Sunday, March 2, 2008

The brain on jazz

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 . . . .

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.
Read all about it:

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)

Related reading
"Self-Reliance" and jazz
All jazz posts (via Pinboard)

(Thanks, Elaine!)

comments: 2

Anonymous said...

Jazz musicians would give the best job interviews then:)

Thanks for sharing this reasearch. Wanted to share this this post with you.

BTW - great "interests" from Bix Beiderbecke to Francis Poulenc.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for commenting and sharing, Drue. I like your observations on the wrong angle. Not too long ago, I changed seats at intermission and listened to Mozart's version of Handel's Messiah from a side balcony close to the front of the hall. That made for a very unusual experience, with the orchestra, singers, and the audience on the floor all within view.