Medical Mysteries of MusicOngoing History of New Music

Ongoing History: Getting in the musical zone

We’ve all had the experience of being in The Zone, times when we’re so deep into whatever we’re doing the world around us just disappears. Some people call this super-focused attention and enjoyment “flow.” Neuroscientists are really, really interested in how and why our brains enter this state.

One way they’ve been studying flow is by observing musicians as they improvise. These players, through practice and experience, can just “let it go,” allowing for specialized brain networks to operate without a lot of conscious thought. Wiring up these musicians to EEG machines, researchers discovered that the flow state lives in the left hemisphere of the brain in regions that deal with auditory processing and tactile senses. When activated, other parts of the brain that deal with conscious control dial down, allowing for intuition and feel to take over.

More work needs to be done, but this is another example of how music can help unravel the mysteries of that squishy stuff in our skulls.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38319 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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