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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Crossing Bridges that Connect the Arts, Cognitive Development, and the Brain


Crossing high bridges offers the opportunity to ponder views from a distance: to see connections between places at the ground level or ideas that are familiar, and to capture an overview of places or ideas that are yet to be explored. The purpose of this essay is to explore the figural bridges that connect the arts with cognitive development and the neurosciences. More precisely, the essay considers the role that visual images and sounds play in early life and in the arts, then turns to neurological understandings of cognitive development, and finally focuses on these bridging relationships to teaching about the arts. More broadly, this essay is part of the author's effort to create a framework for understanding the social construction and neurological organization of cognitive development.

The first view explores our human attraction to visual images in response to the environment and to the arts. This view considers prehistoric, early historic, and recent examples of humankind's contructed visual images. A second view explores our response to sounds in the environment and sounds associated with the arts. The connections that link our auditory perception with our visual memory are also given consideration. Music and literature serve to illustrate the significance of these auditory-visual connections. A third view explores neuroscientists' discoveries of how our brain processes and integrates the information we take in, and considers the contribution of the neurosciences to our understanding of cognitive development. A final view from the bridge explores the potential contribution of the arts toward enhanced cognitive development. This view is framed in terms of future research and an analysis of the implications for those who teach the arts.

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