lunes, 15 de marzo de 2010

Close Links between Arts, Learning

Brain Scientists Identify Close Links between Arts, Learning
The latest research in neuroscience is providing evidence that arts study strengthens other cognitive areas

By Ben Mauk
May 14, 2009

Music training in childhood improves cognitive abilities, according to research presented May 6 at Johns Hopkins University’s “Learning, Arts, and the Brain” summit in Baltimore. The work presents the most significant evidence yet that arts education can improve learning.

A recent study found 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.

The result echoes those of other researchers who are tightening the links between the arts and cognition. Another study presented at the summit found that children who receive training to improve their focus and attention perform better not only on attention tasks but also on intelligence tests. Arts training might similarly affect a wide range of cognitive domains, say researchers.

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

“Already the initial data we have show profound changes,” he said.

Educators and neuroscientists gathered recently at the Hopkins summit in Baltimore and the subsequent “Learning and the Brain” conference in Washington, D.C., to discuss the increasingly detailed picture of how arts education changes the brain, and how to translate that research to education policy and the classroom.

Study links music, brain changes

Schlaug and co-author Ellen Winner, a professor of psychology at Boston College, described to the Hopkins group how they measured, for the first time, changes to the brain as a result of music training.

For four years, Winner and Schlaug followed children ages 9 to 11, some of whom received regular music instruction. Before training began, and then at regular intervals, the researchers tested for whether the training had affected “near transfer” domains—skills closely related to those directly trained during music education—such as fine motor control in the fingers and music listening and discrimination skills. They also tested for any changes in “far transfer” domains—areas unrelated to music, such as language, perceptual reasoning or abstract reasoning—but found no difference between the music and nonmusic groups on brain scans or in performance.

In initial results from data collected after 15 months, the researchers found that the students who received music instruction performed much better in the near transfer domains; the two groups of students had performed equally before instruction began. Winner and Schlaug also observed strengthened connections in musically relevant areas of the brain among students who had received the 15 months of training, compared with the nonmusic group. These changes correlated with the children’s behavioral improvements.

“This is the first study to show brain plasticity in young children as a function of instrumental music instruction,” Schlaug said. “And this is correlated with the amount of practice.”

Previous studies had shown that the brains of adult musicians have structural and functional differences from those of nonmusicians, but Winner and Schlaug’s investigation is the first to examine changes in the developing brain in response to long-term music training.

Attention and intelligence

Another study presented at the “Learning, Arts, and the Brain” summit found what may be far transfer of skills when children received training to improve attention and focus.

Training can strengthen regions of the brain linked to attention, self-control and general intelligence, reported Michael Posner, professor emeritus at the University of Oregon. He speculated that the focus-intensive tasks involved in arts learning might provide some of the same effects.

“Years of neuroimaging have now given us a plausible or putative mechanism by which arts training could now influence cognition, including attention and IQ,” he said.

“There are brain network associations with each specific art form,” Posner said. “In classroom situations, children can be absorbed by practicing music. And there are consequences to [the] effort that the child expends.”

Posner’s research focused on the brain’s executive attention network, which enables a state of alertness and the ability to focus on a task. It is also linked to the self-regulation of impulses in children.

Posner found that children trained on attention-related tasks have more effective attention networks and even improved in far transfer domains. When children participated in training sessions specifically designed to improve attention, “not only did attention improve, but also generalized parts of intelligence related to fluid intelligence and IQ increased,” he said.

If controlled training can increase attention and general intelligence, Posner hypothesized, then perhaps arts training also has a far transfer effect.

“If we are able to engage children in an art form for which their brain is prepared,
and they have an openness and creativity, we can train them in this and see improvement in attention, as well as intelligence and cognition in general,” he said.

Educators are interested

Several conference attendees, who ranged from teaching artists and schoolteachers to policymakers and scientists, discussed in their presentations potential classroom benefits of the scientific results.

