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Musicians' Brain Waves Are Also in Tune

Study shows guitarists' minds in sync as they perform together

TUESDAY, March 17 (HealthDay News) -- When they play together, musicians' brain waves harmonize along with the music, according to new European research.

They analyzed electrical activity in the brains of eight pairs of guitarists as they played a short jazz-fusion melody together up to 60 times.

The study found that brain-wave similarities within and between the musicians' brains increased as they listened to the beat of a metronome as they prepared to play, and also when they actually began playing together.

As expected, the frontal and central regions of the guitarists' brains showed high synchronization. But the temporal and parietal regions also showed high synchronization in at least half the pairs of musicians. These regions may be involved in the processes involved in the coordinated action between the guitarists, or in enjoying the music, the researchers suggested.

"Our findings show that interpersonally coordinated actions are preceded and accompanied by between-brain oscillatory couplings," said study author Ulman Lindenberger of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin.

The findings didn't show whether the brain synchronization occurs first and causes the coordinated brain-wave readings, or whether it occurs in response to the beat of the metronome/music, and as the musicians track each others' movements and music.

The study, published in the journal BMC Neuroscience, is the first to analyze musicians' brain waves as they play together, the authors said.

More information

There's more on how the brain works at the University of Washington.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: BioMed Central, news release, March 16, 2009

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