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Music & Silence: The Anticipating Brain

brainmusic.jpgA recent Stanford study used fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) to catch glimpses of the areas of the brain that kick into action during various activities.

In trying to gain insight into how the brain sorts for sense in the chaos around it, the team made an interesting discovery about how the brain listens to music.

As a musician myself, I have always been aware of a sense of leaning towards what comes after a pause in music. I'm interested to learn from this research that it's not just musicians that do this. This study shows that listening to classical music: "engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory. Peak brain activity occurred during a short period of silence between musical movements—when seemingly nothing was happening."

Classical music contains passages of active melodies, interspersed with brief rest and pauses; in the periods between movements those pauses can last a second or two and it is then that the brain reveals it's inclination to actively anticipate what might come next.

you can see a video clip of how the brain anticipates during the pauses in music here

What’s next?

tell me more about music and my brain...

Recommended reads:
This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession
The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit

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