Scientists link music and the brain

Researchers study the effects of music on thought processes and behavior.

The Jackson 5 sang, ” A B C / It’s easy as, 1 2 3 / As simple as, do re mi…” While it may seem like a fun rhyme, scientists and musicians from around the world were in Jerusalem this week to prove that the American singing sensations were onto something. The conference, which wraps up today, explored the surprising links between music and the brain.

Music on the mind (Shutterstock)

The conference, Music and Brains: The Surprising Link — An Interface between Music, Cognition and Neuroscience, was presented by the Interdisciplinary Center for Neural Computation (ICNC) at the Hebrew University’s Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Science. It mixed cutting-edge science with a variety of musical concerts.

Researchers presented topics such as music and language, and the effects of music on thought processes and behavior. Musical performances at the event included works by Bach, Brahms, Chopin, Mahler, Schubert as well as Arabic music.

Prof. Petr Janata, an Associate Professor at UC Davis in the Psychology Department, was one of the visiting presenters. He spoke about how music evokes autobiographical memories.

Janata told ISRAEL21c that when his research team plays short excerpts of songs from Billboard charts from people’s pasts, the music “elicits memories which can be seen in the brain scanner. We can describe musical pieces based on people’s memory.”

Moreover, music can improve the ability to differentiate sounds.

“Music helps certain cognitive functions. It helps how accurately we can imagine pitches, people’s verbal working memory, and the ability to keep in mind verbal information,” says Prof. Janata.

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About Viva Sarah Press

Viva Sarah Press is an associate editor and writer at ISRAEL21c. She has extensive experience in reporting/editing in the print, online and broadcast fields. Her work has been published by international media outlets including Israel Television, CNN, Reuters, The Jerusalem Post and Time Out.
  • risa

    Well, well. So scientists prove what was known back at Sumer. Music is the best mnemonic. 

  • risa

    Well, it’s nice that scientists have proved what was known back at Sumer — music is the best nmemonic aid. Certainly all the work on acoustic archaeology supports their findings.