How does the brain learn music?

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tantalum
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How does the brain learn music?

Postby tantalum » Mon Oct 27, 2008 4:03 am UTC

I have noticed that when I'm playing piano and someone asks me a question, I am quite literally unable to respond. If I try to make any sound from my mouth, I feel like my language center is temporarily overloaded. It's like when Agent Smith asks neo, "Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?". Then suddenly I manage to make words come out of my mouth, but my hands simultaneously stop "speaking" - i.e. my hands stop playing piano.

This phenomena makes me feel as if humans hijack their language centers to create music. Evolutionarily, there is absolutely no reason for the human brain to develop a module specifically for learning music. I propose that humans learn music by representing it as a language in their brains. The adaptation that allowed humans to detect rhythm (like in poetry) is the same adaptation allowing us to keep the beat in music. The adaptation that allowed humans to detect inflections is the same adaptation that allows us to detect different pitches.

I remember reading about a study talking about how some people were more tone deaf/unable to distinguish beats. I wonder if these same people would have trouble in normal conversation?

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby alasse » Mon Oct 27, 2008 11:32 pm UTC

Interesting that you should say that. I talk while playing the piano fairly often, so I suggest that it's just something you would be able to do with practice. Talking and playing the piano are both pretty complicated on their own, so it would be difficult to do both together.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Qoppa » Tue Oct 28, 2008 1:16 am UTC

How do you explain Elton John then? That guy sings and plays piano at the same time!! But actually, I think it's more a matter that you're not used to it. I can only talk while playing piano when I know the piece inside out. If I need to think about what I'm doing, I can't talk, but if it's a piece I've been playing for years and is second nature to me, it's not too bad. It's still hard though, but not impossible.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Bassoon » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:21 am UTC

I can read while I'm playing or singing, but only if I gear myself up to it. I can't answer random questions because A: When one has a reed in one's mouth, one's mouth is incapacitated, and when I'm singing, things take longer to click.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Hayden » Tue Oct 28, 2008 2:28 am UTC

Well it's supposed to be really difficult to play and sing at the same time, but to answer a question whilst co-ordinating difficult hand movements for the piano I suppose would be another thing.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby studyinserendipity » Tue Oct 28, 2008 3:12 am UTC

Over the past year or so I've been very interested in this subject. I have been a piano teacher for about 8 years now, and have recently begun to research best strategies for teaching beginning pianists. This has caused me to think a great deal about how the brain learns music and processes it.
*Spoiler'd for interesting but not exactly on the path the thread has taken*
Unspoilered because I think it's interesting enough not to have to click on the stupid little spoiler button. :-)

I feel that language definitely plays a role in music with regards to reading notation; however, it may relate in a different way than one may think. I read a study somewhere that compared brain activity with reading words with brain activity when reading music which found the two to be different (I'll have to dig through my research article archive at some point to divulge the finer points and provide a citation). What I think is similar is the process of word-reading skill acquisition to notation-reading skill acquisition. When young children read, they often rely on concepts of print (such as reading left-right and top-bottom, spaces occur between words, etc.) to inform their comprehension. It's my belief that beginning musicians (pianists in particular, since that's what I'm studying and haven't worked on proving how generalized results are) also create concepts about notation that guide and inform their music learning.

I've also heard there's a great deal of "math-like" processing involved. This makes sense for the vertical component of music, especially when one considers the amount of chords in piano music. I'm assuming it has something to do with spatial processing (since I think at some point one begins to process chunks and recognize spatial patterns within chords to denote particular hand shapes and spaces on the keyboard) but have done little/no research on the subject, and so can't provide any solid proof or citations.

In terms of personal experience, I also find it hard to talk and play at the same time, although I can often do it with simple sentences provided speed isn't necessary. But I find it hard to talk and type at the same time too, or talk and draw, or talk and write, so I just figured it was an attention issue. :)
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby jbn » Tue Oct 28, 2008 12:24 pm UTC

Doing multiple things at once generally seems to be related to practice. I'll try and summarise/translate what my coursebook on cognitive psychology said on a pretty cool experiment:

Spelke et al. tested two students by teaching them to write words as they were being read to them, while they simultanesouly read a short story. They were sporadically tested for reading comprehension and speed, as well as writing the correct words. This experiment went on for 17 weeks, five days a week at one hour a time.

