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Neuroscience

  • Perspective: Advocacy Ammo Incoming

    Mike Lawson | September 17, 2014

    So, how’s that national conversation about the impact of music education going?

    If Internet search results are any indication, there may be sunny days ahead for music advocates, teachers, and directors, even those whose school programs are under siege by budget-focused administrators looking to wield the proverbial axe.

    A recent search for “music education” in Google’s “News” search bar yielded the following headlines:

    Study: Music Education Could Help Close The Achievement Gap ... (Huffington Post-Sep 2, 2014)

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  • Music and the Brain: Dalouge Smith and the SDYS

    Mike Lawson | October 12, 2012

    The San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory is the home of an El Sistema-inspired youth orchestra program. Recently, the organization partnered with researchers at the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) and the University of California San Diego (UCSD) Center for Human Development to begin a landmark study with a goal of measuring and understanding the effects of music education on childhood cognitive development. The study, which goes under the acronym "SIMPHONY" (Studying the Influence Music Performance Has On Neurodevelopment in Youth) joins the expertise of UCSD child cognitive development experts, the NSI's experts on the brain and music, and the SDYS's experience teaching young people music.

    Dalouge Smith is an arts advocate and the San Diego Youth Symphony's president and CEO, a role he has served since 2005. SBO recently spoke with Dalouge about this potentially revolutionary scientific endeavor with the goal of better understanding the project's genesis, methodology, and some of the hypotheses that the people involved are hoping to prove.

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  • An Introduction to Researching Music and the Brain

    Mike Lawson | October 12, 2012

    Part 1: An Introduction to Researching Music and the Brain

     

    Two pioneers in the field of researching how music impacts the brain are Dr. Nina Kraus and Dr. Aniruddh Patel. SBO recently spoke with these two scientists to discuss their work and its broad implications on music education.

    Nina Kraus plays the electric guitar, some bass, and a bit of drums. She is also a professor of neurobiology at Northwestern University, where she heads the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory.

    "There's so much work to be done," says Kraus. "I don't need to tell music educators how important music is, not only for the sake of music but also for helping kids become better learners. However, there aren't a lot of visible scientific outcomes in education in general, and there aren't a lot of ironclad results that show the effect that the musical experience has on the nervous system. The work that my lab does, along with the work of others in the field, can hopefully provide some of the evidence that the educators and policy makers can use to get more resources for more music."

    Kraus's studies of the impact that music has on various cognitive abilities have been published in some of the world's leading scientific journals. This summer, Kraus published a study in the Journal of Neuroscience titled "A Little Goes A Long Way," touting the lasting brain benefits of even a relatively small amount of musical study. In that experiment, which received significantf media attention, Kraus measured the brain's response to sound among 45 students at Northwestern University and determined that people with even a small amount of musical training were "better at processing sound" than those with no musical training.

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