Musical Chess

As I drove to work yesterday I listened to a fascinating interview on our local Catholic radio station, KVSS. Their morning show featured a discussion with Kathleen McGee and Laura Buddenberg of Girls & Boys Town.

What fascinated me was a discussion around teenagers and why they so often appear not to think about the consequences of a given action. McGee explained that during the teen years young people simply don’t have the same kind of brain that adults do. Their brains are still growing and developing.

She described that the amygdala (which produces emotional action) has a disproportionate amount of control over teens, while the prefrontal cortex is still developing (the prefrontal cortex is the part of the brain that assists with discrimination, logical thinking, consequent action, and so forth).

But instead of merely offering this analysis, she shared that parents can help teens develop their prefrontal cortexes in two simple ways (here is what I found so fascinating):

  • Reading music helps develop this part of the brain – students should be enrolled in either vocal or instrumental music to develop their ability to read music
  • Playing games of strategy develop this part of the brain – teenagers should learn and play chess or other similar games

If you have a young person in the house, start now by teaching them to play chess, and get them involved in music as well. Both are past-times that can provide most people with a lifetime of enjoyment and help keep their brains sharp, too.

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