After six weeks their reading comprehension and speed had reached their normal levels and further investigation showed that the students could also categorise the words they'd written with regards to their meanings and detect relations beetween the words without their reading comprehension or speed being affected, it remained normal.

Some claimed that the writing of words was an automatic process that didn't conflict with the manual activity of reading. This was more or less disproven by Hirst et al. as they could prove in a similar experiment that their testsubjects could readily understand the words and sentences they'd written down and could remember them afterwards. Psychologist are generally agree that automatic processees happen without understanding.

Hirst et al. prefers the explanation that the subjects learned how to combine these specific tasks. Training is seemingly the dominant requirement for doing something like this and training dictates how much attention the task at hand demands.

Ref:
Hirst, W, Spelke, E S, Reave, C C, Caharack, G & Neisser, U (1980). Dividing attention without alteration or automaticity. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 15, 315-330
Spelke, E, Hirst, W & Neisser, U (1976). Skills of divided attention. Cognition, 4, 215-230

My thoughts?
I think it's awesome. I'm pretty talkative while gaming and even while playing games such as Dance Dance Revolution which requires movement, rhythm and generally physical acitivity. I can't for the life of me play the piano, but I imagine I'd learn to talk simultaneously with playing it as I rarely shut up if I don't have to.
I suggest everyone to try and learn how to do two things at once, see what can be combined and not. Come on, it'll be fun.

More seriously, I figure these experiments might be of interest if you're looking deeper into simultaneous activities.
Last edited by jbn on Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:16 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Bobber » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:00 pm UTC

jbn wrote:This experiment went on for 17 weeks, fem days a week at one hour a time.


What number does the word "fem" represent?

In Danish it means five. I wonder if that is what you meant.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby jbn » Tue Oct 28, 2008 10:17 pm UTC

Fix'd

Yup, five was the intention. Translated and summarised from swedish, minor muck-up there. Cheers for finding it.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby HareichiSan » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:21 am UTC

It sounds like me. I cannot talk with anyone while simultaniously playing drums, but I can with guitar. I don't play piano, but I assume it's the same.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby studyinserendipity » Thu Oct 30, 2008 1:51 am UTC

HareichiSan wrote:It sounds like me. I cannot talk with anyone while simultaniously playing drums, but I can with guitar. I don't play piano, but I assume it's the same.

I can talk while playing guitar too. I assume it's because the stuff I play on guitar is not nearly as complicated as my piano music. This links to a thought I had reading jbn's post:
Some claimed that the writing of words was an automatic process that didn't conflict with the manual activity of reading. This was more or less disproven by Hirst et al. as they could prove in a similar experiment that their testsubjects could readily understand the words and sentences they'd written down and could remember them afterwards. Psychologist are generally agree that automatic processees happen without understanding.

Hirst et al. prefers the explanation that the subjects learned how to combine these specific tasks. Training is seemingly the dominant requirement for doing something like this and training dictates how much attention the task at hand demands.

Although the creation of sentences was proven to be not automatic during the experiment, I think one must take into account the fact that many of the words the students were reading were probably automatic. If the reading material is at a comfortable independent reading level, their reading comprehension will probably not suffer with an additional task, because it is a level of reading that has become automatic (even if the comprehension piece is not). However, learning does not come from comfortable, independent level texts. It comes from mastering texts that are closer to a frustration level (a level the student could not read independently without considerable effort). {I DO have citations to go with this, but my texts are at my apt. and I am not, so you'll have to wait.} So even though the students may have learned new words to write while reading short stories, they are effectively only doing 'heavy learning' in ONE of the tasks. In the other one, they are relying on their automatic skills and skills they can use independently to maintain satisfactory results.

Similarly, I can do homework essays and write lessons while keeping track of plots watched on TV. If I try to replicate this while writing a research paper (which is more difficult task for me), I either end up with no idea what happened on TV (sometimes I forget what show I was even watching) or some really garbled and sub-par writing. When both tasks are relatively easy, I may succeed at dividing attention. If one is more difficult, the results may not be the same.

To tie it back to music, I think much of instrumental study is about making certain processes automatic so we can pay attention to other skills that we need to practice. In piano, I often ask my students to look at the music and think about what their hands are playing and decide which one should go on autopilot. Will we monitor what the autopilot hand is doing and check in every now and then to make sure it is not having problems? Sure; but most of our attention will be devoted to what the other hand is doing because it is a frustration-level task.

