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Art and the Brain

February 29, 2012

Upcoming BrainTalk on March 22, 2012

Art and the Brain: How dance, music, sports, and storytelling may support critical cognitive development in children and youth


On Thursday evening, March 22, Dr. Adele Diamond will talk about executive functions and how they develop in children and youth, at the Paetzold Theatre at Vancouver General Hospital. Executive functions are higher order cognitive functions that play a large role in determining a person’s success in school and in life. Some examples of executive functions include planning, problem solving, multi-tasking, working memory (holding several things in your mind at once and working through them), verbal reasoning, inhibition, mental flexibility, initiation and monitoring of actions. In Dr. Diamond’s talk, she will review how and why dance, music, sports and storytelling, may well support the development of executive functions in children and youth. Dr. Diamond has shown that executive function skills can be improved in very young children in regular classrooms, without specialists or expensive equipment. She is currently investigating how play, the arts, dance, storytelling, and physical activity may improve executive functions and academic and mental health outcomes.

A leader in two fields, psychology and neuroscience, Adele Diamond helped pioneer a now flourishing interdisciplinary field, “developmental cognitive neuroscience.” For over 30 years, Adele Diamond has been studying the most complex human abilities (collectively referred to as ‘executive functions,’ which include attention, self-control, and reasoning). As the Canada Research Chair Tier 1 Professor in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience at UBC, Professor Diamond studies how executive functions can be modified by the environment, modulated by genetics and neurochemistry, become derailed in disorders, and can be improved by effective programs and interventions. Her work has helped change medical practice for the treatment of PKU (phenylketonuria) and for the inattentive type of ADHD.

Adele Diamond received her BA from Swarthmore College Phi Beta Kappa (in Sociology-Anthropology & Psychology), her PhD from Harvard (in Developmental Psychology), and was a postdoctoral fellow at Yale Medical School with Patricia Goldman-Rakic (in Neuroanatomy). In recognition of her research accomplishments she has received numerous awards, including being elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. She was named one of the “2000 Outstanding Women of the 20th Century,” a Distinguished Scientific Lecturer by the APA, and a “Woman of Distinction” by the YWCA.
Shazeen Suleman will present for ten minutes prior to Dr. Diamond’s talk. Shazeen will talk about a music program for children run in the downtown eastside of Vancouver. The music program was a successful pilot program for a developmental screening program in early childhood. Shazeen is the co-founder of the MusicBox Children’s Charity, a youth-run national organization that provides free music education to children with physical, social or financial disadvantages. She also is the co-chair for Medicina: the Arts and Healing, a student-run conference on the integration between medicine and the arts.
Below please find a PDF of the slides from the talk. The video is not available as we still have not been able to find a volunteer video editor, and do not have funds to pay for a professional videographer. If you know of anyone, please do let us know.
BrainTalks Art and the Brain PDF Dr. Adele Diamond
  1. February 29, 2012 2:34 am

    Sounds fascinating – what time on March 22nd?

  2. April 17, 2012 4:14 am

    Hi, this was a great talk and I’m just wondering when the video or slides for this talk might be available online? Thanks!

    • mlove permalink*
      April 18, 2012 5:17 am

      It was a great talk! I have just posted the slides. The video is not available as we need a volunteer videographer to edit the final video. So far, we haven’t been able to find such a person in Vancouver, and don’t have the funding to hire a professional. If you know of someone, do let us know at

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