News Stories

Your Brain on Music

By age 9 months, babies can pick out sad music from happy pieces. Maybe we ALL start out with musicians' brains: It turns out that trained musicians really DO think differently than the rest of us?in fact?along with successful baseball players?they use their brains the same way that left-handers do.

Psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians use a creative technique called divergent thinking, which utilizes both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person. This is the same way that the brains of people who are left-handed function.

Researcher Bradley Folley says, "We were interested in how individuals who are naturally creative look at problems that are best solved by thinking 'out of the box.' We studied musicians because creative thinking is part of their daily experience, and we found that there were qualitative differences in the types of answers they gave to problems and in their associated brain activity." One explanation may be that many musicians must be able to use both hands independently to play their instruments.

A new study shows that 5 to 9-month-old babies can distinguish an upbeat melody, such as "Ode to Joy" from Beethoven?s Ninth Symphony, from gloomier compositions. Researcher Ross Flom says, "One of the first things babies understand communicatively is emotion, so for them the melody is the message. Our study showed that by nine months, babies are categorizing songs as happy or sad the same way that preschoolers and adults do."

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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