Music’s effect on the mind and body is without a doubt one of the most profound aspects of the human race. The simple and elegant fact that a random assortment of sounds can cause physiological changes to happen within our body, almost like a stimulant.
Until recently, the study of music’s effect on the body and mind has been limited to understanding the physiological triggers that are stimulated when listening to music. Now however, researchers at MIT have made a breakthrough that will forever change how we study music’s effect on the body:
“By mathematically analyzing scans of the auditory cortex and grouping clusters of brain cells with similar activation patterns, the scientists have identified neural pathways that react almost exclusively to the sound of music — any music. It may be Bach, bluegrass, hip-hop, big band, sitar or Julie Andrews. A listener may relish the sampled genre or revile it. No matter. When a musical passage is played, a distinct set of neurons tucked inside a furrow of a listener’s auditory cortex will fire in response.”
Essentially, researchers have found the musical sweet spot in our brain that reacts to music the moment it is heard. While finding this sweet spot is ground breaking in the field of study, Josef Rauschecker, director of the Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition at Georgetown University, believes their is a bigger discovery that has yet to be realized:
“The brain gives specialized treatment to music recognition, that it regards music as fundamental a category as speech”.
What this means is that over the time of human evolution, music became such an important part of society and everyday life that it was woven into the very way we think and communicate. Pretty freakin cool, right?
You can read the full story on the New York Times.