And if neither hand is very difficult? Then I should be practicing a different piece :)
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby tantalum » Thu Oct 30, 2008 6:29 am UTC

I wonder if you could consider playing the piano a language the same way sign language is a language. Does someone learning/using sign language invoke their language centers? Then it wouldn't be a stretch to say that playing piano requires processing power from the language centers.

Also - I play pretty advanced stuff - liszt etudes, chopin ballades, etc.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby jbn » Thu Oct 30, 2008 12:55 pm UTC

study: I can follow your thinking and have no trouble believing that you can cite references on it. As the text states, they learnt to read and perform the additional task without problems after roughly six weeks. I'm not certain the reading turns into what one would call an automatic process but the practice probably makes the reading a very easy task for the subjects. Being able to relate what they read afterwards supposedly signals that they didn't do the reading "automatically" or they would little or no recollection of the text. I'm not certain how proven this idea is but it's interesting.

There's probably plenty of research on whether sign-language and music triggers the same regions of the brain and it would be lovely if someone was sufficiently dedicated to dig into some peer-reviewed databases and see what's going on in that area of research I'd be thrilled to read a summary. But studyinserendipity mentioned a research paper and I rather should be getting mack to my swedish analogue of a master's thesis.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Rilian » Fri Oct 31, 2008 6:07 pm UTC

I find it difficult to talk while playing stepmania. I think that's because step mania requires nearly 100% concentration. For some reason, I find it slightly easier to talk while playing DDR. I suspect that it is because the notes are not as complicated in DDR and most of the effort consists in moving my feet, which doesn't require a lot of concentration.

I know this song called "my first piece", from a piano book from the 50's called Melody Joys for Girls and Boys. It's 2 pages long, but one time I played the whole song in about 5 seconds without looking at the keys. I was looking at my sister and we were talking and then suddenly my hands started playing, and I didn't know why they were doing it, or how, and then the song finished and we both stared at the piano and then ran off to tell my parents. Maybe highly accomplished musicians do this kind of thing all the time, but I am not any kind of musician.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Chai Kovsky » Fri Oct 31, 2008 11:58 pm UTC

As a pianist and a signer, there is no doubt in my mind that piano is not a language and is different from sign. If you don't believe me, try saying "I want a pizza" in piano. :D

It's difficult to talk while playing piano for the same reason it's difficult (at first) to talk and drive--you're diverting bloodflow to two different parts of your brain, both of which need quite a lot to function. Conscious piano playing requires more brain activity and thus precludes speech, while pianists are more likely to be able to talk if they have a piece "in their fingers." Elton John sings while he plays because he doesn't really need to think about what he's playing (also, keep in mind that his piano accompaniment is not exactly Rachmaninov).

I've wondered recently about musical "fluency" as a quasi-linguistic thing. People with a lot of experience on their instruments as well as those who started from a young age know instinctively how to play and can do so by ear. Likewise, I have sung since I was about 4 years old and don't have to think about the "correct" phrasing and can improvise and harmonize at will. Consequently, I learn music very, very quickly (about 60 pages of difficult choir music memorized in 6 rehearsals, most recently). How much of it is due to natural talent, how much to experience, and how much to being exposed to a lot of music (I know how to phrase Mozart because I've heard so much Mozart)?
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby mrbaggins » Sat Nov 01, 2008 6:23 am UTC

I play guitar, and I find it damned difficul;t to sing along whilst playing... partially cos I suck at singing and I have to stop the self torture of my ears, but mostly because it screws up my timing.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby tantalum » Sat Nov 01, 2008 3:51 pm UTC

Chai - I obviously didn't mean that music is a language in the sense that you can communicate with it. I meant it in the sense that the brain parasitizes the language centers of the brain to do the processing for music. Sign language obviously does not use the voice, yet it undeniably uses the language centers, which suggests that the language centers are NOT tied to the voice alone.

