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#655589 - 11/15/01 10:53 AM Neuroscience of Musicians' Brains
ChemicalGrl Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/03/01
Posts: 643
Loc: Durham, North Carolina
(Oops, didn't notice that Bill G. had already posted this very article in another forum. Mea culpa! But I'll leave this here anyway \:\) )

Hi all,

Figured you might be interested in this article. Seems that the neuroscientists have evidence that the brains of professional musicians are "wired" differently than those of amateur or non-musicians.


Professional musicians' brains respond to music differently, scientists say

By SETH HETTENA, Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (November 15, 2001 1:30 a.m. EST) - Researchers said Wednesday that the brain waves of professional musicians respond to music in a way that suggests they have an intuitive sense of the notes that amateurs don't have.

Neuroscientists, using brain-scanning MRI machines to peer inside the minds of professional German violinists, found they could hear the music simply by thinking about it, a skill amateurs in the study were unable to match.

The research offers insight into the inner workings of the brain and shows that musicians' brains are uniquely wired for sound, researchers said at the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience.

Neuroscientists often study how we hear and play music because it is one of the few activities that use many functions of the brain, including memory, learning, motor control, emotion, hearing and creativity, said Dr. Robert Zatorre of the Montreal Neurological Institute.

"It offers a window onto the highest levels of human cognition," Zatorre said.

In a study by researchers at the University of Tuebingen, the brains of eight violinists with German orchestras and eight amateurs were analyzed as they silently tapped out the first 16 bars of Mozart's violin concerto in G major.

Brain scans showed professionals had significant activity in the part of their brains that controlled hearing, said Dr. Gabriela Scheler of the University of Tuebingen.

"When the professionals move their fingers, they are also hearing the music in their heads," Scheler said.

Amateurs, by contrast, showed more activity in the motor cortex, the region that controls finger movements, suggesting they were more preoccupied with hitting the correct notes, she said.

Scheler, a former violinist with the Nuremberg Philharmonic Orchestra, said the findings suggest that professionals have "liberated" their minds from worrying about hitting the right notes. As a result, they are able to listen, judge and control their play, Scheler said.

"Presumably, this enhances the musical performance," she said.

In a second experiment, the violinists were asked to imagine playing the concerto without moving their fingers. Brain scans showed again that the professionals were hearing the music in their heads.

Zatorre, who has studied the brain's response to music for two decades, said it was the first time anyone had studied music and its relationship to motor control and imagery.

[ November 15, 2001: Message edited by: ChemicalGrl ]
Lyn F.

#655590 - 11/16/01 08:24 AM Re: Neuroscience of Musicians' Brains
Mike Pappadakis Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 207
Loc: Doylestown, PA

Very interesting. Thank you for posting that. Unfortunately, the size of their sample group was very small. A much larger sample group would have been more convincing. Very important if you're attempting to derive accurate conclusions about your observations.

I wonder what a scan of Beethoven's brain would have revealed? Seems to me that he would have possessed this ability.



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