“For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives
Older musicians perform better on cognitive tests than individuals who did not play an instrument, according to a new study published in the April issue of Neuropsychology.
While much research has been done to determine the cognitive benefits of musical activity by children, this is the first study to examine whether those benefits can extend across a lifetime.
“Musical activity throughout life may serve as a challenging cognitive exercise, making your brain fitter and more capable of accommodating the challenges of aging,” says lead researcher and clinical neuropsychologist Brenda Hanna-Pladdy of Emory University. “Since studying an instrument requires years of practice and learning, it may create alternate connections in the brain that could compensate for cognitive declines as we get older.”
The study enrolled 70 individuals age 60-83 who were divided into three groups. The participants either had no musical training, one to nine years of musical study or at least 10 years of musical training. All of the participants had similar levels of education and fitness, and didn’t show any evidence of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cognitive performance was measured by testing brain functions that typically decline as the body ages, and more dramatically deteriorate in neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.
The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice.
The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects, and cognitive flexibility, or the brain’s ability to adapt to new information.
“Based on previous research and our study results, we believe that both the years of musical participation and the age of acquisition are critical,” Hanna-Pladdy says. “There are crucial periods in brain plasticity that enhance learning, which may make it easier to learn a musical instrument before a certain age and thus may have a larger impact on brain development.”
“Couldn’t have said it better myself: “Our movie culture has descended into immaturity, deep and inhuman violence, a pervasive and flattened sexuality. It is an embarrassment” ~ Peggy Noonan”—http://t.co/33bJVV6c
“Gratitude is a form of wisdom. It is patient, loving, hopeful, and rigorously honest. It denies nothing, and it overlooks nothing. It looks reality full in the face and says: This is true, this is me, this is my situation, and I have the opportunity to build from here. This is my starting point, and I will succeed!
Researchers from the Broad Institute and Harvard University have developed a tool that can tackle large data sets in a way that no other software program can. Part of a suite of statistical tools called MINE, it can tease out multiple patterns hidden in health information from around the globe, statistics amassed from a season of major league baseball, data on the changing bacterial landscape of the gut, and much more. The researchers report their findings in a paper appearing in the December 16 issue of the journal Science.
From Facebook to physics to the global economy, the world is filled with data sets that could take a person hundreds of years to analyze by eye. Sophisticated computer programs can search these data sets with great speed, but fall short when researchers attempt to even-handedly detect different kinds of patterns in large data collections.
“There are massive data sets that we want to explore, and within them, there may be many relationships that we want to understand,” said Broad Institute associate member Pardis Sabeti, senior author of the paper and an assistant professor at the Center for Systems Biology at Harvard University. “The human eye is the best way to find these relationships, but these data sets are so vast that we can’t do that. This toolkit gives us a way of mining the data to look for relationships.”
PopTech 2011 Science Fellow Pardis Sabeti is leading development of a new massive scientific datamining tool.
Dave Winer wants us to ignore the rapid adoption of apps — primarily driven by the genius generation of smart phones now on the market — because he says they ‘are not the future’. This reminds me of the Chico Marx line, ‘Who are you going to believe? Me, or your own eyes?’
Well consider this: the Sundance Institute itself received NEA grants totaling $180,000 in 2011. The 14 Kickstarter-supported films appearing at Sundance received more than $370,000 from Kickstarter backers in 2011.
It’s not an apples-to-anything comparison, but it’s incredible nonetheless.
“How is one to live a moral and compassionate existence when one finds darkness not only in one’s culture but within oneself? There are simply no answers to some of the great pressing questions. You continue to live them out, making your life a worthy expression of leaning into the light ~Barry Lopez, Arctic Dreams”—