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Stanford study shows different brains have similar responses to music
Date:4/11/2013

ipants who had heard the musical selection before while others were hearing it for the first time. Using obscure pieces of music also avoided tripping off memories such as where participants were the first time they heard the selection.

The researchers settled on complete classical symphonic musical pieces by 18th-century English composer William Boyce, known to musical cognoscenti as "the English Bach" because his late-baroque compositions in some respects resembled those of the famed German composer. Boyce's works fit well into the canon of Western music but are little known to modern Americans.

Next, Menon's group recruited 17 right-handed participants (nine men and eight women) between the ages of 19 and 27 with little or no musical training and no previous knowledge of Boyce's works. (Conventional maps of brain anatomy are based on studies of right-handed people. Left-handed people's brains tend to deviate from that map.)

While participants listened to Boyce's music through headphones with their heads maintained in a fixed position inside an fMRI chamber, their brains were imaged for more than nine minutes. During this imaging session, participants also heard two types of "pseudo-musical" stimuli containing one or another attribute of music but lacking in others. In one case, all of the timing information in the music was obliterated, including the rhythm, with an effect akin to a harmonized hissing sound. The other pseudo-musical input involved maintaining the same rhythmic structure as in the Boyce piece but with each tone transformed by a mathematical algorithm to another tone so that the melodic and harmonic aspects were drastically altered.

The team identified a hierarchal network stretching from low-level auditory relay stations in the midbrain to high-level cortical brain structures related to working memory and attention, and beyond that to movement-planning areas in the cortex. These regions track structural elements
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Contact: Bruce Goldman
goldmanb@stanford.edu
650-725-2106
Stanford University Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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