BY THE TIME YOU TURN 20, YOU’VE SPENT THE VAST MAJORITY OF YOUR LIFETIME LEARNING. BUT DON’T THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU’RE 30, 40, 50 OR EVEN 60 THAT LEARNING SHOULD EVER STOP. LIKE THE OLD SAYING GOES, IF YOU DON’T USE IT, YOU’LL LOSE IT. KEEP THE LEFT AND R
There’s a theory that says the two hemispheres of the human brain control more logical, analytical and objective while those “right-brained” among us are said to be more intuitive, creative, thoughtful and subjective. While the left- vs right-brain theory might be just that – a theory (even a myth) – what is true is that your brain is a muscle that needs to be trained. When you consider ‘learning’ and ‘education’, many think of school kids, oversized hats and loaded backpacks. But learning shouldn’t be limited to the early years. Learning is something to be enjoyed throughout our entire lives. And just like legs’ day at the gym, you don’t want to skip training your brain via learning. According to Alzheimer’s Australia, keeping your brain active is important to keep it functioning well. “Scientists have found that challenging the brain with new activities helps to build new brain cells and strengthen connections between them,” the Alzheimer’s Australia website states. “This helps to give the brain more ‘reserve’ or ‘back up’ so that it can cope better and keep working properly if any brain cells are damaged or die. “Mental exercise may also protect against accumulation of damaging proteins in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease. “As we grow older we tend to prefer doing the things we’ve always done, tasks that we are familiar with - and that’s understandable - but the brain a new language, taking up a new sport, doing a course in something you’ve always wanted to do - anything really, as long as it’s learning something new. “Challenge yourself often and keep learning new things throughout life. Higher levels of mental activity throughout life are consistently associated with better brain function and reduced risk of cognitive decline and dementia.” So, which hemisphere of your brain could you sharpen? What is that ‘thing’, something new? Here are some ideas suited to each hemisphere…
LEFT BRAIN: MUSIC
The thought of starting music lessons probably takes you back to the days of dreaded piano lessons, squeaky clarinets and school band. But music is actually a great skill to pick up as an adult. Not only is it satisfying to create the music to people’s ears, but it’s the brain’s equivalent of a full body workout. “Learning an instrument strengthens the corpus callosum, which is a bundle Georgie from Byron Community College. “It’s one of the only skills to combine the linguistic and mathematical precision of the left side of the brain with the creative domain of the right side.” The result? Musicians are more than just skilled performers – they have above average abilities in executive functioning, problem solving, memory and more! Byron Community College runs vocational and general courses throughout the year and has some great music classes coming up in Term 3.
RIGHT BRAIN: PAINTING/ART
It’s not often in life that you get something for free but that’s exactly what The Brisbane-based global art supplies company invites art enthusiasts of Brisbane CBD every week. There is a broad mix of free sessions and paid art creative muscle (the right side, of course!) in a non-judgmental space, as you'll see in the images above. Ironlak creative director Luke Shirlaw says their classes are designed for participants of all ages and all levels – right from kids up to professionals. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never even picked up a marker before. Our classes are taught by a variety of artists who guide participants through the process of making art in their chosen medium,” Luke says. “We love seeing people come to our classes who are unsure of their ability with a paint brush, aerosol paint or even a pencil. Our artists provide a relaxed lesson and help them unwind, open up and have fun! This allows class participants to leave with not only new skills, but also a piece of art that many say they’ll be featuring in their own homes." including pencil drawing, watercolours, Ironlak ‘Pump Action’ paint markers, graphic markers, charcoal, pastels, acrylic paint, aerosol paint and mixed media. Art sessions are free (with equipment supplied) while hosted art classes require payment. Bookings for all are via the Eventbrite website. “July’s lineup includes some really exciting art classes with amazing Brisbane artists including Elana Mullaly, Buttons and The Brightsiders,” Luke says. “Ultimately, we want to help people of all backgrounds discover their inner artist and enhance the world through creativity – whatever their level of artistic expertise."