Different brains track music similarly


A recent study asked an interesting question: Do the brains of different people listening to the same music respond in the same way? A study out of Stanford University School of Medicine has found that they do.

It may be for this reason that music plays such an important role in the human experience across time and cultures.

fMRI used to watch people’s brains react to instrumental music

“We spend a lot of time listening to music – often in groups, and often in conjunction with synchronized movement and dance,” explained Vinod Menon, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the study’s senior author. He continued:

Here, we’ve shown for the first time that despite our individual differences in musical experiences and preferences, classical music elicits a highly consistent pattern of activity across individuals in several brain structures including those involved in movement planning, memory and attention.

Speech centers respond to music

The researchers discovered that the parts of the brain that were most active when hearing the classical music were those associated with speech and language – even though none was present in the music.

“A novelty of our work is that we identified brain structures that track the temporal evolution of the music over extended periods of time, similar to our everyday experience of music listening,” explained post-doctoral scholar Daniel Abrams, PhD, the study’s first author.

Clues to the autistic brain experience?

“Our method can be extended to a number of research domains that involve interpersonal communication,” Menon concluded. “We are particularly interested in language and social communication in autism. Do children with autism listen to speech the same way as typically developing children? If not, how are they processing information differently? Which brain regions are out of sync?”

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Stanford University Medical Center

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