Thursday, January 11, 2007

Your Brain on Music

Listening to classical music, subjects were seen first to trigger "the forebrain, as it analyzed the structure and meaning of the tune. Then the nucleus accumbus and ventral tegmental area activated to release dopamine, a chemical the brain's sense of reward. The cerebellum, an area normally associated with physical movement, reacted too, responding to what Dr. Levitin suspected was the brain's predictions of where the song was going to go. As the brain internalizes the tempo, rhythm and emotional peaks of a song, the cerebellum begins reacting every time the song produces tension..." The complex pattern of activation, shows that there are many potential ways that music can help learning - rote information can be made more memorable by adding rhythm (math and US History raps, grammar jingles), rhyme (sound matching), emotion and personal associations (more reward, motivation), or a movement association (cerebellum).

BTW, this music-on-the-brain researcher is transdisciplinary ...
"Before getting his PhD, he spent 15 years as a record producer, working with artists ranging from the Blue Oyster Cult to Chirs Isaak. While still in graduate school he helped Stevie Wonder assemble..." Daniel Levitin is now a neuroscientist at McGill.

If you're wondering whether to take the plunge re: music lessons for the kids, there will probably be some good brain results from such an undertaking (see below, but school also improves IQ). Interestingly, some of the largest effects of music lessons were seen on the index scores for Freedom from Distractibility and Processing Speed. This makes sense because of the working memory demands and complex coordination involved with musical training.

NYT: Your Brain on Music
Music Helps Your IQ
Music helps the brain learn better
Mnemonics at Wikiquote
Musical Mnemonics and Brain Oscillation, Abstract only
Multiplication Rock Jingles
Harcourt Math Jingles

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