And Now, More News About Music and Your Brain

Last month, I was invited to speak at an event staged by Ontario Shores, a mental health centre on the topic of music and the brain. This is an area of study that I find fascinating so I’m always looking for more cool stories to use. (There’s an Ongoing History of New Music episode on the topic coming up soon.)

First, FYIMusicNews linked to this video about the brain, music and music lessons.

Next is this report (via John) from the Las Vegas Review-Journal on how music can boost your health. An excerpt:

The idea that music provides an avenue for healing and solace isn’t new. Somehow, even on the worst of days, the words and timbre of a favorite song can often make the stresses melt away. Even during World Wars I and II, veterans hospitals brought in musicians to play for the soldiers, knowing that it could ease their suffering from the physical wounds and emotional trauma of combat.

But it’s only recently, with the advances in brain research, that science has begun to understand just how far-reaching music’s benefits can be for our physical and emotional health.

Because music is so complex, with our brains processing elements such as pitch, rhythm, key, meter and language all at once, it engages the mind more fully than any other sensory experience, lighting up multiple areas of the brain, said Concetta Tomaino, executive director of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in the Bronx, N.Y.

Continue reading.

John also points to this story on how bouncing babies to music can strengthen bonds with parents–and make the baby more cooperative.

Babies enjoying a little “Twist and Shout” have some important lessons to share about bonding and the power of music.

Those who were bounced to a melody while also watching a stranger move in sync to the same beat were much more helpful to that stranger afterwards than to adults who were out of sync or didn’t move at all, according to a study published Monday in the journal Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B.

The findings show music has important social effects on infants—as long as the little ones and their parents aren’t just listening passively, said Laura Cirelli, the study’s lead author and a researcher at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario.

Continue reading.

And finally, can you clap to a beat? Probably. But not everyone can. They’ve got “beat deafness.”


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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