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The Neuroscience Of Music Essay

1461 words - 6 pages

The Neuroscience of Music
One could approach any random stranger on the street and ask for a favorite song of theirs; they’d have it in a few seconds. Everyone knows the tingling feeling that rushes down your spine when your favorite part of a song comes up. And yet, I seriously doubt anyone would be able to explain how they recognize these things so candidly, or why their mind is so responsive to the phenomenon of music. The field of neuroscience as it relates to music has only just begun to be explored, and it’s growing fast. Music has no biological basis in our evolution (Petr, “Jazzing Up Neuroscience”), and until very recently has been given little thought. The truth of it is, though, music the way we see it goes far deeper into the way it effects our innermost thoughts than most of us realize. Dancing and moving to music, the sensations during melodic verses, even our ability to recall lyrics and tunes with incredible accuracy...it all ties back to the biochemistry in our brain. Modern science shows that music can reach out into our minds as far as memory, emotions, and of course auditory and motor functions, though most people would be surprised at just how gripping and entire the effects on these aspects of our brain can be.
Part of the reason radio jingles and music in the background of commercials make modern advertising so successful is because of the strong bond between music and memory. People’s ability to recall lyrics in a snap, hum show tunes they heard in a window display as they walk down the street, and even performing music the way we do roots from that music being firmly planted in our memories. 8 years ago there was a news article in the New York Times that looked into this relationship a bit, including a recent experiment by Dr. Daniel Levitin. An emerging neuroscientist at Stanford University, Levitin randomly selected passer-byers from off the street and asked them to sing one of their favorite songs, from memory (Thompson, “Music Of The Hemispheres”). The results were extraordinary. “Most people could hit the tempo of the original song within a four-percent margin of error, and two-thirds sang within a semitone of the original pitch, a level of accuracy that wouldn’t embarrass a pro” (Thompson). That average people right off the streets of Stanford, California, who might’ve never had a bit of musical training in their life, were able to perform at that level of accuracy is quite remarkable, basic and incomplex as it may seem. The reason for this is the multiple reactions that music triggers in the brain. One of these reactions, which occurs within seconds of hearing music, is multiple triggerings of Broca’s area (area of the brain that is associated with memory) (Thompson). Complexes that are usually affected are the striatum and amygdala, both of which are strongly associated with storage and recollection of memory. People listen to music with an incredibly high level of activity in these parts of the brain, which...

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