The Arts and the Brain

According to a new study that was presented on May 6, 2009 at Johns Hopkins University’s (Learning, Arts, and the Brain) we now have the most significant evidence yet to suggest that arts education can improve learning.

The study discovered that “children who receive music instruction for just 15 months show strengthened connections in musically relevant brain areas and perform better on associated tasks, compared with students who do not learn an instrument.”

Another study presented at the Johns Hopkins University summit asserted that “children who receive training to improve their focus and attention perform better not only on attention tasks but also on intelligence tests.”

Gottfried Schlaug, a professor of neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School and co-author of the music instruction study said “It’d be difficult to find another activity [besides music training] that takes up so much real estate in the brain.”

Science continues to confirm the importance of music education.  Congratulation to those of you that continue to support music education in the schools, and continue to drive your child to music lessons.





2 thoughts on “The Arts and the Brain

  1. The obvious follow-up questions are,
    (a) WHY does music education have this effect, and
    (b) HOW can this effect be obtained with maximum efficiency?

    Unfortunately, the US Department of Education’s current research funding policy, established in the Bush era, seems to preclude any funding for arts education research. Funding is only available for research into education in the fields of “reading, writing, mathematics, or science.”

    Does this exclusion of arts education research seem reasonable to you, given the above-described findings?

    The Obama Administration has just installed a new Director of the relevant research institute. He could perhaps be persuaded that the institute’s mandate should be widened to include the funding of arts education research, so that the above questions could be answered.

    If this topic is of interest to you, please join the conversation at

    Thanks! 🙂

    Jim Plamondon
    Austin, Texas

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