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ArtPlace Could Make the Difference In Communities Across America

After some months (it could be argued, years), Rocco Landsman, Chair of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has put together a national organization dedicated to building creative places in cities around the country, demonstrating the vital link between the arts and economic development....

Nurturing Arts Districts for the New Economy

The economy is in the toilet and it is hard, some would say impossible, to talk about the future. "Arts districts"? You have got to be kidding. In spite of the pessimism, ULI San Diego/Tijuana http://ulisd.org/ hosted a seminar earlier this month entitled "Powering Innovation Economies,"...

This Is Your Brain On Art (sizzle sizzle)

September 12, 2011 By

She’s not the only one.  But unlike many of the others, she decided to do something about it.  So on October 30, 2010, Shumaker pasted a bunch of electrodes to her forehead, hooked them up to a computer, and tracked her brain’s electrical signals while watching a live performance.  She recorded the humming of her synapses, so to speak, and now she’s trying to figure out what it means.

This is a follow-up post to an earlier post, “Syncing Brainwaves Through the Fourth Wall.”  After I wrote that, I heard about someone right in my own backyard who was actually attempting to examine brainwaves in conjunction with theatrical attendance.  Pretty cool stuff!  A version of this will appear in print in Theatre Bay Area magazine in October.

Working in conjunction with the psychology department at Humboldt State University, Shumaker is attempting to to use electroencephalography, more commonly known as EEG, to measure what’s the science world calls “affect,” and what most laypeople would call “emotion.”

“I’m looking at what are called alpha asymmetry scores,” Shumaker says.  “When you take readings of electrical activity through electrodes on the skin above the prefrontal cortex, you can tell by the changing differences between the scores on the left and right sides what is happening with affect, or emotion—so the actual emotional experiences of a person can be tracked, in a way, using these asymmetry scores.”

Shumaker believes that research like this may actually be able to shed some light on some of the fundamentals that make theatre so unique and transformative.

“Theatre is an excellent medium for helping us start to understand aesthetic experiences that are extremely complicated,” says Shumaker.  “Unlike simple conversation, which is complex enough, theatre combines everything from physical movement to auditory and visual stimuli.”

For what is viewed as a largely passive group, the audience is actually very active during any sort of interaction.  Think about it.  What is it like when you’re in a really good theatrical event?  Your body and your brain are on a sort of stationary rollercoaster—you experience emotions, physical responses, things both so big you can’t ignore them (a jerk when surprised) and so small you’d never notice (an eye twitch, a smirk).

What’s hard is that our standard methods of trying to assess an audience’s experience generally fall short in terms of being able to accurately gauge immediate response.  This can happen for a variety of reasons, ranging from general politesse to a wish to avoid quantifying their experience.

The way Shumaker puts it is, “Post-performance surveys and lobby chatter, from a social psychology standpoint, just aren’t super useful.  People have all kinds of tricks of memory and biases that they reflect when they talk about something.  Getting to something physiological gives us a clearer picture of what people are actually experiencing.”

In a way, brain research is the hard-science twin of Theatre Bay Area’s ongoing research into the intrinsic impact of art.  Whereas with intrinsic impact we’re talking about abstract concepts like empathy, emotion, social connection and intelligence, the avenues being explored in neural research are actually attempting to show the development of pathways, of connections.  And each strengthens, or has the potential to strengthen the other.

Whole Brain Creativity

When developing ideas we combine left-brain thinking for rational persuasion and competitive edge, with right-brain creativity to achieve strong emotional engagement....

Kindermusik ~ A Whole Brain Activity

So what can your family do to provide a “whole-brain”, “whole body”, “whole child” experience? Be involved in musical learning and moving. For your youngest member of the family sing, dance, feel the beat, play instruments to the beat and expose them to a variety...

Learn Music and utilise your whole brain!

The Musetude method increases holistic brain and thinking skills

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  •  Music theory activates the left brain
  • Composition, improvisation activates the right brain
  • Coordination activates both areas of the brain.

“Incredible way to teach. I’ve spent 10 years in various music lessons for various instruments and none were as productive or fun as today’s. Brilliant! They make learning a new instrument incredibly easy and the teachers are all very kind, happy and highly competent in what they do. I hope to gain more experience with the piano, hopefully through Big Smile as they are incredible.”~ Alex Ward, Rangitoto College, New Zealand

Left and Right Brain based on Dr. Roger Sperry

Nobel Prize winner Roger Sperry, through his research on patients with split brains, discovered that the brain can be divided into 2 hemispheres – Left and Right.

  • The Left Brain is the part that is logical, analytical, linear, verbal, symbolic and rational. It is not concerned with the “whole picture” – only with the component currently at hand.
  • Whereas the Right Brain is visual, non-logical, holistic, intuitive, irrational, spatial, and synthetic. It is not concerned with individual components, but with the bigger picture. It observes patterns rather than details.

California Museums Can Help California Schools

The California Association of Museums (CAM) joined the American Association of Museums' (AAM) Center for the Future of Museums to organize a 30th anniversary celebration aimed at forecasting the future of California's museums, and published a discussion guide entitled "Tomorrow in the Golden State: Museums...

With Apologies To Hillary It Does Take a Village

Bill Gates has said one of the most important issues facing our nation is how we educate our young. But something is missing in the national education debate, and sadly, we have been at a standstill for decades. Educators have been arguing with administrators about...

Mayors With a New Vision of Creativity and Innovation Wanted

John M. Eger – Huffington Post

Lionel Van Deerlin Professor of Communications and Public Policy, San Diego State University

Posted: 08/16/11

 

Almost 20 years ago, when San Diego Mayor Susan Golding was just elected, she had the foresight to launch a “city of the future” committee. San Diego really didn’t know what a city of the future looked like, but knew then you had to have fiber optics — lots of bandwidth in the ground. So it was fiber optics and bandwidth that was on everybody’s lips.

Today, understanding the challenges of the new global economy and knowing what it takes to succeed in the workplace of the future, we know it is not bandwidth in the ground that is so important as the bandwidth in people’s heads.

Within the next several months there are countless mayoral races that present an opportunity to talk about a new path for the future of cities.

It is the worst of times to have such a conversation, many would say, with pension deficits looming, services being cut and unemployment at an all time high. Yet, as the Cheshire cat said to Alice in Alice in Wonderland, “if you don’t know where you are going any road will get you there.”

It is time Americans know the road they must take. It’s also time we talk candidly about the connections between art, commerce, education and economic development and importantly, what communities everywhere must do to be successful in what is being called “the creative and innovative economy.”

Many cities are struggling to redefine themselves or reinvent a strategy to jumpstart economic development, and to figure out what is happening to our economy. We know it’s global, and as Thomas Friedman of the New York Times has told us, it’s “flat.” We know, too, it’s digital and that growth of the Internet and the World Wide Web is compelling development of a global economy. But it is creativity — simply defined as “the quality or ability to create or invent something original” — that best defines the characteristic most of us need to succeed in the new economy.