Um espaço para partilha de ideias relacionadas com as práticas artísticas
e os seus efeitos terapêuticos, com destaque para a vertente musical

segunda-feira, 13 de abril de 2015

Are musicians better language learners?

Today's economic environment demands that our children become the very best they can be. But not all methods, from flashcards to baby signing, actually boost a child's intelligence, language skills or other abilities for success. Music training is the only proven method to boost the full intellectual, linguistic and emotional capacity of a child. 

According to the studies, just one hour a week of learning music is enough for the full brain benefits to take place – including an all-round boost in language skills and a significant increase in IQ.

In Finland, the average person speaks three to five languages – after all, no one understands our obscure native tongue. But Finland's peculiar custom of early music training where even babies and toddlers learn core music skills through songs and games, may also influence the fluency of foreign-language speaking Finns. As music training boosts all the language-related networks in the brain, we would expect it to be beneficial in the acquisition of foreign languages, and this is what the studies have found.


When children start studying music before the age of seven, they develop bigger vocabularies, a better sense of grammar and a higher verbal IQ. These advantages benefit both the development of their mother tongue and the learning of foreign languages. During these crucial years, the brain is at its sensitive development phase, with 95% of the brain's growth occurring now. Music training started during this period also boosts the brain's ability to process subtle differences between sounds and assist in the pronunciation of languages – and this gift lasts for life, as it has been found that adults who had musical training in childhood still retain this ability to learn foreign languages quicker and more efficiently than adults who did not have early childhood music training.

Humans first started creating music 500,000 years ago, yet speech and language was only developed 200,000 years ago. Evolutionary evidence, as interpreted by leading researchers such as Robin Dunbar from Oxford University, indicates that speech as a form of communication has evolved from our original development and use of music. This explains why our music and language neural networks have significant overlap, and why children who learn music become better at learning the grammar, vocabulary and pronounciation of any language.


Read more in Liisa Henriksson-Macaulay's article @ The Guardian



terça-feira, 31 de março de 2015

Introducing the Artiphon Instrument 1

"Strum a guitar, bow a violin, tap a piano, loop a beat – on a single instrument. Artiphon's instrument 1 is an intuitive way to create music and play any sound."



This multi-instrument consists of a force-sensitive fretboard alongside a digital string-like interface and built-in speakers. It's designed to be played in various ways, mimicking different instrument depending on how it's held, from strumming it like a guitar to putting it on your lap and using the frets as piano keys.


Info from GizMag
Read more about the Artiphon Instrument 1 project here

terça-feira, 24 de fevereiro de 2015

12 Amazing things scientists discovered about MUSIC - part II

You can read the first part of this article HERE

5. It can provide benefits to long-term memory.

Music's benefits to working memory and spatiotemporal faculties have been established with years of research. But evidence that music benefits long-term memory had eluded researchers. Until this year. 

Heekyeong Park, from the University of Texas at Arlington, has found the first initial evidence that musical training provides benefits for some aspects of long-term memory. Park presented a group of classically trained musicians and a group of non-musicians with a memory test. She found that trained musicians could far better recall pictures, even though they experienced no benefits for verbal cues. She attributes the findings to the years musicians have spent pouring over musical scores, but she does not have enough data to say conclusively. She's currently planning to repeat the study with more musicians to confirm her findings.

6. It can actually cure tinnitus.

Loud music can give you tinnitus — that horrible ringing in your ears. Chronic tinnitus, which is often associated with age and hearing loss, causes listeners to hear long tones in the absence of any actual musical stimuli. It can be extremely uncomfortable and detrimental to functioning normally. This year, we learned that soft, carefully measured and modified music can take it away. 

Music has already been proven to have major effects on cortical plasticity. And now researchers from the University of Münster have found that they can effectively use music on patients to reorganize their auditory cortices to eliminate those ghost tones. Patients listened to music that had been altered to remove tinnitus frequencies for two hours a day for three months. And by the end, the listening training drastically reduced the frequency and severity of their tinnitus. Researchers also found the process of maladaptively reorganizing the cortex is an entirely different mechanism than the reorganization that occurs from focused listening. Musical training can be beneficial for the young as well as the old.

7. Listening to music about alcohol makes people more likely to drink.
Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and Dartmouth College surveyed our lyric-based stance on substances. They found that the average youth listens to 2.5 hours of popular music a day, and in that window, they're hit with eight mentions of alcohol brands. In a second survey, they found subjects between 15 and 23 years of age who liked songs with alcohol mentions were three times more likely to have had a drink and two times more likely to have binged, compared to participants who didn't like those songs.


"A surprising result of our analysis was that the association between recalling alcohol brands in popular music and alcohol drinking in adolescents was as strong as the influence of parental and peer drinking, and an adolescent's tendency toward sensation-seeking," said Brian Primack, the study's lead author. Our music is giving us drinking probems.

8. Science discovered why talented musicians are so damn sexy.

Benjamin D. Charlton, at the University of Sussex, decided to investigate Charles Darwin's belief that our instinct toward making music is fundamentally all about attracting mates. His study was decided one-sided gender-wise, focusing only on men's attempts to woo women, but he found something truly striking: Darwin was sort of right. 

He had 1,465 women listen to four different classical piano pieces of varying levels of complexity, asking them to determine which composer they imagined they would most like to sleep with. Women at the peak of their menstrual cycles were overwhelming drawn to the composer of the most complex piece. Women not at that point in their cycles showed no preference.

