I recently took part in some interesting research in that intriguing Venn diagram intersection of music/language/psychology.
Honest debate impels me to include points of view which do not match my own. In this regard here is an article in which it it stated that parents who invest in music lessons for their children, in the hope of improved academic ability, are wasting their money. Whether or not you agree with this does not change the fact that having instrumental lessons, not through love of music, but in the hope of improving other abilities does seem an odd approach – why not just study harder?
I received a nice pingback on a recent post today on the Mind Over Music blog by Justin Yanowicz and Judy Crook. Having been in touch with Nina Krauss, the director of the work mentioned on my original post, and discovering that we will both be attending The Neurosciences and Music conference in June, today’s unexpected tie-in was further proof of the ease with which the internet can bring together those with a shared interest, connecting and amplifying learning.
What I liked in particular was their advice to delay cognitive ageing: “Speak several languages daily and keep playing your instrument.” Easier said than done or, as I like to say when pupils suggest insurmountability, “difficult, but not impossible.”
As revision classes kick off in East Lothian schools, I chanced upon an interesting talk, on LSE podcasts, about learning and memory by science journalist, Joshua Foer – author of Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything. Entitled The End of Remembering, this turned out not to be exactly the talk I was expecting. While the risks of outsourcing our memories and memorising skills to technology is certainly touched upon, there is more in the way of practical advice and theory of learning: Baker/baker paradox; spatial memory and mnemonics; cognitive/associative/autonomous phases of learning a skill (Fitts and Posner).
Although the mp3 of the talk lasts for 1:04:01, much of this is given over to questions. The talk lasts for 26 mins.
An interesting coining in the Q&A was artificial synaesthesia – choosing to summon up and make use of making use of the kind of associations about which synaesthetes have no choice.
You can download/listen to the talk here.
I’ve not tried this yet but it looks quite interesting – just need to find a quiet room somewhere…
Catching up with a podcast of Start The Week, I was delighted to be pointed in the direction of The Mysteries of the Brain – a series of programmes on BBC World Service by Professor Barry Smith.* In his discussions with Andrew Marr, he referred to experiments carried out by John-Dylan Haynes, which pointed to the illusory nature of free will. Volunteers were asked, repeatedly, to decided whether to press a button with their left or right hand while in an fMRI scanner. Evidence of brain activity, which enabled those reading output to predict with 100% accuracy which hand would be used, appeared up to 7 seconds before the volunteer was aware of their conscious choice. John-Dylan Haynes describes the situation as follows:
[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/nuvzMq0YZ3k?rel=0" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]
… don’t make us smarter: http://www.bbc.co.uk/labuk/results/braintestbritain/1_results_summary.html
Results in more depth: http://www.bbc.co.uk/labuk/results/braintestbritain/_in_depth.html
Beginning on Monday, I intend to clock up the indoor swimming baths equivalent of swimming the Channel i.e. 35km. Raising money for Aspire, the event is scheduled to last 12 weeks – until 6 December. However, I hope to complete the challenge in 6 weeks. This will amount to 50 lengths-per-day, 5 days-per-week. Should I fall behind, there’s always the October week…….
Should you wish to donate, please visit my Just Giving page.
Increasingly, differences between some aspects of the real and virtual worlds feel virtually negligible – with one notable exception. Walking past the bookshelves in the hall, my eye is frequently caught by the spines of books I hope soon to read or re-read. Undeservedly neglected blogs seem to reach out less and I often return to one to find a treasure trove of fascinating reading/watching/listening/testing matter. One such is Music Matters* – a music cognition blog put together by Henkjan Honing of the University of Amsterdam.
This morning’s visit threw up the following topics:
Although apparently published last week, this study was thrown my way by Hilery Williams last term!