This Is Your Brain On Music

25 Jan

Friday night blues

(Friends of mine, Naomi and Joy, blues dancing)

Being a musician, this article is massive awesome-sauce: How music touches the brain

Responding to Argentinian tango

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the research team, led by Dr. Vinoo Alluri from the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, recorded the brain responses of individuals who were listening to a piece of modern Argentinian tango.


The whole brain reacts to music

Comparing the brain responses and the musical features led to an interesting new discovery: the researchers found that listening to music activates not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also employs large-scale neural networks.

For instance, they discovered that the processing of musical pulse activates motor areas in the brain, supporting the idea that music and movement are closely intertwined.

Limbic areas of the brain, known to be associated with emotions, were found to be involved in rhythm and tonality processing.

And the processing of timbre was associated with activations in the so-called default mode network, which is assumed to be associated with mind-wandering and creativity.

And they say that science can’t tell us anything about art.

What’s interesting is how something like this would evolve. The only other species that can “hear” music like we do are birds, and its entire purpose seems to be sexual communication of sorts. Yes, I realize there are YouTube videos of dogs and such “dancing” to music, but they don’t actually hear the music; they can’t hear a beat and thus won’t actually be dancing to the music. Anyone who thinks so is just engaging in rampant anthrpomorphisim.

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Posted by on January 25, 2013 in cognitive science


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