STANFORD, Calif. Do the brains of different people listening to the same piece of music actually respond in the same way? An imaging study by Stanford University School of Medicine scientists says the answer is yes, which may in part explain why music plays such a big role in our social existence.
The investigators used functional magnetic resonance imaging to identify a distributed network of several brain structures whose activity levels waxed and waned in a strikingly similar pattern among study participants as they listened to classical music they'd never heard before. The results will be published online April 11 in the European Journal of Neuroscience.
"We spend a lot of time listening to music often in groups, and often in conjunction with synchronized movement and dance," said Vinod Menon, PhD, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the study's senior author. "Here, we've shown for the first time that despite our individual differences in musical experiences and preferences, classical music elicits a highly consistent pattern of activity across individuals in several brain structures including those involved in movement planning, memory and attention."
The notion that healthy subjects respond to complex sounds in the same way, Menon said, could provide novel insights into how individuals with language and speech disorders might listen to and track information differently from the rest of us.
The new study is one in a series of collaborations between Menon and co-author Daniel Levitin, PhD, a psychology professor at McGill University in Montreal, dating back to when Levitin was a visiting scholar at Stanford several years ago.
To make sure it was music, not language, that study participants' brains would be processing, Menon's group used music that had no lyrics. Also excluded was anything participants had heard before, in order to eliminate the confounding effects of having some partic
|Contact: Bruce Goldman|
Stanford University Medical Center