February 13, 2013

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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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director

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