Interestingly, these findings only applied to brief flings. None of the women showed any preference in terms of wanting to settle down with one composer over another. Of course, this study doesn't touch on men's reactions to female musicians. But that's a study for 2015.

Info from Music.Mic

terça-feira, 10 de fevereiro de 2015

Music as a language - Victor Wooten

Music is a powerful communication tool - it causes us to laugh, cry, think and question. Bassist and five-time Grammy winner, Victor Wooten, asks us to approach music the same way we learn verbal language - by embracing mistakes and playing as often as possible.


Info from TEDed Lessons worth sharing
NOTE that this video has subtitles available in portuguese!

sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2015

12 Amazing things scientists discovered about MUSIC - part I

In 2014, scientists looked closer than ever before at why exactly music makes us feel so powerfully. And they found some amazing and unprecedented things.

Studies revealed that music can shape our personalities and behaviors. It can help us choose our sexual partners. And it can be used to cure certain ailments. The deeper researchers dig, the more we realize how powerful of a force it truly is. 

And these findings could not have come at a more perfect moment in time: School systems continue to slash arts and music budgets around the country and the war over how much we pay for music is fundamentally a question of how much we value music. In this crucial year, scientists delivered infallible reminders of what any music lover already knew: Music is more than just entertainment. 

Here are 12 amazing things we discovered about MUSIC this year:

1. Learning an instrument at a young age can provide improved executive function.

Researchers at Boston Children's Hospital found that early musical training helps children improve their executive functions. Executive functions are incredibly important; they enable people to retain information, regulate behavior and solve problems more effectively. 

Children that started playing music at age 6 showed enhanced activation in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that owns executive functions. And they performed far better than control groups on tests requiring them to shift between mental demands. Executive functioning is also a "strong predictor of academic achievement, even more than IQ," said study senior investigator Nadine Gaab. "Our findings suggest that musical training may actually help to set up children for a better academic future."


2. Rhythmic ability has been linked to language learning.

One of the first skills that children need to acquire when learning to read and speak is how to pick up on the rhythms of speech. They gain this ability to detect rhythms and define boundaries between words and syllables long before they can actually speak. So having a good sense of rhythm is very important to learning language. This year, we discovered just how important it really is.

Developmental psychologists at Northwestern University found that testing children for this rhythmic ability is a good way to detect potential language-based disabilities that may hit children later in life. Those that can hold an even drum beat score also higher on early language tests. The study's authors suggest that parents and educators use rhythmic tests to try to identify and address any possible linguistic deficiencies while children's brains are still young and malleable.


3. Music training can help close the achievement gap.

Nina Kraus, a Northwestern researcher also involved with the previous study, found that music can be vital in helping schools close the achievement gap — the massive inequality in academic performance between students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Kraus studied the neural activity of kids beginning their music education while working with the Harmony Project, a nonprofit after-school program that teaches music to children in low-income communities in Los Angeles. Using EEGs, Kraus found that brainwaves of disadvantaged children were "noisier, weaker and more variable" in responding to verbal stimuli than children from more privileged backgrounds. 

But after two years of musical training, she discovered something very different. She found that students with musical training had gotten much better at making clear neural responses to consonants and vowels. This faster processing power will likely have huge benefits for these children's language acquisition and concentration. Music might be one of most effective ways to help give children from disadvantaged backgrounds the cognitive tools they need to escape poverty.


4. It can combat ADHD.

Three scientists from the University of Graz uncovered a startling pattern in a recent longitudinal study investigating what musical learning does to a brain's plasticity. It turns out that kids who learn music boasted significantly thicker grey matter in brain areas linked to attention and concentration. The kids also demonstrated enhanced right-left hemispheric synchronization, which led to high scores on attentional, linguistic and literacy tests. 

In short, musical training builds the same brain structures that are markedly deficient in neural scans of children suffering from ADHD. The scientists hypothesized that early music training can be major benefit to helping children reduce the negative impacts associated with ADHD.

Info from Music.Mic

domingo, 28 de dezembro de 2014

Charles Limb: Your brain on musical improvisation


Musician and researcher Charles Limb wondered how the brain works during musical improvisation — so he put jazz musicians and rappers in an fMRI to find out. What he and his team found has deep implications for our understanding of creativity of all kinds.



Info from TED

sexta-feira, 21 de novembro de 2014

Capturing Grace: intersection between modern dancing and Parkinson's disease

"Capturing Grace is a story about two realms. One is occupied by some of the most acclaimed modern dancers in the world. The other is inhabited by a group of people with Parkinson's disease. This film is about what happens when those worlds intersect.
For me, it's also a personal story. I was diagnosed with Parkinson's eight years ago, the third member of my family to receive that news. A few years after my diagnosis, my colleagues at Kikim Media and I made a film about Parkinson's for the PBS Frontline series called My Father, My Brother and Me . It was during that production that I first learned about the Mark Morris Dance Group's unique partnership with people with Parkinson's from the Brooklyn Parkinson Group. Later, I did a short profile of the program for the PBS NewsHour, but I've always felt there was a deeper story to be told.
This is a film about rediscovery, the rediscovery of a lighter step and the sweetness of motion.  And it's a story about a remarkable community of dancers - some professional, some not - but all coming together to move in space...and in doing so, rediscovering grace.  And it is in that rediscovery that each becomes whole."
Dave Iverson, filmmaker and director