Neuroscience is an incredibly interesting and exciting field of study to me. I know I've mentioned before that my graduate thesis-level presentation focuses on how neuroscience can help us to become more effective teachers because it enables us to understand the ideal conditions under which the brain learns.
I think the word "neuroscience" is scary to most of us in a non-science-related field. My top marks were rarely in science and math. . . And as such, I've tended to avoid those areas as I've aged. But, I believe this is a mistake. I may not have a future in scientific study, but I can learn how to be a better educator by comprehending the information scientific studies uncover about education, learning, psychology, children, and the brain.
Whenever I read an article about neuroscience, I have to keep a pencil nearby to write out some of the more complex concepts in "duh! terms," and I also draw pictures to help me understand what the author is describing. I also need the internet handy to look up words and other scientific explanations for concepts the author sometimes assume that anyone reading such an article would already understand. It is work, but what I learn is has so much impact for my teaching.
Today, I came across a review of a new book: The Tell-Tale Brain: A Neuroscientist's Quest for What Makes US Human by V.S. Ramachandran. And, I'm excited to share what I learned about it with you (and I'm buying the book from Amazon!).
Morgan Meis, from The Smart Set reviews the book which draw some neurological conclusions about art an aesthetics. The author, Ramachandran even speculates that neuroscience could imply that we all have an innate appreciation for art on a fundamental neurological level. Here is my favorite excerpt from the review:
"Making art and appreciating art seems to be universal in the human species. From prehistoric cave paintings to modern conceptualism, where you find human beings you also find art. At the same time, no one has ever been able to give a very good definition of art, to explain in any rigorous and satisfying way what it is that human beings are up to when they make art and when they like art. It is a subject that touches on the strangeness of consciousness, the felt sense of being human that all of us experience every day but that is so resistant to explanation or analysis. Art is thus a kind of Holy Grail to those who seek to explain the murkiest aspects of the human consciousness.
Theories of art have proliferated for as long as we've had philosophy and theory. All of them have tried, in one way or another to elucidate general principles. The problem, as Ramachandran understands it, is that we simply haven't know enough about how the brain operates. Now, he says, that situation has finally changed. He claims specifically that 'out knowledge of human vision and of the brain is now sophisticated enough that we can speculate intelligently on the neural basis of art and maybe begin to construct a scientific theory of artistic experience."
Interestingly enough another writer has rebutted that neuroscience has no ability to explain self, and thus art. Click here to read.