Neuroscience and arts education

By Robin Migdol and Samantha de Leve
Illustrations by Sean Kelly

Everything’s About to Change
Arts advocates have struggled forever to make a case for investment in arts education in schools. Sure, the arts make more well-rounded citizens. It’s less clear they produce better people. And while arts classes may improve math or science scores, so would extra math classes. Arts education may reduce crime rates, but it might not be … [read more]
Change? Oh Really?
Surely one of the reasons we are so fascinated with art is because the creative process is, for all our preoccupation with it, still largely a mystery. For all we have learned about art and how to make it, how to communicate it, the artistic impulse remains elusive. You have it or you don’t. You get it or you don’t. You have a relationship with it … [read more]


So what are the coolest things we’re finding out about what Bach and Beyoncé do to our brains? Check it out:

SOUND SCIENCE: Listening to music makes you smarter.

Neuroscientists are developing exciting new understandings of how music develops our brains. We’re rapidly learning that listening to music can raise your IQ, improve your emotional development, and even physically strengthen your brain. Despite the popular assumption that right brain activities are distinct and even opposite from left brain activities, researchers have found correlations between brain areas stimulated by music and those stimulated  by mathematics. These findings should profoundly affect the debates on how and why to fund music education in the public schools.

One takeaway is that music is so powerful partly because the brain uses not one but many parts to process it. Music dances across our neurons, recruits the auditory cortex to interpret the sound, the cerebellum for the beat — the same neural circuitry we use for language — and then integrates it all smoothly.

Contributing editor: Edward Lifson / Illustration above: Sean Kelly

Click on the links below, featuring some of the latest academic research, which will stimulate your own neurons.

The Beatles’ Surprising Contribution To Brain Science
Language, Music, Syntax, and the Brain
Music Lessons Enhance IQ
Synesthesia: Is F-Sharp Colored Violet?
Music’s and Language’s Common Evolutionary Roots Lie in Emotion
Musical Instrument Practice Enhances Children’s Verbal and Nonverbal Reasoning
Brain Indices of Musical Processing: Nonmusicians are “Musical”
A Brain for Rhythm
Current Advances in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music


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