Researchers have been studying at the brains of jazz musicians:
The scientists found that a region of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a broad portion of the front of the brain that extends to the sides, showed a slowdown in activity during improvisation. This area has been linked to planned actions and self-censoring, such as carefully deciding what words you might say at a job interview. Shutting down this area could lead to lowered inhibitions . . . .Read all about it:
The researchers also saw increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which sits in the center of the brain’s frontal lobe. This area has been linked with self-expression and activities that convey individuality, such as telling a story about yourself.
This Is Your Brain on Jazz (Johns Hopkins Medicine press release)
Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance: An fMRI Study of Jazz Improvisation (PLoS ONE)
"Self-Reliance" and jazz
All jazz posts (via del.icio.us)