“Artists have been posing these questions since forever,” said Ken Kosik, a professor of neuroscience at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Now, “neuroscientists have started to pose these questions in a reasonable way.”

“We need neuroscientists in schools,” he said. “Just like we have teaching hospitals, we need teaching schools.”

Mary Ann Mears, a sculptor and arts advocate, noted that the science must meet a high standard.

“We’re very careful in how we use research,” she said during a panel discussion at the May 6 summit titled “Implications of Research for Educational Practice.”

Janet Eilber, artistic director of the Martha Graham Center for Contemporary Dance and arts education director at the Dana Foundation, expressed hope that educators would use neuroscience’s increasingly detailed understanding of the arts and learning to develop practical classroom strategies.

“Now that the research has gotten to a certain point,” she said, “the question is really: How do we make better use of this information, and replicate it more, and share it more, and make sure it is in the classroom in a credible way?”

Both the “Learning, Arts, and the Brain” summit and the “Learning and the Brain” conference were sponsored in part by the Dana Foundation.

About Ben Mauk
Ben Mauk is a former writer and editor for Dana Press.

Arts and Intelligence

Attention May Link Arts and Intelligence -

The Dana FoundationAt the Learning, Arts, and the Brain conference, neuroscientists such as Gottfried Schlaug presented the results of their research on arts and cognition to an audience of scientists, teachers and other educators at the American Visionary Art Museum. Artwork by public-school students was displayed on each of the tables, along with drawing paper, markers and pens to help participants creatively come up with ways to use science to inform teaching and to use what teachers see in the classroom to point to where to do research next. (photos by Nicky Penttila)

Attention May Link Arts and Intelligence

By Aalok Mehta
May 2009
Arts training can cause dramatic changes in the brain, including possibly strengthening the “attention network,” a series of regions linked to general intelligence, scientists have discovered.

The experts speaking at the “Learning, Arts and the Brain” educational summit this past week said evidence is growing that skills built practicing the arts can cross into other mental domains. The event, held May 6 at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore, was hosted by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education and sponsored in part by the Dana Foundation. During the summit, neuroscientists, educators and arts advocates learned the latest science on how practice in the arts affects the brain, as well as how art education is currently practiced in various public schools. The more than 300 people attending then discussed in small groups and a full forum how best to apply the science to improve teaching and learning in the schools and which directions researchers should follow next.

The research presented at the forum builds on previous studies, including the work of the seven groups of scientists involved in the Dana Arts & Cognition consortium, that shows tight correlations between artistic endeavors and cognitive abilities. The new findings—especially how effective attention training can be in classroom settings—also offer insight into potential new teaching methods for younger students.
When children underwent simple, interactive attention training, “not only did attention improve, but also generalized parts of intelligence related to fluid intelligence and IQ increased,” said Michael Posner, a professor of psychology at the University of Oregon.

Michael Posner

Posner’s work builds upon surveys and tests of children that found that brain scans of those who exhibit high levels of “effortful control,” or self-regulation—the ability to avoid distraction and focus on a single task—show greater activity in
their attention network.

This finding offers a tentative explanation for common anecdotal reports that academic performance improves in schools that boost their arts programs, he said. Different art forms, such as music or dance, activate quite distinct neural networks. But if kids remain open to the experience and stay interested, all the art forms seem to interact with the attention network. “If we are able to engage children in an art form for which their brain is prepared, and they have an openness and creativity, we can train them in this and see improvement in attention, as well as intelligence and cognition in general,” Posner said.

“Performance or practice of any of the art forms changes the neural networks performing that art form. There is very little dispute about the existence of these networks and that they change with practice,” he added. “Years of neuroimaging have now given us a plausible or putative mechanism by which arts training could now influence cognition, including attention and IQ.”
Musical training alters brain connections

Gottfried Schlaug, who is helping conduct a study comparing children who took up an instrument with children who didn’t, echoed Posner’s comments. Using diffusion tensor imaging, a brain scanning method that can map the white-matter connections among brain areas, he found that musical training can quickly produce significant changes in children’s brains. Just 15 months of training, for instance, caused thickening of the fibers in finger-movement areas and sound-processing areas, as well as increased activity in the temporal lobe, frontal lobe and cerebellum.

