“Undeniably, there is a biology of music,” according to Harvard University Medical School neurobiologist Mark Jude Tramo. He sees it as beyond question that there is specialization within the brain for the processing of music. Music is a biological part of life as surely as it is an aesthetic part. Studies as far back as 1990 found that the brain responds to harmony. Using a PET scanner to monitor changes in neural activity, neuroscientists at McGill University discovered that the part of the brain activated by music is dependent on whether or not the music is pleasant or dissonant.
The brain grows in response to musical training in the way a muscle responds to exercise. Researchers at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston discovered that male musicians have larger brains than men who have not had extensive musical training. The cerebellums, that part of the brain containing 70% of the total brain’s neurons, were 5% larger in expert male musicians. Researchers have found evidence of the power of music to affect neural activity no matter where they looked in the brain, from primitive regions found in animals to more recently evolved areas thought to be strictly human such as the frontal lobes. Harmony, melody and rhythm invoke distinct patterns of brain activity.
Listen to Music, Develop More Neurons
Music, the universal language of mood, emotion and desire, connects with us through a wide variety of neural systems. Researchers have discovered evidence that music stimulates specific regions of the brain responsible for memory, language and motor control. They have located specific areas of mental activity linked to the emotional responses elicited by music. An outstanding discovery recently has shown that children listening to music have increased neural development. Neurons are the oldest and longest cells in the body. You have many of the same neurons for your whole life.
Although other cells die and are replaced, many neurons are never replaced when they die. In fact, you have fewer neurons when you are old compared to when you are young. However , data published in November 1998 show that in one area of the brain (the hippocampus), neurons can in fact grow in adult humans as well. The discovery that new neurons develop in children can also mean that they can develop in an adult. It would seem a reasonable assumption, although it is not yet clear empirically if this is the case, but those that cherish and love music will tell you anecdotal evidence that they feel they do have more brain power than before.
By Paul Lenda
Re-arranged by Joi