From what people have said, it seems that the only way you can speak and play at the same time is if the piece is easy enough that you can play in subconsciously. When I play difficult pieces on piano, what ends up happening is that I play my left hand subconsciously while focusing on what my right hand is doing, and vice versa if the difficult passage is in the left hand. If someone gave an example of someone having a conversation while playing a complex piece (A conversation, not singing along with the song), then I would be completely disproven (Or maybe we should just take that person and put him in a breeding program ^^)

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby studyinserendipity » Sun Nov 02, 2008 12:47 am UTC

I agree with chai's recognition of the fluency issue - I think it is exactly how music and language are linked. When children are learning to read and have trouble comprehending passages, they usually are having fluency issues - they are focusing so much on decoding word for word that they forget what the other words they read said, and the sentence no longer has meaning. Once the reader can recognize certain words automatically or has enough strategies for recognizing linguistic patterns (sentence and grammatical structure, for example) they can read for meaning and remember what is being said. What's more, they can read out loud with expression, even if they haven't read that particular passage before. This can be compared to reading notation, especially sight reading. It also links to what tantalum said, in that as people progress musically and develop strategies for reading notation fluently, they recognize the patterns and can focus more on the piece as a whole, playing with expression, phrasing, and more technical skill (for example, in piano, better fingering). If I recall the chess experiment correctly, that's what differs between expert and novice players - not the number of steps they are thinking about, but how much information each step encompasses. So, theoretically, if the piece the person is playing can be thought of in a few 'steps', then it should be possible to carry on a conversation.

I realized while digging through some research articles that one way to examine the language-music connection would be to look at case studies in which people suffered brain damage that affects their reading and writing abilities and examine whether there was also a loss in music reading ability. Apparently there are some cases in which both have happened. The study I was reading ("An fMRI study of music sight-reading", by Schon, Anton, Roth, and Besson) also points out there may be different ways to think about music that overlap different areas of brain activity. It may be interesting to look into that possibility. Unfortunately, I have to get to work on my Sound and Music science unit, but if I have time to uncover any more interesting information (or more timely, this is a 2002 study), I'll be sure to post it :)

Source:
Schon, D., Anton, J.L., Roth, M., and Besson, M. (2002). An fMRI study of music sight-reading. NeuroReport 13 (17).
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby jbn » Sun Nov 02, 2008 4:45 pm UTC

I'm enjoying this thread. Neat reasoning, sprinkled with science. Excellent.

From what I read I believe that the primary requirement for speaking with someone while playing for example the piano is simply practice. The complexity of the piece may very well deterimned how much training someone would need but I have a hunch that enormously skilled pianists have little problem conversing while playing complicated pieces. I'm also thinking one important aspect would be how often you actually need/try to talk to someone while playing. Since I see it as a training issue I simply see a need for training.

But there is plenty of research that could be done (some it may already have been done, haven't checked) to work out a somewhat more solid theory. This research could very well throw my intuitive extrapolation from my reading overboard.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby dominicbalabat » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:02 pm UTC

Hi everyone, I just would like contribute based on my experience for the sake of music and curiousity. I enjoyed reading this thread too and finished it from the beginning down to the latest thread.

I'm a piano player and I've been playing piano since gradeschool. I'm so interested on this topic as well coz I seem to have difficulties with playing piano when I talk and vice versa. I just found out that it's difficult to speak only when I first learn difficult piece. It wouldn't be that hard if you internalized it. Mathematical power is indeed in use when playing playing piano since you need to divide measures in a complex manner before sending commands to your brain so that your hands will do the job on each finger.

Here's what I observed the skills that are considered when reading a piano music sheet (in order):
1.) read the sheet music (brain fires the info to be processed on #2)
2.) process the note by telling what note it is
3.) the length of the note
4.) loudness or softness (dynamics) of how the note should be played
...
<there might be other things like the placement of the note with respect to the measure and the whole piece.>
...
n.) fires command to your hands to do the piano playing and apply the data gathered (how long the note should be pressed, the texture of the note)

However, if you memorized the piece and internalized it, brain is more on to abtract things... I can observe myself being so controllably unconsious (dont know how to explain the feeling actually... in control in the sense that I can be attentive enough to repond to a conversation... unconsious in the sense that I just play it exactly as written on music sheet) that I can make staccatos and do rubatos whenever needed. You see, feeling the music requires complex understanding on how the music is to be played. This part seems to be the most interesting part in playing piano since it deals with feelings...
You could actually play a lively mozart piece in a dull manner but it wont fit... so which part of the brain does sense the feeling?

My suggestion to any researchers on this field of study is to study piano beginners. I'm not a drop out but I do have low grades on some subjects but definitely not Math... I wonder why... I dont study that much but I get high grades in Math. And I'm into learning different languages... I speak english, spanish, 2 filipino dialects. I learned to write Arabic when I was in gradeschool...

I hope all given data would help you guys in a research... and somehow, some piano player could relate to my experience.... :-)

Godspeed everyone!