“Already the initial data we have show profound changes,” said Schlaug, a neurology professor at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School in Boston. “This is the first study that shows brain plasticity in young children as a function of instrumental music instruction, and this is correlated with the amount of practice.” The research was reported March 11 in the Journal of Neuroscience.
Many of these regions are related to tasks important to math and other subjects, he added, pointing out specifically the inferior frontal gyrus. “Math and music activate some of the same areas,” he said. But in the first 15 months of the study’s data, the results show only near transfer, or improvement in brain functions directly associated with music. The researchers did not see evidence of far transfer, or better performance on distantly related abilities such as mental rotation and geometric ability in the first year and a half of training. But the study continued for four years, and the scientists are still analyzing the final years of data.

“Is there going to be far transfer later on or not? We don’t know,” said Schlaug’s study colleague Ellen Winner, a psychology professor at Boston College. It may be that the researchers’ tests were not sensitive enough to detect small improvements, she said The study also is “messy,” she said, with half the participants eventually dropping out.

Elizabeth Spelke

However, Elizabeth Spelke, a psychology professor at Harvard University, offered another indication that such far transfer occurs, at least for music and math. Previously, she had discovered that math skill is not one single thing, but rather revolves around three abilities, recognizing objects, numerical sense and geometrical sense. Spelke also had found that children with moderate or intense music training—but not just a little training—showed “small but reliable increases” only on abilities revolving around geometry. Now she and colleagues have demonstrated that even 4-month-olds seem to inherently connect geometry with sound. The infants learned to associate long tones with long cartoon worms and short tones with short worms, but they never could figure out a situation in which the tone and image did not match. . Likewise, the infants associated high-pitched tones with worms placed at the top of a screen, and low-pitched tones with worms on the bottom of the screen, but not the incongruent situations. “From the beginning of life, if an infants hears music, the melodic processing may lead to new forms of visual processing,” Spelke said. “This may form the basis for the relationship between math and music later on.”

“This [result] is enough of a possibility that it gives us another reason to pursue an arts curriculum,” Spelke said.
Brian Wandell, a Stanford University psychology and electrical engineering professor, outlined studies that mapped white matter, the fibers connecting different areas of the brain. His and others’ work has shown the importance of the corpus callosum for phonological awareness, a key skill in reading, he said. And new work shows that fibers connecting two specific parts of the parietal lobe, the anterior superior and longitudinal fasciculus, are very specific to a person’s accuracy at approximating numbers. This was true only in the left hemisphere and did not hold true for adjacent fiber bundles. “These are the parts of the brain we might focus on during training studies,” he said. “We’re hoping these kinds of studies can inform you when you ask your questions,” about where researchers should focus their work to best help teachers, he told the audience.

Researcher Elizabeth Spelke, left, and educator Alice Wilder (“Blues Clues,” “SuperWhy!’) participate in small-group discussions on what questions researchers should try to answer about the effect of arts and practicing the arts on the brain and cognition during the Learning, Arts, and the Brain conference at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore on May 6, 2009.

martes, 9 de marzo de 2010

Role of Women in Society

Role of Women in Society
By Konstantin

The ongoing changes in social, political and economic spheres of the country entails not only the raise of women's role in society, in addition they are accompanied by breaking of stereotypes to treat human beings by sex that had been shaping through decades. Free economic relations and democratization of all spheres of life create the basis for eventual equal social rights for any human being regardless of sex, for both men and women.
From a legal point of view, a man and a woman in Russia are equal. However, in practice, there are no real mechanisms of women's rights fulfillment as well as for their active participation in social life.

