to deliv­er a lec­ture on Inter­ven­tions to Sharp­en Minds, as part of the Brain Plas­tic­i­ty & Atten­tion track. I will pro­vide an overview of the sci­ence behind com­put­er-based cog­ni­tive train­ing inter­ven­tions and dis­cuss a num­ber of research-based pro­grams that are being used today. Let me know if you are plan­ning to attend!

Reg­is­tra­tion fees: the gen­er­al reg­is­tra­tion fees are $495 per per­son, if you reg­is­ter before Jan­u­ary 25th, 2008.

Spe­cial Dis­count for Sharp­Brains read­ers: you can reg­is­ter for $450 before that date,  mak­ing sure to write
SharpBrains1 in the com­ments sec­tion of How did you hear about the con­fer­ence? in this Reg­is­tra­tion Page.

To learn more about the con­fer­ence: Read the rest of this entry »

Brain Exercise and Fitness: September Monthly Digest

Crossword PuzzleFol­low­ing our July and August edi­tions, here you have our Month­ly Digest of the Most Pop­u­lar Blog Posts. Today, Octo­ber 2nd, we will list the most pop­u­lar Sep­tem­ber posts. You can con­sid­er it your month­ly Brain Exer­cise Mag­a­zine.

(Also, remem­ber that you can sub­scribe to receive our RSS feed, check our Top­ics sec­tion, and sub­scribe to our month­ly newslet­ter at the top of this page).

Mar­ket News

Edu­ca­tion, Train­ing, Health events: some events I will blog about/ speak at over the next 2-weeks.

Brain Fit­ness and SharpBrains.com in the Press: includ­ing a great Wash­ing­ton Post arti­cle.

Brains Way Smarter Than Ours (and yours, prob­a­bly): roundup of rel­e­vant news, includ­ing some Awards.

News you can use

10 (Sur­pris­ing) Mem­o­ry Improve­ment Tips: on the rela­tion­ship between stress and mem­o­ry.

Judith Beck: Train Your Brain to Think Like a Thin Per­son: a cog­ni­tive ther­a­py pio­neer tells us about the lat­est appli­ca­tion of brain train­ing: diets.

Brain Well­ness: Train Your Brain to Be Hap­pi­er: our essay to par­tic­i­pate in LifeTwo’s Hap­pi­ness week.

Research

11 Neu­ro­sci­en­tists Debunk a Com­mon Myth about Brain Train­ing: sum­ma­ry of our 11 orig­i­nal inter­views with lead­ing neu­ro­sci­en­tists and cog­ni­tive psy­chol­o­gists.

Neu­ro­plas­tic­i­ty 101 and Brain Health Glos­sary: no one is born know­ing it all…check this sum­ma­ry of con­cepts and key­words that can help nav­i­gate through the brain fit­ness field.

Work­ing Mem­o­ry: an image that says much: bad and good news.

Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can: review of this great book.

An online appli­ca­tion sys­tem is now open for the AAAS Sci­ence & Tech­nol­o­gy Pol­i­cy Fel­low­ships.

Cor­po­rate Train­ing & Lead­er­ship

Car­ni­val of the cap­i­tal­ists with a brain: we host­ed this busi­ness blog car­ni­val with a brain spice.

Exec­u­tive Func­tions and Google/ Microsoft Brain Teasers: exam­ples of what our exec­u­tive func­tions are.

Soft­ware Prod­uct News

Mind­Fit by Cog­niFit, and Baroness Susan Green­field: a brain fit­ness pro­gram start­ing to get trac­tion in Europe.

Penn Treaty First To Offer Brain Fit­ness Pro­gram: today’s press release on anoth­er brain train­ing soft­ware (Posit Science)‘s deal with an insur­ance provider.

Visu­al­iza­tion Soft­ware of IBM for the Future of Med­i­cine: Inter­view: “It’s like Google Earth for the body”. Hope­ful­ly it will include the brain.

Brain Teasers

Brain Teasers with a Neu­ro­science angle: enjoy.

Sharp­Brains Announce­ments

Ser­vices: we will for­mal­ly announce soon how we “help com­pa­nies, health providers, investors, and pol­i­cy­mak­ers under­stand and prof­it from the emerg­ing brain fit­ness field.” But now you know.

Speak­ing: if your orga­ni­za­tion needs a good speak­er and brain fit­ness expert, please con­tact us.

Final­ly, we are start­ing to look for qual­i­fied guest blog­gers to add their per­spec­tive. If you are inter­est­ed, please con­tact us and let us know about what you would like to write about, and include a brief bio or links to sam­ples. Thank you.

Best of the Brain from Scientific American

Best of Brain, Scientific American

The Dana Foun­da­tion kind­ly sent us a copy of the great book Best of the Brain from Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can, a col­lec­tion of 21 superb arti­cles pub­lished pre­vi­ous­ly in Sci­en­tif­ic Amer­i­can mag­a­zine. A very nice­ly edit­ed and illus­trat­ed book, this is a must for any­one who enjoys learn­ing about the brain and spec­u­lat­ing about what the future will bring us.

Some essays, like the ones by Eric Kan­del (The New Sci­ence of Mind), Fred Gage (Brain, Repair Your­self), Carl Zim­mer (The Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of the Self) and that by Steven Hol­lon, Michael Thase and John Markowitz (Treat­ing Depres­sion: Pills or Talk), are both intel­lec­tu­al feasts and very rel­e­vant to brain fit­ness. And final­ly start­ing to per­co­late into main­stream con­scious­ness.

Let me quote some quotes and reflec­tions as I was read­ing the book a cou­ple of days ago, in the court­yard of a beau­ti­ful French cafe in Berke­ley:

1) On Brain Plas­tic­i­ty (the abil­i­ty of the brain to rewire itself), Fred Gage says: “With­in the past 5 years, how­ev­er, neu­ro­sci­en­tists have dis­cov­ered that the brain does indeed change through­out life-…The new cells and con­nec­tions that we and oth­ers have doc­u­ment­ed may pro­vide the extra capac­i­ty the brain requires for the vari­ety of chal­lenges that indi­vid­u­als face through­out life. Such plas­tic­i­ty offers a pos­si­ble mech­a­nism through which the brain might be induced to repair itself after injury or dis­ease. It might even open the prospect of enhanc­ing an already healthy brain’s pow­er to think and abil­i­ty to feel”

2)  and How Expe­ri­ence affects Brain Struc­ture: Under the sec­tion title “A Brain Work­out”, Fred Gage says “One of the mot strik­ing aspects of neu­ro­ge­n­e­sis (Note: the cre­ation of new neu­rons) is that expe­ri­ence can reg­u­late the rate of cell divi­sion, the sur­vival of new­born neu­rons and their abil­i­ty to inte­grate into the exist­ing neur­al circuits…The best way to aug­ment brain func­tion might not involve drugs or cell implants but lifestyle changes.”

3) Biol­o­gy of Mind: Eric Kan­del pro­vides a won­der­ful overview of the most 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.