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby PM 2Ring » Sun Jan 31, 2010 9:47 am UTC

I suspect that humans were making music long before we had spoken language, and that speech co-opted brain structures that had previously been used for music making & appreciation, as well as those that had been used for simpler forms of vocal communication & body language.

I find it tricky to talk & play at the same time, but it's easier with pieces that I'm very familiar with. Trying to speak when improvising is extremely difficult.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby semicharmed » Sun Jan 31, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

tantalum wrote:I remember reading about a study talking about how some people were more tone deaf/unable to distinguish beats. I wonder if these same people would have trouble in normal conversation?


I am not a musician, not in the least bit, mainly because I'm profoundly tone deaf. Can't distinguish sharps & flats — at all, in any circumstances — and over certain ranges of the piano, spans of two or three white keys will sound identical. Also, in orchestral arrangements, I have trouble differentiations between instruments in a section — I can usually tell brass from woodwind, but distinguishing the clarinets from the saxophones or the trumpets from the trombones is usually an excercise in futility.
My sense of rhythm is fine, though, and I do enjoy music, even if I'm not able to appreciate it. Although I do tend to like stuff with well defined beats and not so much fiddliness on the guitar. As for reading music and musical notation, I'm pretty bad. I played in the band in elementary school & middle school, and even by the end of my run, I would still have to resort to acronyms to figure out what note I was supposed to be playing. I could keep the tempo of the music fine, but sheet music is a giant inscrutable mess to me.

But my musical ineptitude seems not to hinder in any noticeable way my ability to have a normal conversation, or to follow the conversations of people around me. And depending on how good the book/movie/TV show/internet is, I can usually carry on a conversation at the same time I'm reading or watching.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Masily box » Sun Jan 31, 2010 10:01 pm UTC

OP, your basic hypothesis that linguistic and musical behaviors share a good deal of cognitive equipment is, I think, a pretty good one. It's a viewpoint that's been studied in great detail by Aniruddh Patel. Basically, he argues that music and language share a lot (though not all) of the same brainspace.

Someone else suggested that perhaps "music hijacks language centers" isn't a fair characterization: maybe, evolutionarily, language developed out of musical capacities. That's (more or less) the basic premise of The Singing Neanderthals, which is an interesting read and a terrific hypothesis, but sometimes the science is a bit sketchy.

As for people who sing and play their instruments at the same time, it's worth noting that they aren't coming up with their song on the spot like we do when we speak language. The song is just another part of a well-trained musical performance, like one voice of a fugue for keyboard.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby King Author » Mon Feb 15, 2010 2:24 pm UTC

tantalum wrote:I have noticed that when I'm playing piano and someone asks me a question, I am quite literally unable to respond. If I try to make any sound from my mouth, I feel like my language center is temporarily overloaded. It's like when Agent Smith asks neo, "Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?". Then suddenly I manage to make words come out of my mouth, but my hands simultaneously stop "speaking" - i.e. my hands stop playing piano.

This phenomena makes me feel as if humans hijack their language centers to create music. Evolutionarily, there is absolutely no reason for the human brain to develop a module specifically for learning music. I propose that humans learn music by representing it as a language in their brains. The adaptation that allowed humans to detect rhythm (like in poetry) is the same adaptation allowing us to keep the beat in music. The adaptation that allowed humans to detect inflections is the same adaptation that allows us to detect different pitches.

I remember reading about a study talking about how some people were more tone deaf/unable to distinguish beats. I wonder if these same people would have trouble in normal conversation?

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/M ... ogyForever

Not to mention that you're basing all of this off your own subjective experience without first checking to see if even one person is the same way as you.

First off, clearly no, the language center isn't hijacked to do musical stuff since many, many, many people the world over sing and play an instrument at the same time.

Second, "language" is a gestalt phenomenon that isn't natural to human beings (a baby left alone to it's own devices won't invent a language as it grows up, it'll simply never speak, only grunt/yelp/cry/etc.), so supposing that music temporarily displaces language in the brain is using faulty logic.

Third, humans are no longer evolving. Evolution requires natural selection, and humans haven't been subject to natural selection for millenia now. Even if we were, adaptations don't work in the way you're suggesting.