Such questions as women and their place in the society, their political and social activity as well as enlightening of those problems in mass media; questions of creation of informational data-base as well as maternity and childhood cannot be effectively solved by governmental bodies, especially in the situation of economic crisis.
That is why it is important today to assist the creation of such mechanisms through the activation of women's public organizations. And non-governmental charity organizations become a single source for support of such projects.
Housework, chores and raising children are generally considered to belong to a woman's domain.

Despite the fact that birthrates in the country have been falling, children are obstacles in the labor market. It is understandable that women decide to defer having children later or do not have children at all. Along with that, there is a lack of knowledge about modern contraception and a correspondingly large number of abortions. The frequency of abortions in Russia is one of the highest in the world.

Women comprise 54 percent of contemporary Russian society. However, the number of women taking part in the country's political, economic and civic life shows that women are restricted in the spheres of politics and government. Women's salaries are on average lower than men's, and women are likewise far more likely to fall victim to violence and unemployment. According to United Nations Gender Organization data, 67 percent of those unemployed in Russia are women.
A lack of state financing in social programs has caused further tightening in the labor market, particularly for women. Female unemployment is rising at a catastrophically high rate. Women have less access to retraining programs than men, while women entrepreneurs are a rarity.
Women's social status is a serious problem. Few female decision-makers can be found in positions of social importance. This strengthens the stereotype of "male superiority" and hinders the creation of true partnerships between men and women.

One of the most important reflections of equity is equal rights in the labor market. Analysis of existing legislation of Russia confirms its prohibition on gender discrimination. However, legislation itself creates only a certain legal environment, certain conditions for equality, but does not ensure their fulfillment.

So, The main goals are protection of women's rights and elimination of discrimination in society; widening women's participation in policy decision-making processes on the local, regional and national levels; support for cooperation between women's organizations on the national and international arenas; widening access to international resources and experience of women's organizations on an international level.

Has Western Society Truly Emancipated Women?

Has Western Society Truly Emancipated Women?

While the Vatican talks about washing machines as being the major force leading to the liberation of woman, yet millions of women in Eastern and Asian countries live from day to day without any freedom. They are seen as little more than chattels belonging to their husbands and are kept totally under male domination. This includes countries such as:
o Afghanistan,
o Saudi Arabia,
o India,
o Egypt,
o Indonesia,
o Paskistan,
o China, o Malaysia,
o The Moslem countries of the Middle East,
o Many African nations and
o Even tropical islands such as Vanuatu.

Millions of women live being denied access to education, consigned to the house, all freedom of expression strictly curtailed, dress codes rigidly enforced, the liberty to speak freely with men not allowed and a general disapproval of women being found in any position of authority.
However, it is only a few years ago that girls were not encouraged to obtain higher education, even in Western society. After all girls were only going to mess around and maybe work for a few years, before getting married and staying at home to look after the family. Why waste a university education on them?

What then has brought about the change to where women in the Western world feel they have been given their freedom? Is it really the washing machine, as the Vatican recently declared, that made the difference?

Equal opportunity for women has freed many women, allowing them to take a major role in Western society. This was brought about through:

o Germaine Greer and 'the burn the bra' movement o The pill and the availability of safe abortions o Anti discrimination laws both in the work place and in education o Child minding and day care facilities, backed by the government, have allowed mums to continue as working-mums o The anonymity and world-wide reach of the Internet and Cyber Space has been another major contributing factor. Women can now work from home, but if they choose, then can be sexless and nameless.

Maybe though, it is time to admit the pendulum may have swung too far, with many antifeminist activists claiming the feminist movement now seeks a higher status for women than for men. Serious traditional intellectuals such as Allan Graglia and Carlson Carolyn believe that the change of women's role, from being primarily mothers, to self-identified professionals, has created a social disaster that continues to take its toll on the family.

Many now believe there is an anti-male discrimination in the areas of child custody, reproductive rights, alimony and property division, in messy divorce settlements. Antifeminists are quick to point to the marked increase in divorce and the breakdown of family relationships as having been formed by the influence of the feminist movement.

