News Stories

Music in the Brain

There may be a music center in the brain, but even though you have one, it doesn't necessarily mean you can hit a note when you sing. If you can't sing or play the guitar, it may be comforting to know that rock stars tend to die young.

In LiveScience.com, Ben Mauk writes that there may be a music center in the brain, although researchers have yet to find it. Brain scans have shown that the parts of the brain that react to music are the same parts that react to food, sex and drugs.

Do people cringe when you sing? Researchers have found that only 1 in 20 people truly has amusia, the technical term for tone deafness. Tests have shown that some people with bad singing voices HEAR music just fine. Amusics are a smaller group with a perceptual problem: They can't pick out differences in pitch or follow the simplest tunes.

The "white matter" in the brains of amusics is thinner, which might explain the problem: the worse the tone deafness, the thinner the white matter.

Maybe you should be glad you're tone deaf: rock and pop stars are more than twice as likely as the rest of the population to die an early death, and often within a few years of becoming famous. When how long pop stars survived once they had achieved chart success and become famous was compared with the expected longevity of the general population, the average age of death was 42 for North American stars and 35 for European stars. Long term drug or alcohol problems accounted for more than one in four of the deaths.

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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