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Music and the Brain
Transcript of Music and the Brain
Ed Ci 545; Brain Science and Learning
Linda B. Caviness, Ph.D.
The Human Brain
What is it?
Where is it?
Where is it?
What does it do?
What is it?
The brain is the most complex structure in the whole universe.
Wet, fragile, weighs about 3 lbs.
About the size
of a grapefruit.
Shaped like a walnut.
Feels like tofu.
Located inside the cranium
At the top of the spinal column
The brain controls everything the body does, feels, and thinks.
Thought and voluntary movement
Basic Life Functions
The Human Brain is divided into two main sections:
External Parts of the Brain
Deals with planning and thinking
Center of rational control
Higher thinking and problem solving
Regulates emotional system
Deals with self-will and personality
Houses temporal memory (working memory)
Positioned above the ears
Deal with sound and music
Face and object recognition
Some long-term memory
Deals with self-will and personality
Speech enters here, on left side
Used exclusively for visual processing
Certain types of recognition
Band that goes from ear to ear
Controls body movement
Works with the Cerebellum to coordinate the learning of the motor skills
Processes touch signals received from different parts of the body
Connects brain to spinal cord
Controls heart rate, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion
80% of brain's mass
Divided into two hemispheres
Connected by the Corpus Callosum
side of the body
Deals with linear thinking such as:
Math, science, writing, language, logic.
side of body
Deals with holistic thinking such as:
Creativity, imagination, drawing, emotion, expression
Internal Parts of Brain
Receives all sensory information except smell
Redirects signals to other brain parts
Monitors internal systems to maintain normal body state (homeostasis)
Moderates release of hormones such as sleep, food, and liquid intake
Center of the working memory
Converts information from working memory via electrical signals to the long-term storage regions
Compares incoming information with stored experiences (important for creation of meaning)
Plays important role in emotions, especially fear
Regulates the interactions with the environment than can affect survival, i.e weather, attacking, escaping, mating, eating
Highly organized structure
Has more neurons than all the other parts of the brain
Important coordinator of complex motor tasks
Stores the memory of automated movements
Involved in the mental rehearsal of motor tasks
Contributes to large number of mental activities
How the Brain Processes Information
Our five senses (sight, smell, sound, taste and touch) input millions of data every day to our brain.
The electrical impulses sent by our senses allow our brains to screen the information in our
Our brain has a system of filtering the sensory impulses it receives.
All incoming impulses are sent to the thalamus (except smell) and briefly monitored, then transferred.
The register holds memories for a very short period of time, called
Short-term memory includes
Holds data for 30 seconds until we decide what to do with it.
Higher priority inputs outweigh lower ones.
Therefore, survival and emotional inputs diminish learning inputs.
Emotions can enhance as well as block learning.
Students must feel safe and balanced to allow learning inputs to enter the working memory.
Data affecting survival
Data affecting emotions
Data for new learning
Also a temporary memory
Allows us to edit data for storage
Captures our focus, demands our attention
Working memory can only handle a few things at once.
That number increases with age.
Adults have a higher capacity working memory than children.
The WM can only deal with data for a limited amount of time.
This capacity also increases with age.
Motivation plays an important part here.
Motivated minds can remain focused for endless hours.
Long-term memory refers to the process of storing and retrieving information.
Long-term storage refers to the place in the brain where memories are kept.
Long Term Storage
Getting information to pass into the long term storage phase takes time.
Usually occurs during sleep.
And there is no guarantee that the information will not be forgotten.
So how can we transfer learning to the long-term storage phase?
The best way for the working memory to transfer data to long-term storage is to attach
to the the information.
If the working memory attaches
to data, it is much more likely to be remembered.
Does this make sense?
Does it have meaning to me?
Can i understand this based on past experience?
Does it "fit" into what I know about how the world works?
Is it relevant to me?
Why do I have to know this?
When will I use this?
Is meaning present?
Is sense present?
Probability That Learning
Will Be Retained
Self Concept and Motivation in Students
Self Concept is the way we view ourselves in the world.
It is shaped by our emotions and past experiences.
Passing a difficult test
Getting positive recognition
Failing to accomplish a task
Receiving a reprimand
Over time, positive and negative experiences alter how we see ourselves.
More negative experiences lead to a negative self concept, and vice versa.
Two types of Motivation
People tend to accept experiences that have yielded previous success, and avoid those that have resulted in failure.
Therefore, students with positive self-concepts are more willing to accept more types of learning and information.
The Purpose of Self Concept
Motivators originating from the external world.
Motivation from within oneself to succeed.
An inner desire to succeed is the best motivator of all.
It also produces the best type of learning.
The Purpose of Motivation
The longer data has time to process in the working memory, the more probability it attains for retention in long-term storage.
Motivated students process and focus longer, and therefore retain more and learn more.
How Music Affects the Brain
"The Mechanics of Music"
"The Deeper Impact"
"The Subjective Sounds"
"The Hardwired Responses"
"What Happens to Your Brain Under the Influence of Music"
Listening to music involves so many distinct parts of the brain.
It is one of the most complex things you can do.
So many parts of the brain coincide to comprehend even the simplest melodies.
processes the pitch and volume of the music.
Parts of the
process the rhythm.
Many parts of the
go into processing the tone of the music.
Most people define music as a right brained activity.
Remember the right brain deals mostly with creativity.
Music uses so many different and decentralized areas of the brain, that it is impossible to create a single neuro-category for it.
Good music can trigger more than just purely mechanical responses.
Involuntary movements (such as tapping your foot) while listening to music come from neurons being activated in the
Even more interesting than the motor response, listening to music also simulates the
By stimulating the visual cortex, listening to music makes us conjure up images to match what we're listening.
The memory part of the brain is one of the most deeply intertwined areas with music.
Since the brain is so completely engaged with music, it is easily remembered.
Songs and even pieces of songs are powerful triggers for memories and events.
For example, happy music can increase your breathing rate, while sad music can lower your pulse and slow it down.
Physiological responses can also be triggered by certain music.
Even babies are able to distinguish between sad songs and happy songs.
For example, "happy" music stimulates the part of the brain that releases
the same chemical released when exercising and eating.
Using the chemicals in our body, music evokes a response by reading the tempo, melody, and even phrasing of the song.
Music carries an amazing ability to affect our emotions.
Why does music carry so much meaning for us?
Music is so complex just by itself.
The pitch, tone, and rhythm have to be so perfectly and complexly organized to create music.
Why does music affect people differently?
Memory is one of the most powerful factors in determining a person's own musical likes.
Music with pleasant memories and positive associations draw us in more than the opposite.
The root of all this starts back in the brain.
And as unique as each of our brains are, so are our multi-faceted and complex relationships with music.
Our brain has the capacity to sort and comprehend every melody it hears.
Music has such a dramatic pull on the brain because of the amount of processing it requires.
And our amazing brain does all this in indistinguishable amounts of time.
What more can we do, but sit back and enjoy the music.
I would like to personally thank Dr. Caviness for such an inspiring and motivating class which helped me to understand in a much wider sense our marvelous brain and how it perceives music. It has enhanced my career and made me a much better qualified musician and teacher.
-Cordially, Daniel Rodriguez