Archive for the ‘M. A. from L. A.’ Category

Brains Down Under!

August 9, 2008

The Platform: AUSTRALIA, 2008

The Twitter: The Brain Makes Culture; Culture Makes the Brain

The Application:  Art and Design

It’s a rainy afternoon in Melbourne Australia and the subject of the embodied brain finds new avenues of discussion.   I am down under, here to lecture on “neuroaesthetics in art and design” at universities in Sydney and Melbourne, where the question of the ënculturated brain has come to the fore:  Sitting at the Chocolate Buddha Bar, eating yummy gyoza and kingfish sashimi, I had the chance to speak with a couple who took an interest in the idea that art has a direct”, phenomenal impact on the actual neural structure of the brain.  They posed the question:  What affect do different cultural art forms have on the human brain? Or to ask it another way, are Australian or Chinese brains different if they are raised on a different set of visual images?

If anyone was watching the opening ceremony of the 2008 Summer Olympics, one might be quick to say, the proof is in the pudding! Thousands of years evolution have clearly contributed to the neural networking that produced Chinese trapeze and firework aesthetics!  But does that mean Chinese brains are structurally different than Australian brains?

Neurologists of art and neuro-aesthetes tell us that “the brain makes culture and culture makes the brain. The reciprocal feedback that takes place during the course of an artist’s education is bound to take on both neural and cultural dimensions, especially where values of light, space, color, line, scale  — the fundamentals of visual composition are concerned.  Likewise, the novel human experiences like watching the bedazzling opening Olympic ceremony surely affects the brain, especially if one has never seen Chinese art, Chinese film, Chinese opera, or experienced the thrilling spectacle of fire-works.   Novelty, after all, is a hall-mark motif of those conditions that are ripe for changing brains. (Think of the Anti-Aging Benefits!)  Newness, the “first ëncounter,the stunning effect of unique invention –graps our ear and our eye and most assuredly our brain!

To the extent that neurologists can detect the differents in the ways in which different cultural traditions affect the human brain, is the extent to which we can begin to understand the value of culture and cultural tradition in training the brain.   Let us remember that as humans, we phylogenically share the potential to grow a brain with the same structural and developmental likeness, and with the structural capacity for neuroplasticity.   And as a specie, we have the capacity to grow a neural network that challenges our ethnocentric inclinations and enables us to share language, food,  music, images, sport — and as my  good Ozzie compadre Nick Tsoutas reminds me — love. (If you’re in Sydney, check out Nick’s latest efforts at Casula Powerhouse, entitled “Äustralian”.)“Nike Sawas, “Ätomic full of love, full of wonder”

SPACE SUIT YOGA LATE SUMMER/WINTER Neuroaesthetic TIP:   Seek Novelty! Expand Your Brain!

*Travel down under (or to any “foreign” country for that matter)

*Learn a new language 

*Test out your mind’s eye on a challenging piece of art

*Play Suduko during a 13 hour trip to Oz

*Surf the great oceans of the world!  (For you Ozzies, compare L. A. surf to Sydney Surf;  for all Northern Hemisphere folks, check out the azure blue waters of Bondi!)

 

From Aussieland,  where the most civilized and the most ancient meet ….. may the breath be with you!   And in these days of Olympic contest and glory,  may all brains be inspired to make culture so that culture inspires the growth and well-being of the each and every embodied brain!

Zoom Zooom!

Dr. G. a.k.a. M. A. from L. A.

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Greetings from TED Aspen 2008

February 28, 2008

M. A. from L. A. blogging from TEDAspen 2008As promised, I’m writing from TED Aspen after a roaring first day! You can read more about the first day line up on the TED website/blog section (www.ted.com), but here are my comments for the day:

You can imagine how pleased I am to be amongst a group of keen pattern recognizers and visionary conceptualizers (corporate “belief monks” opines one TEDster) for 4 days!!! And you might guess how lucky I felt to witness Day I presentations by the likes of palentoanthropologist Louise Leakey (of the esteemed Leakey family!), neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor (former stroke victim) spiritual teacher Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, expert (comedian) John Hodgman, particle physicist Patricia Burchat and palentologist Peter Ward show how the micro is connected to the macro, the brain to the mind, the breath to non-violence, the indeterminate universe to Sheherazad like story telling (with tongue firmly planted in cheek)… and the human to other uprights standing great apes! A brilliant orchestration of ideas, shared by a brilliant roster of people sharing their research and gifts.2297169223_5669507e8a.jpgJill Bolton Taylor, neuroanatomist, TED 2008, Day 1: Who Are WeSri Sri Ravi Shankar, spiritual teacher, The Art of Living, TED 2008, Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

John Hodgman, Expert (geek celebrity), TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

Patricia Burchat, Particle physicist, TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

Peter Ward, Paleontologist, TED 2008, Day 1: What is our place in the universe?

I saw a pattern in the talks: drawing on ancient technologies and survival skills to survive our present, whether it’s knowing the size of the skull of our African homonid forbearers or learning to exploit our “reptitilian potential” to produce H2S to survive possible great cosmic catastrophes! And of course, the ancient practice of developing elegant neuroplasticity and restoration of the body/mind by means of breathing practice and ritual. Talks by Anthropologist Wade Davis, Jill Bolton Taylor and Sri Sri Ravi Shankar gave heartfelt, intelligent presentations on how we can balance our understanding of our minds, ourselves and the complex world in which we live by engaging awareness of breath, ritual and the right hemisphere of our brains!2297169283_d0811cb35a.jpg

Smart Education? Comedic interludes (John Hodgman) and mind-blowing, poly rhythmic riffs and slides by Guitarist Kaki King. Kaki King, Guitarist, TED 2008 Day 1: What is our place in the universe?This is definitely education for the future!

Tomorrow I will offer to teach cellular respiration (one of the many restorative practices basic SpaceSuit Yoga) to the TEDsters during our breaks. Sri Sri Ravi Shankar will be offering meditation sessions at TED in Montery.

Stay tuned!

Zoom zoom,

DR. G.
Wednesday 11:07 p.m, Aspen Colorado