Learning, Arts and the Brain

The Dana Foundation released Learning, Arts and the Brain: A Dana Consortium Report on Arts and Cognition back in March. Led by Michael Gazzaniga (see Mind Hacks on him recently), the report “advances our understanding of the effects of music, dance, and drama education on other types of learning” as well as addressing the question, “Are smart people drawn to the arts or does arts training make people smarter?”

The overall summary , written by Gazzaniga, discuss motivation and sustained attention, the overlap between skills in arts and math, and even mentions aesthetics, openness, and dopamine. Gazzaniga highlights research on dance as indicative of overall synergies:

Our research indicates that dance training can enable students to become highly successful observers. We found that learning to dance by watching alone can be highly successful and that the success is sustained at the neural level by a strong overlap between brain areas that are used for observing actions and also for making actual movements. These shared neural substrates are critical for organizing complex actions into sequential structure.

The report itself has a range of chapters, including ones on music skills and cognition, dance and the brain, and arts education, the brain and language.

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