Monday, December 1, 2008

This is your brain on music

Reference: Fick, S., & Shilts, E. (2008). This is your brain on music. Retrieved November 25, 2008, Canadian Geographic.


Summary: This article discusses the idea that music stimulates the brain in the same way that food, sex and drugs do. The researchers used a mapping mental activity to determine these results. The article is broken down into four categories: hearing music, imaging music, playing music, and reacting emotionally to music. Each category is described in full detail, and with accompanying diagrams. The first category, hearing music, discusses how the auditory cortex is organized. It explains that in the core of the cortex different musical elements such as pitch and volume are analyzed. In contrast, the “surrounding regions process more complex elements, such as timbre, melody and rhythm.” The second category, imagining music, discusses how singing music in your head stimulates the auditory cortex even though you are not actually hearing the tune. The third category, playing music, talks about how your brain is stimulated in many different ways when playing a musical instrument. In fact there are eight different regions of the brain being used. The final category, reacting emotionally to music, talks about reward structures in your inner brain. “These are the same areas that are activated when a hungry person eats, when an aroused person has sex, or when a drug addict snorts cocaine.”


Review: Overall this was an interesting article to read. The diagrams were quite useful and informative. I really liked how they numbered the parts of the brain being used. It made it clear and easy to understand exactly which areas of the brain that were being stimulated. I found it fascinating and had no clue how many areas of the brain were being used when playing music. It was astonishing actually. I think this would be a useful diagram to show to parents at schools, in terms of music advocacy.


Reflection: In terms of the content presented, I find it most interesting that the rewards section of the brain is stimulated when you hear a piece of music that you really enjoy. “If you are listening to a song you find pleasant, activity in the amygdala is inhibited. This is the part of the brain that is typically associated with negative emotion, such as fear.” This is useful information if you are a parent with a child who tends to get scared at night-time. In addition, perhaps this research could be used with trauma patients, or patients suffering from anxiety disorders. 

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