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Music And The Human Behavior Essay

1594 words - 7 pages

Music is much more than idle entertainment. It affects the brain in physical ways, altering pathways and stimulating certain areas to grow. Listening to music provides a temporary rise in cognitive IQ levels and learning it actually changes those levels on a more permanent basis. Professional musicians especially show marked differences in physical brain structure and cognitive thought processes.
In 1993, a study was done at the University of California, Irvine that showed a temporary improvement of IQ scores when students listened to ten minutes of a Mozart Sonata. The specific area of increased intelligence was spatial-temporal reasoning. This effect has since been dubbed “the ...view middle of the document...

What the media should be pushing then is the need for musical instruction.
A skilled and trained musician actually has a larger brain with more enhanced neural pathways as compared to a non-musician. A professional musician’s auditory cortex contains 130 percent more gray matter than that of non-musicians (Hotz, par. 5). This would suggest that exercise of the auditory area, as induced by the necessary rigorous and regular music practice for a professional musician, increases its growth. Musicians who began study early in life also appear to have an especially enhanced corpus callosum, or neural bridge, between the brain’s hemispheres. In fact it is up to 15 percent larger. (Hotz. Par. 5). This phenomenon is further exemplified by the findings that musicians process music with both ears, and therefore both hemispheres, while non-musicians process music with only their right ear (Mitchell, par. 3).
The region of the brain that processes music once it has entered through the auditory cortex has been located by researchers at Dartmouth who used an MRI machine to track blood flow in the brain while listening to a melody. While music activated several areas of the brain, there was one specific area that all of the subjects had in common for processing that music. That area is the rostromedial prefrontal cortex. It is the same area that is linked to memory and emotions and is separate from areas that process basic sounds that are not music (Hotz, par. 10). This may explain the strong link between music and emotions, with listeners being easily evoked emotionally by music and with skilled musicians insisting that their success is largely due to the fact that they can “feel” the music.
A unique phenomenon shows yet another neurological link to music. There are a very small number of people who are gifted with a special ability known as Synesthesia. These people experience multiple activation of the senses when exposed to certain stimuli. While some synesthates experience this phenomenon when seeing letters or seeing colors, the majority experience the sensation of multiple sensory activation when hearing music (Cytowic, 3.3). The most common form of this particular synesthesia area is “colored hearing”. To these persons, a chord, particular instrument or musical key will create a visual pattern for them, with specific colors and shapes always forming for specific tone qualities. It is a similar experience to an LSD induced hallucination, but no drugs are involved and synesthates report that the colors, shapes, etc. are the same every time they are presented with a particular chord or musical pitch (Cytowic, 2.1). This has been proven through numerous laboratory tests and retests (Cytowic, 4.5). One particular synesthete who was also a famous classical composer attempted to show the world what his synesthetic experience was like. Scriabin composed his symphony “Prometheus, The Poem of Fire” for not only orchestra, piano and...

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