MUSIC AND THE BRAIN
HOW DOES THE BRAIN REACT TO MUSIC?
It was previously thought that music only affected the right brain - the creative hemisphere - whereas the left hemisphere was left to logical thinking. By monitoring brainwaves, scientists have recorded electrical activity in many
different cortices on both the left and right hemispheres.
The brain is divided into lobes to help identify anatomical locations of the cortices (the outer layer where most activity occurs.) The four lobes are: (1) frontal (2) parietal (3) temporal (4) occipital. The former three are directly affected
by music. The later, the occipital lobe, has been found to have secondary responses to music.
The prefrontal cortex is active when the brain analyzes rhythms. It is involved with complex behavioral and social decisions.
Lyrics are the aspect of music that trigger a response to Brocas area, which is associated with language production. Broca and Wernicke’s areas work together with aspects of language.
Good music can have secondary responses, which seem involuntary. The stimulation of neurons in the motor cortex is what causes ones toe to tap along with the music.
4. Auditory Cortex (See Below)
The auditory cortex plays a major role in assessing the pitch and volume of the sound that enters the ear. The ear translates the sound it hears to responses that the auditory cortex can analyze.
Wernickes area is crucial to language comprehension. It works together with Brocas area in aspects of language.
6. Visual Cortex
The visual cortex can respond to music by conjuring up images associated with a piece of music. Memories from a piece of music are triggered to produce these images.
7. Right cerebellum
The right cerebellum is involved with analyzing rhythms and more mechanical aspects of music. The more complex the rhythm, the more areas of the cerebellum are involved.
The hypothalamus is located above the brain stem and produces chemicals for the rest of the body. Dopamine is a chemical that controls the feelings associated with pleasure and reward. Listening to music that triggers happy memories
releases dopamine to the rest of the body.
HOW DOES music TRAVEL TO THE BRAIN?
The ear translates sound waves into signals that can be interpreted by the brain.
The pinna is the visible part of the ear. It collects sound waves and channels them to the ear canal.
The eardrum vibrates as the sound waves travel through the ear canal.
The ear canal amplifies the sound waves collected by the pinna.
The cochlea is filled with fluid that activates 25,000 nerve endings. The nerve endings take the vibrations and turn into electrical impulses that are carried to the brain.
The auditory (or cochlea) nerve carries signals to the brain from the cochlea.
The occipital lobe is associated with interpreting the information that is transmitted through the retinas of the eyes. Music can trigger activity in the visual cortex.
The cerebellum translates to mean 'Tittle brain.” It carries out basic human functions, such as balance and basic facets of memory and learning.
The frontal lobe is associated with reasoning, motor skills and higher-level thinking. Cortices on the frontal lobe associated with music are the prefrontal cortex, broca’s area and the motor cortex.
The parietal lobe is associated with the senses; however, the left parietal cortex is used when analyzing rhythms. It works with the left frontal cortex and the right cerebellum.
The temporal lobe contains the auditory cortex. Information from music is taken in through the ear and is processed in the auditory cortex. Cortices associated with memories, speech production and language are also found on the