The Importance of Music and brain Function

Brief musical training can increase the blood flow in the left hemisphere of our brain. This suggests that the areas responsible for music and language share common brain pathways.

These is one of the findings of a study carried out by undergraduate student Amy Spray and Dr G Meyer from the Department of Psychological Sciences at the University of Liverpool as part of a School of Psychology Summer Internship Scheme.They will present their research to the British Psychological Society annual conference today, Thursday 8 May 2014, hosted by the International Convention Centre in Birmingham.

Amy said: “The areas of our brain that process music and language are thought to be shared and previous research has suggested that musical training can lead to the increased use of the left hemisphere of the brain. This study looked into the modulatory effects that musical training could have on the use of the different sides of the brain when performing music and language tasks.”

Two separate studies were undertaken. Study one involved looking for patterns of brain activity of 14 musicians and nine non-musicians whilst they participated in music and word generation tasks. The results showed that patterns in the musician’s brains were similar in both tasks but this was not the case for the non-musicians.

Study two involved measuring patterns of brain activity in a different group of participants (non-musicians) who took part in a word generation task and a music perception task. In this study the measurements were also taken again following half an hour’s musical training. The measurements of brain activity taken before the musical training* showed no significant pattern of correlation. However, following the training significant similarities were found.

Amy explained: “It was fascinating to see that the similarities in blood flow signatures could be brought about after just half an hour of simple musical training.”

“This suggests that the correlated brain patterns were the result of using areas thought to be involved in language processing. Therefore we can assume that musical training results in a rapid change in the cognitive mechansims utilised for music perception and these shared mechanisms are usually employed for language.”

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The above story is based on materials provided by British Psychological Society (BPS).

Taken from Science Daily