The Dana Foundation, an organization with interests in neuroscience, immunology, and arts education, just released a three-year study that found that early training in the arts is possibly good for your brain. Neuroscientists and psychologists at several universities have now enhanced understanding of just how the arts might improve thinking, memory, and language skills. Music education is linked with the ability to control both short-term and long-term memory, geometric representation, and development of reading skills. Dance training improves thinking through mimicry and acting classes seem to expand language. Visual arts lessons outside the classroom during childhood are linked to improved math calculations; in retrospect, I wish I had more art lessons before I took on that advanced math class in high school.
Are smart people just naturally attracted to study art or perform music, dance, or drama? Or does early education in the arts actually cause changes in the brain that develop important components of cognition? Recent findings show that there may be some significant causal relationships between arts training and the brain's ability to learn.