Live Chat Tomorrow: “Do the Arts Make Us Smarter?”

At 3pm EST, Thursday, March 14, Science magazine will be running a free live chat called Do the Arts Make Us Smarter?, exploring the effects of arts education on the brain. Moderated by Science staff writer Emily Underwood, guests will be Daniel Levitin, who runs the Lab for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise at McGill University, and Keith Oatley, a psychologist at the University of Toronto who studies the effect of fiction on our emotions.

What sorts of questions will they answer? How about: Does learning the violin actually increase IQ or translate to better grades? Can drawing help students learn geometry? What other benefits can the arts provide, both in and beyond the classroom?

For those of you can’t tune in live, it will be archived on that same web page.


For more information on arts’ potential to affect the brain, read the Dana Foundation’s 2008 report Learning, Arts, and the Brain. The report was the result of three years’ research by cognitive neuroscientists from seven leading universities across the United States. The researchers grappled with a fundamental question: Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter? Also read the 2009 follow-up book, Neuroeducation: Learning, Arts, and the Brain, which focuses on what brain research can tell us (so far) about teaching and learning, with an emphasis on the arts.

– Ann L. Whitman

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