Local researchers are hoping little brains will pay big dividends: This spring, they’re launching a study that will follow kids for years as they learn music, karate, or neither. They want to understand the brain’s ability to change over time.

Our arts editor Kelly Bennett offers an in-depth look at the wide-ranging local groups that are involved, including the San Diego Youth Symphony’s Community Opus afterschool program in Chula Vista, the Neurosciences Institute and UC San Diego’s Center for Human Development.

“Existing research has shown cognitive and academic boosts that scientists attribute to music lessons,” Bennett writes. “But it’s rare to find resources to do the kind of long-term tracking for music and brain development that this study proposes.”

There’s a hurdle: Getting children to go and get their brains scanned, an experience that can be disconcerting, at the least, for the many adults who have undergone them (especially those with claustrophobia).

“Kids who agree to lie still in the MRI machine and watch a movie they bring from home — while the tube grunts, beeps and peers inside their heads — get to keep a picture of their brains,” Bennett writes.

In return, scientists will get a priceless glimpse at how our minds develop and learn.

Proposition A Explained

Quick: Describe what a project labor agreement is.

If you received your ballot book in the mail and are trying to figure out Proposition A in San Diego, we’ve compiled a five-step guide to understanding what’s at stake in the measure. It would ban the city from requiring project labor agreements on major construction efforts.

Here’s the shorter version: 1) watch a San Diego Explained video and 2) read a piece we did answering frequently asked questions about project labor agreements. Today’s piece can then take you to the new developments and recent debates. 

Get up to speed and let us know how you’re going to vote and why.

Mayoral Scorecard Keeps on Giving

KPBS is using our mayoral scorecard to press the candidates today and tomorrow on how they’re different from each other.

Here’s Nathan Fletcher on how he would not have signed Grover Norquist’s anti-tax pledge if given the chance today. And Bonnie Dumanis explains why she deserves a pension and future public lawyers do not.

Campaign Messaging Put in Context; Ex-DA Slams DA

The U-T put some perspective on a mailer sent by Carl DeMaio who claimed he cut his pay when he took office. He cut his auto allowance and turned down the pension.

DeMaio was eligible for a $9,600 annual car allowance.

That works out to 17,297 miles at the IRS reimbursement rate of 55.5 cents a mile. That’s enough miles to drive from downtown San Diego to Escondido, and back, five days a week, 52 weeks a year — with about 1,500 miles left over.

• A TV ad for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis shows a mock headline saying “DA charges school officials with corruption,” referring to her office’s prosecution of several school officials in South Bay.

Dumanis’ predecessor as DA, Paul Pfingst, is representing an accused former superintendent of South Bay high schools and says the ad is “contaminating the jury pool and it’s making it highly unlikely that my clients can get a fair trial in this county.”

The U-T also did a handy review of Dumanis’ experience as the top local prosecutor. We did a five-part series on her a couple of years ago.

Quick News Hits

• Augie Ghio, an East County fire chief and major player in local fire protection politics, is recovering from a motorcycle accident he suffered on Saturday morning, the U-T reports. As of Sunday, Ghio was reported to be in serious condition; the accident occurred in remote East County.  

• Here’s our weekly roundup of news about City Heights: A guide to understanding curfew sweeps, a controversial liquor store permit and what’s the neighborhood going to do without redevelopment?

• County Supervisor Bill Horn, who represents a big chunk of North County, is a big advocate of a public-private partnership called Prosperity on Purpose that’s supposed to boost the economy of the region. The partnership has gotten taxpayer money, and Horn says it has an “open process.”

Except it isn’t an open process, the NC Times finds. The paper says its “meetings so far have been closed to the general publiclv — except for the project’s invitation-only industry and public-sector panel leaders, and select members of the media.”

It’s not clear if the meetings must be made public.

The board of supervisors voted last week to give $98,000 more to Prosperity on Purpose, but two voted no. Their staff members said “Horn’s proposal violated county rules requiring that reinvestment grants be handed out only to capital projects,” the NCT reported.

Meanwhile, there’s no word on whether my proposed organization — Prosperity on a Total Random Basis — will get any traction.

Please contact Randy Dotinga directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga.

Randy Dotinga is a freelance contributor to Voice of San Diego. Please contact him directly at randydotinga@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter: twitter.com/rdotinga

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