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Mind Games: Music, Emotions, and the Brain

 by Bennett Gordon

Tags: Science, brains, neurology, music, emotions, LiveScience, Science a GoGo,

Musician Jimmy OwensMusicians are able to identify emotions more quickly and accurately than non-musicians, according to research reported in LiveScience. For the experiment, participants watched a subtitled nature film and listened to a 250 millisecond clip of a baby crying. Using brain scans, the researchers found that musicians were more sensitive to the emotional content than non-musicians.

The test samples were quite small—only 30 people—but scientists hope the information could lead to innovative treatments for people with dyslexia or autism, who often have trouble processing the emotional content in sounds. Neuroscientist Nina Kraus told LiveScience, “It would not be a leap to suggest that children with language processing disorders may benefit from musical experience.”

Other brain scan tests have revealed that musicians’ brains actually sync up when they play music together, according to Science a GoGo. Researchers from the Max Plank Institute recorded the electrical activity in the brains of pairs of guitarists, and found that the brainwave patterns synchronized when the musicians played together. The tests aren’t done yet, however. The results don’t show whether the synchronization happens from watching and listening to the other person play music, or if the brainwaves sync first, and then facilitate the coordinated action.

Image by Tom Marcello, licensed under Creative Commons.

Sources: LiveScience, Science a GoGo