All that said, it is a pretty neat idea. As for me, a fellow pianist, I tend to tie the sound of the music into my muscle memory, such that I can finger a table like a keyboard and, in my mind, hear the music, even to the point of hearing a missed note or poor timing. And as it so happens, I also have trouble talking and playing at the same time, but I think it's just because I'm a novice pianist, and playing melodically requires immense concentration, so it's just that I'm really focused and can't be torn away without stopping playing, not that my brain is incapable of processing music and speech at the same time.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Bobber » Mon Feb 15, 2010 4:59 pm UTC

King Author wrote:First off, clearly no, the language center isn't hijacked to do musical stuff since many, many, many people the world over sing and play an instrument at the same time.
This argument is based on the assumption that the brain depends on the language center to be able to sing.
Singing can be taught until it's a matter of routine, you don't think of the words as if they have meanings and connotations, or even about them as words, but just as a collection of sounds emanating from your mouth. When speaking you have to form the words from meanings which you first have to form as thoughts. As you say yourself:
King Author wrote:I tend to tie the sound of the music into my muscle memory[...]
...And indeed, I believe that the voice is just another instrument - singing can be tied into muscle memory just as playing on an oboe or a harpsichord can.

I think it's possible that singing (something learned, not freestyling) and speaking are so different to the brain depends on the language center for the latter while the former may take place in some other part of the brain, plausibly (or even probably) also in parts of the language center but far from to the same extent as speech.
King Author wrote:Second, "language" is a gestalt phenomenon that isn't natural to human beings (a baby left alone to it's own devices won't invent a language as it grows up, it'll simply never speak, only grunt/yelp/cry/etc.)
True, but don't you think that a bunch of babies left together and artificially cared for, yet never subjected to the concept of speech, will after a while make up their own language?

King Author wrote:Third, humans are no longer evolving.
I think this is an outrageous claim. I found an article in support of your claim here, but the article makes it clear that this view is very controversial. The article here disagrees with you, though admittedly it is slightly dated (I'm not sure how much 18 years mean in the field of biology).
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby King Author » Tue Feb 16, 2010 2:30 pm UTC

Controversial? But according to the currently-accepted viewpoint on evolution, the mechanism through which evolution occurs is natural selection. And it's pretty much undeniable that humans are no longer subject to natural selection -- we've developed technology that can keep people alive and well even if they're not fit for survival. Therefore, humans are no longer evolving. I don't see how that's controversial. Either way, it's immaterial; my point was that humans never "developed an adaptation to detect rhythm" in the first place, the way the topic creator said. Everything that humans can do isn't the result of a specific evolutionary adaptation. In fact, most of what we are is leftover, useless junk or gestalt phenomenon, neither of which needs a specific adaptation.

Anyway, you said that singing can become automatic. Well, guess what else can? Piano playing. So my point remains -- clearly, music and langauge are not mutually exclusive in the human brain. And yes, babies left alone long enough will develop language (probably not for many generations, though -- the individuals won't develop language), but my point to the topic creator was, there's no neatly-contained and easily-defined "part" of the brain that uses language, therefore there's nothing for music to "hijack," thus he's operating on faulty logic. As it so happens, if the parts of the brain commonly involved in language are damaged in humans, other parts can make up for it. Music and language are gestalt phenomenon, not specific brain functions.
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Bobber » Wed Feb 17, 2010 2:51 am UTC

You're right, I cede.
I don't twist the truth, I just make it complex.
mrbaggins wrote:There are two tools in life, duct tape and WD40. If it moves and shouldn't, use the tape. If it doesn't move and should, use the WD40.

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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby Chiffre » Wed Feb 24, 2010 1:37 pm UTC

studyinserendipity wrote: fluency issue

Reading a news item about aphasia & music, you came to my mind.
This may interest you: http://www.musicianbrain.com/#publications
e.g.:
Overy K, Norton A, Cronin K, Gaab N, Alsop D, Schlaug G. Imaging melody and rhythm processing in young children. Neuroreport 15:1723-1726. [PDF]
Koelsch S, Fritz T, Schulze K, Alsop D, Schlaug G. Adults and children processing music: an fMRI study. Neuroimage 2005;25:1068-1076. [PDF]
Overy K, Norton A, Cronin K, Winner E, Schlaug G. Examining rhythm and melody processing in young children using fMRI. Ann N Y Acad Sci 2005;1060:210-218. [PDF]
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Re: How does the brain learn music?

Postby studyinserendipity » Thu Feb 25, 2010 1:27 am UTC

Sweetness! That interests me an incredible amount. Thanks for the resource!!
Cripes, what I wouldn't give to do that kind of research for a living.
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