YOUR BRAIN ON MUSIC. Dr. Don P. Ester Professor of Music Education Ball State University Download this Powerpoint at dester.iweb.bsu.edu. The Brain. The Brain. Hemispheres and the Corpus Callosum. Left: Language Math Logical. Right: Spatial Reasoning Art Appreciation Intuitive.
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Dr. Don P. Ester
Professor of Music Education
Ball State University
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Hemispheres and the Corpus Callosum
Music perception, response, and performance
involves interplay of hemispheres via corpus callosum
Lobes of the Cerebrum
Perception - Cognition
Working (Short-term) Memory
Information is stored here for only 5-20 seconds; cognitive processing takes place at this stage.
Very limited capacity, which was first defined by Miller (1956) as being seven units (bits), plus or minus two.
Chunking can increase this limit by combining units into organized chunks, with each chunk then becoming a single unit.
Meaningful learning results when new information is organized so that it connects to stored knowledge and is therebyanchoredin long-term memory
Capacity appears to be unlimited
Neuromusical investigations are producing evidence that infants are born with neural mechanisms devoted exclusively to music.
Sample Interactions with Other Subjects
Students who studied music appreciation scored 46 points higher on the math portion of the SAT in 1995, and 39 points higher if they had music performance experiences, than those without music education.
Music lessons in childhood are associated with small but long-lasting increases in IQ.
Children who received early music/arts training displayed more significant gains in language and pre-literary skills, attention, visual-spatial skills, and numerical skills.
The Child’s Brain
The Musician’s Brain
25% increase in the number of auditory nerve cells dedicated to processing complex piano tones (vs. sine tones) in pianists vs. non-pianists.
Enlarged cerebellum in professional musicians for precise timing and accuracy of motor commands.
The brain learns and controls movements not muscles.
The neurons store the information for a complex movement; adjacent neurons communicate with each other and fire in a complex sequence – this sequence is stored in a specific area.
Early training grows the brain
More neurons dedicated to specific motor functions than “average” person
Later training changes the brain
Musician’s Brains:Empirical Evidence of Plasticity
Enlarged motor cortex areas
Especially if prolonged practice began before age 10
Corresponding to fingers 2-5 of left hand in violinists when prolonged practice began before age 10
Dominant vs. Non-dominant areas more equal in size
Enlarged front portion of corpus callosum
12% thicker nerve fibers in professional violinists and pianists, especially if prolonged practice began before age 7
Enlarged sensory areas
Enlarged areas of the auditory cortex, motor cortex, and visuospatial cortex appears to be a result of music learning
Musician’s Brains: Empirical Evidence of Plasticity
Enlarged Wernicke Region in musicians with absolute pitch
Strong linkage develops between the auditory cortex and motor cortex of performers as a result of habit (practice)
Playing an “air” scale can “cause” one to hear it; hearing a scale can “cause” fingers to move in response
By approximately age 11, neuron circuits that permit all kinds of perceptual and sensory discrimination, such as identifying pitch and rhythm, become closed off.
Most neuroscience research in the area of music, as extensive as it has been in recent years, has focused on the cognitive processes of music and the development of psychomotor skills. Little attention has been paid to the affective aspects of appreciating music.
The Limbic System - Center for Emotions
From: Poe’s Heart and the Mountain Climber, R. Restak, Three Rivers Press, 2004
At the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a melody causes infants to squirm and turn away. If they like a tune, they may coo.
Clinical examples from Musicophilia (Oliver Sacks) provide a fascinating picture of the interaction between the different aspects of brain function
Sensory-limbic hyperconnection leading to quickly emerging musical talent as a result of a lightning strike
Individuals may be very “musically talented” but rather indifferent to music (e.g., rather common to Asperger’s Syndrome), or they may be unable to carry a tune and cognitively challenged yet be passionately sensitive to music (e.g., William’s Syndrome).
Epileptic seizures (temporal lobe) induced by music
Audiation / Brainworms / Hallucinations
Imagining music stimulates the auditory cortex almost as strongly as actually listening to it.
Focal Dystonia - non-response or inaccurate response of motor movements
Music Therapy’s impact on expressive and receptive aphasia
Most common: association of color with pitches, modes, etc.
A man who works with his hands is a laborer;
A man who works with his hands and his brain is a craftsman;
A man who works with his hands and his brain and his heart is an artist.
In the cake of life, the arts are not frosting - they are baking soda.
-adapted from Tooby & Cosmides
I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy.
My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry, and porcelain.
-John Adams, President