Music and the Brain: A Fun Friday Find

Notes and Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus is a great discussion from World Science Fair 2009. Have you ever been driving along listening to the radio and suddenly a song plays and transports you to a different time or place? Have you ever wondered at the way music stirs your memories and emotion? Or have you ever stopped to think about how music, in its admittedly different forms, has been an integral part human of culture for as far back as we can study? Does music speak a particular primordial language that we all understand?

In this presentation Bobby McFerrin and three neuroscientists discuss the way the brain gets involved in music–the listening, physicality, participation and emotion. Essentially, music is a “whole nervous system activity”, involving many parts of the central nervous system that function nearly simultaneously. At one point in the talk pitch, tambre and rhythm defined and demonstrated. The researchers point out that certain intervals in music such as the minor third are prevalent in speech associated with negative emotions, but that no positive emotions are associated universally with a particular pitch.

The link to the full length presentation is here:Notes and Neurons.

But for fun today, get your whole brain involved and join Bobby McFerrin in this demonstration of the universality of the pentatonic scale.

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Michele Arduengo

Michele Arduengo

Supervisor, Digital Marketing Program Group at Promega Corporation
Michele earned her B.A. in biology at Wesleyan College in Macon, GA, and her PhD through the BCDB Program at Emory University in Atlanta, GA where she studied cell differentiation in the model system C. elegans. She taught on the faculty of Morningside University in Sioux City, IA, and continues to mentor science writers and teachers through volunteer activities. Michele supervises the digital marketing program group at Promega, leads the social media program and manages Promega Connections blog.

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