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Music is all around us. At the sound of a powerful orchestral crescendo, tears come to my eyes and goosebumps run down my back. The musical accompaniment enhances the artistic…

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Mozart effect (part 1)
Listening to Mozart's music increases our brain activity. After listening to Mozart, the people who answer the standard IQ test demonstrate increased intelligence. This phenomenon discovered by some scientists was…

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Musically gifted brain

Just as short-term learning increases the number of neurons that respond to sound, long-term learning increases the responses of nerve cells and even causes physical changes in the brain. Brain reactions of professional musicians differ significantly from those of non-musicians, and some areas of their brain are over-developed.

In 1998, Christo Pantev (Christo Pantev) from the University of münster in Germany showed that when musicians listen to piano playing, the area of auditory zones reacting to music, they have 25% more than non-musicians. Studies of children also confirm the assumption that early musical experience facilitates the “musical” development of the brain. In 2004 Antoine Shahin (Shahin Antoine), Larry Roberts (Larry E. Roberts) and Laurel Trainor (Laurel J. Trainor) from McMaster University in Ontario recorded the reaction of the brain 4-5 year old children to the sounds of piano, violin and pure tones. The children in whose homes the music constantly sounded, revealed a higher activity of the auditory areas of the brain than those who were three years older, but the music listened a little.

As reported in 2002, Peter Schneider (Peter Schneider) from the University of Heidelberg in Germany, the volume of the auditory cortex of musicians 30% more than people who are not related to music. In addition, they have a large area of the brain involved in the management of finger movements necessary for playing various instruments. In 1995. Thomas Elbert of the University of Constance (Germany) reported that the area of the brain zones receiving sensory moves from the index, middle, ring finger and little finger of the left hand of the violinists was much larger than that of the non-musicians (these fingers make quick and complex movements while playing the instrument). On the other hand, scientists have not found any increase in the area of the cortical zones receiving inputs from the right hand, in which the musician holds a bow and fingers which do not make special movements. And finally, in 2001. it was found that the brain of trumpeters generates high-amplitude responses only to the sounds of the trumpet, but not the violin or piano.

Ode to joy or sorrow?

Researchers are studying not only the processing of the brain “acoustic” component of music, but also the processes by which it emotionally affects people. In one of these works it was shown that physical reactions to music (in the form of goosebumps, tears, laughter, etc.) occur in 80% of adults. According to a survey conducted in 1995 by Panksepp Jaak (Jaak Panksepp) from University, Bowling green, 70% of the several hundred respondents said they enjoy the music, “because it generates emotions and feelings”.
Until recently, the mechanisms of such reactions remained a mystery to scientists. However, the study of a patient suffering from bilateral damage to the temporal lobes, which affected the area of the auditory cortex, prompted the answer to the question that tormented us. The patient remained normal intelligence and General memory, there are no difficulties with language and speech. But the music (be it old and above well-known works or new, just listened) she doesn’t know. The girl is not able to distinguish between two melodies, no matter how different they may be. Nevertheless, she has normal emotional reactions to music of different genres, and her ability to identify emotions with the mood of the musical work is absolutely adequate. We have suggested that the temporal lobes of the brain are necessary for understanding the melody, but not for the emergence of an appropriate emotional reaction, in the development of which both subcortical structures and frontal lobes of the cortex participate.

In 2001, Anne blood of McGill University attempted to identify areas of the brain involved in the development of emotional responses to music. The study used weak emotional stimuli associated with people’s reactions to consonances and dissonances. Consonance consonances include such musical intervals or chords, which are characterized by a simple ratio of the frequencies of their constituent sounds. As an example, the first octave (frequency of about 260 Hz) and the salt of the same octave (frequency of about 390 Hz). The ratio of tones is 2:3, which at the same time generates a pleasant sound for the ear. On the contrary, up to the first octave and the neighboring do-sharp (277 Hz) give a complex frequency ratio of 8:9, and at the same time are perceived as an unpleasant chord.

How does the brain react to harmonious and dissonant combinations of tones? His images obtained by positron emission tomography during listening of consonances and dissonances by the subjects showed that different areas participate in the development of emotional reactions. Consonance chords activated the orbitofrontal cortex (part of the brain reward system) of the right hemisphere, as well as part of the area located under the corpus callosum. Chords-dissonances evoked activation of right parahippocampal gyrus. Thus, two different systems of brain structures take part in the development of emotional experiences related to the perception of music. Scientists have revealed another mystery associated with the perception of music. When they scanned the brains of the musicians who were enjoying listening to the tunes, they found that the sounds triggered activation of a number of the same brain reward systems that are activated and under the influence of delicious food, sex and drugs.
The data obtained indicate that the perception of music has a biological nature and is mediated by a specific functional organization of the brain. It is clear to scientists that various aspects of musical information processing are related to the activities of numerous brain structures, some of which provide perception of music (for example, understanding of melody), while others mediate the development of emotional reactions.

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