Still there are feminists who say, "I would rather cook a meal for a man and bring him his slippers and feel myself in the protection of his arms than have all the citations and awards and honors I have received worldwide, including the Ribbon of Legion of Honor and my property and my bank accounts. They mean nothing to me. And I am only one among the millions of sad women like myself."

Other women are quick to promote the business woman, women as leader models, as well encouraging women into competitive environments, in spite of the fact that women sometimes receive 'preferential treatment' in the form of being permitted lower physical requirements in some professions, such as military and rescue services.
In the finish, it will be neither the male domination, nor the feminist, nor anti feminist movements, that will make a difference to families in the years ahead, but the legalization of same sex marriages. The world is in a fervent of change for both men and women.

Dr Wendy and her husband are CEO's of YouMe Support Foundation, ( providing high school education grants. They are offering a world first Blue Moon Opportunity to win your own private holiday home, plus 6 luxury holiday units. Check it out at Win a Resort.
Article Source:

Do muslim women in western society have a choice?

Do muslim women in western society have a choice?

Morsal Obeidi was just 16, she wanted to live like the other girls in Germany. Free to make choices. But she paid dearly for aspiring to be free, her brother stabbed her 20 times. This honour killing right in the heart of Germany has sparked huge debate about muslim women, the choices they have and they don’t have. And whether at all they can opt to walk away from the family bindings.

It must be really difficult to live closed life in a free world. The children of religious minority groups can never really get integrated into western society. Their homes and their religious bindings often place them in a dilemma of choices. They rarely think of escaping from home and bindings. Their upbringing teaches them not to abandon family and family values at any cost. The family name, family honour, their own religion and society are of supreme importance. Defying parents and religious law is never tolerated. If some of them do dare, they end up getting punished.

Asserting one’s own religion, one’s own culture and value is important. But not giving freedom to step out to explore the world and live life on one’s own terms is a kind of oppression. Modern society will see more such attempts to crossover traditional barriers and boundaries to see the world beyond.

source: guardian285213

The Role of Women in Our Modern Society

The Role of Women in Our Modern Society
December 6, 2006 by

A girl becomes a woman, a woman becomes a wife, a woman becomes a mother, a woman becomes a grandmother, a woman becomes a relative.
So, woman are still equals to men because without them they can not reproduce.
Women are equal to men that is one of the basics of human rights. What does this mean? Was there a time when men and women were not equal and what is it to be a woman. Women are viewed as girls, mothers, wives, grandmothers, relatives and friends.

When a girl is born her room is often painted in pink and her cloths are the same colour. Pink is the light colour of red, the color of blood. This is because women have to reproduce and make children. Red has been a controversial colour during the Communist era because it was the emblem. Women are mothers. They bear there babies in their womb for no more than nine months. A woman can have multiple births and they get help from the Government when it happens to them Read more in Family

Women Caught in the Middle »

Wives become wives by going to the Mayor and or Church to have their wedding registered. The wives have many things to do in order to have a descent wedding. This means that most of the time they have to inform to others about their wedding, receive gifts and say thank you in return. A wedding list is difficult to make. That is why there is now wedding consultants. They often work in malls. In case of weddings, there is often the question of bread winner. In most societies the man and the woman don’t work and this is hard to understand because unless you are a well known lawyer how can your wife stay at home.

Some economists have thought about this. There are some economist which are against divorce, others that favour divorce and others that favor no marriage. Grandmothers are the guardian of traditions and often they keep the grandchildren while their parents are away. A woman is also a relative and a friend and this is the hardest part. As a relative a woman is judged by how she behaves and gives advice. And as a friend a woman is a confident who is ready to alleviate sufferings by showing her love. The Beijing Summit organized by the United Nations is an example on how women have attracted the attention of the world on their situation. The famous representations of women who have are the Little Mermaid, Empress Elizabeth of Austria and Germany (“Sissi”) and Liz Taylor for example.