Sound Health: Shaping Our Children’s Lives Through Music Engagement

SoundHealth-BrainOnMusic-Limb

For the second year, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts spent a weekend exploring the connections between music, the brain, and humanity. A piece of their ongoing “Sound Health” partnership, the events at the Center this past weekend focused on how important the arts are to children’s development, both experiencing art and practicing and producing it. [See also our report and KC videos from last year’s event.]

The idea partnership came up in conversations between NIH director Francis Collins and renowned soprano and Kennedy Center artistic advisor Renée Fleming, and they led the chorus of brain experts and musical prodigies starting with a conversation and concert on Friday. Collins also announced a new program that will soon offer $5 million in research grants to study the effects of the arts on the brain, in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts.

All the Saturday events are available as webcasts—including a drumming circle led by Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart! They are all worth a watch or two, with engaging scientists talking interspersed with great musicians performing. Together they add up to more than seven hours, so take your time. Many have small sections where the audience can participate; if you really want to get your rhythm on, jump down to the Interactive Drum Circle recording and have at it for a good 60 minutes.

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Music Makes Its Case for Neurological Respect

City Winery in Manhattan was a most appropriate venue to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. And while not very much music was heard at the IMNF-sponsored forum, music’s impact on the brain was certainly in the air as neuroscientists, music therapists, and one rock music luminary covered the many ways in which music may affect brain development, cognition, and healing.

After all was said and done, however, one point seemed to hover above all the rest: the inability on the part of researchers to produce replicated studies that link the benefits of music to cognitive function.

Hart (left) and Gazzaley (right). Photo credit: Edward Bilsky

Grateful Dead percussionist Mickey Hart (left) and neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley (right). Photo credit: Edward Bilsky

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Dana News E-Blast: October

Here are some stories recently posted on www.dana.org:

The Binge and the Brain

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by Alice V. Ely, Ph.D., and Anne Cusack, Psy.D.

Who hasn’t dipped into that pint of Häagen-Dazs and finished the entire container? Out-of-control impulse consumption is at the heart of binge-eating disorder (BED), a newly recognized mental condition that we are just beginning to better understand–from both a neurobiological and clinical standpoint. From Cerebrum, our online magazine of ideas.

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Can Video Games Improve Brain Function?

NeurogamingL-R: C. Shawn Green, Adam Gazzaley, Jonathon Blow, and moderator Steve Hyman

Can a video game improve cognitive function? It is clear that, with training, one can get better at a particular task within a game. But can the benefits extend to other areas? Panelists who spoke Thursday night at the International Neuroethics Society public forum in San Diego believe the answer is yes.

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