by Rachel Griess
The Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience program at Colorado State University is co-hosting a series of brain and creativity activities featuring well-known pianist Bruce Adolphe, who uses music as a tool to heighten thinking.
The lectures and workshops are set Dec. 2-4 and are open to faculty and staff at CSU and in the Poudre School District, with a seminar and concert open to the public. The series is hosted in collaboration with Project Youth and Chamber Music and Poudre School District.
“As an interdisciplinary group on campus, MCIN is interested in engaging the public through diverse and creative outreach,” said Mike Tamkun, MCIN director and professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.
“Music is a valuable component for intellectual development, so we are interested in using this creative angle to connect and interact with community members, educators and neuroscience professionals,” Tamkun said.
Adolphe, composer-in-residence at the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, has teamed up with Project Youth and Chamber Music to educate teachers about the importance of improvisation and creativity in the classroom.
“He is highly recognized for his work with imaginative learning, and we want to draw in the Colorado community to impact change in our school systems,” said Jeptha Bernstein, project founder and artistic director. “It’s a professional development opportunity for educators of all levels and disciplines.”
In early November, Adolphe lectured at the Society of Neuroscience annual meeting in San Diego and encouraged those attending to “stimulate their imaginations” and to “light up their brains” with creative exercises. The event draws thousands of students and scientists from around the world.
“I’m not a neuroscientist, but I have helped design experiments and techniques that enhance the brain’s ability to process and connect to information,” Adolphe said.
His imaginative techniques trigger a child’s ability to build from an array of ideas, Bernstein said. During his presentations, Adolphe will reference his new book, “The Mind’s Ear,” which furthers his concept that improvisation spurs academic creativity and performance.
“Research strongly suggests that the brain is connected to music and the arts,” Adolphe said. “It opens up the senses and affects all aspects of thinking and feeling. This is good for education. Music and the arts have the value of making life more fun and interesting and enhance the entire learning experience.”
Adolphe notes the importance of creativity in all areas of research and education. He encourages college students to take the initiative to incorporate the arts into their lives.
“I’m very interested in hearing faculty ideas from both the school district and the university,” Adolphe said. “Through creative education, we can train students to be free, open-minded thinkers. Creativity stimulates divergent thinking. It helps students use their minds not simply to find answers but to ask more questions.”
CSU’s Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Neuroscience program focuses on interdisciplinary graduate education and research; it is housed in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and is one of CSU’s Centers of Research and Scholarly Excellence.