Friday, November 26, 2010

you never really forget how to pick a brain

All those years I spent toiling away in Neuroscience have paid off after all.

While I was planning BlogCon (beta), I was struck by the fact that so many of my music nerd friends were also passionate about other art forms - writing, theatre, photography, art. And it got me wondering if there was something peculiar about the musical brain that makes it adept at these other pursuits.

Turns out there is.

For more details, please read my latest BC Musician Magazine article, The Musician's Brain. Don't let the neuroanatomy scare you off.


Volly said...

Nice piece - you gave a lot of information on just one page.

I first heard in college, that music and math require similar skill sets. Not instantly apparent, but it makes sense when you think about it.

Toccata said...

I have often wondered if there is a difference between the brains of classical and jazz musicians. Classical music seems much more mathematical to me and jazz seems much more abstract. One computational the other theoretical. I don't know if that makes sense to you but jazz was always a bit of a mystery to me as was theoretical proofs. I often wondered if there wasn't a link.

I wish you would do a series of articles on The Musician's Brain.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Guilty, Volly, it's a pretty crammed full page!
The math/music connection does make some sense, in that there are established rules in both disciplines.

Interesting theory, Toccata, you could be onto something. I sometimes wonder, too, what compels a musician in either direction.
Maybe I should be applying for a government grant to scan the heads of classical and jazz musicians.

Allison said...

Thanks. Now, "Do you believvvvvvvvve in life after love?" will be ringing in my head all day.

Great piece, as always. :)

Anonymous said...

my computer won't open the file :(...that's what I get for running an old Mac.

My father's family were all musicians. He used to say to me, "Son you must have music in you because none of it ever came out." He thought that was hilarious. My revenge was taking up the squeezebox.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

So sorry about the Cher haunting, Al. I think we both need to blast the stereo to cleanse our minds.

I think you won that one, Mr Anchovy!
Sorry you can't open the file, though. I'll link the BCMM website when the new issue is featured.

bloody awful poetry said...

Great piece! Although I admit I skimmed over some of the brain terminology bits. I sort of wish I'd taken up my parents' offer to send me to classical piano lessons when I was 10. But when I was 10 I had the meanest music teacher ever in school and he turned me off learning theory or playing anything for the longest time.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Imagine how scholarly you would be now had the piano teacher not been such an ogre, BAP. You would not only have not skimmed over the neuroanatomy, you would have coined a few new areas.

phlegmfatale said...

Love love love your article. And it reminding me of something I learned in a movement class when you mentioned Einstein improvising on the violen to work through problems. There's something called cross-patterning, and making the brain work in unexpected, not-usual ways can jar us out of things like stuttering or or an inability to speak for people with autism, for example. Cross patterning can be achieved by having the person lift the right leg, bending at the knee whilst reaching over to touch the knee with the left hand, then reversing to lift the left knee to the right hand. Repeating this activity for about 30 seconds can jar the neural processes so that a stutterer can suddenly speak very clearly for a while. There's so much we don't understand of how our marvelous (well, in the case of you and me, O Fabulous One!) that it's a thrill when we unravel a teeny bit of the mystery. Music is the most glorious and unifying language known to man, imho, and I am delighted to hear yet more proof that it is vital to our progression as a species. :) Plus music helps one meet the coolest people!

Barbara Bruederlin said...

True story, Phlegmmy! Music is one powerful force!
That's a fascinating exercise, the cross-patterning that you explained. The brain has an amazing capacity for plasticity, so there is hope for me yet.