Musically gifted brain
Just as short-term training increases the number of neurons that respond to sound, long-term training enhances nerve cell responses and even causes physical changes in the brain. The brain reactions of professional musicians are significantly different from the reactions of non-musicians, and some areas of their brain are overdeveloped.
In 1998, Christo Pantev of the University of Münster in Germany showed that when musicians listen to the piano, they have 25% more auditory zones than musicians. Children’s research also confirms the premise that early musical experience facilitates the musical development of the brain. In 2004, Antoine Shahin, Larry E. Roberts, and Laurel J. Trainor from McMaster University in Ontario recorded brain reactions of 4-5 year old children to piano sounds, violins, and pure tones. The guys in whose houses music was constantly played showed a higher activity of the auditory areas of the brain than those that were three years older, but they listened to little music.
According to Peter Schneider of the University of Heidelberg in Germany in 2002, the volume of the auditory cortex of musicians is 30% higher than that of people not related to music. In addition, they have a larger brain area involved in controlling the movements of the fingers necessary to play various instruments. In 1995, Thomas Elbert from the University of Constance (Germany) reported that the area of brain zones receiving sensory moves from the index, middle, ring fingers and little finger of the left hand was significantly greater among violinists than non-musicians (these fingers and make quick and complex movements while playing the instrument). On the other hand, scientists did not reveal any increase in the area of cortical zones receiving inputs from the right hand, in which the musician holds a bow and whose fingers do not make any special movements. And finally, in 2001, it was revealed that the trumpeter’s brain generates responses of increased amplitude only to the sounds of the trumpet, but not to the violin or piano.
Ode to joy or sorrow?
Researchers are studying not only the brain’s processing of the “acoustic” component of music, but also the processes by which it emotionally affects people. One of these works showed that physical reactions to music (in the form of goosebumps, tears, laughter, etc.) occur in 80% of adults. According to a 1995 survey by Jaak Panksepp of the University of Bowling Green, 70% of the several hundred people surveyed said they enjoyed music “because it gives rise to emotions and feelings.”
Until recently, the mechanisms of such reactions remained a mystery to scientists. However, a study of a patient suffering from bilateral damage to the temporal lobes, which affected the auditory cortex, prompted an answer to the question that tormented us. The patient retained normal intelligence and general memory, there are no difficulties with language and speech. But she does not recognize music (whether it’s old or previously well-known works or new ones that have just been listened to). The girl is not able to distinguish between two melodies, no matter how different they are. Nevertheless, she has normal emotional reactions to music of different genres, and her ability to identify emotions with the mood of a piece of music is absolutely adequate. We suggested that the temporal lobes of the brain are necessary for understanding the melody, but not for the appearance of a corresponding emotional reaction, in the development of which both the subcortical structures and the frontal lobes of the cortex participate.
In 2001, Anne Blood of McGill University attempted to identify areas of the brain involved in the development of emotional responses to music. The study used mild emotional stimuli associated with people’s reactions to consonances and dissonances. Consonances consonances include such musical intervals or chords, which are characterized by a simple ratio of the frequencies of their constituent sounds. As an example, we can give up to the first octave (frequency of about 260 Hz) and the salt of the same octave (frequency of about 390 Hz). The ratio of tones is 2: 3, which, at the same time, reproduces a harmony that is pleasant for hearing. On the contrary, until the first octave, the adjacent sharp sharp (with a frequency of 277 Hz) gives a complex frequency ratio of 8: 9, and when played simultaneously, they are perceived as an unpleasant chord.
How does the brain respond to harmonious and dissonant combinations of tones? His images obtained using positron emission tomography while listening to test tones of consonance-consonance and dissonance showed that various areas are involved in the development of emotional reactions. Consonance chords activated the orbitofrontal region of the cortex (part of the cerebral reward system) of the right hemisphere, as well as part of the region located under the corpus callosum.