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Perspective: music and the brain

Music and the brain
I’m Michael Zev Gordon and I teach composition here at the University of Birmingham.
I sometimes think of music as a kind of meeting place between the emotions and mathematics, between the heart and the brain, if you like. Having the chance to study the brain and its processes, how it processes information and the emotions, well, that could bring valuable insight for me in to understanding how music works within us. As a composer I’ve been involved with two projects now to do with science. I’ve written a piece to do with genetic patternings and another to do with consciousness. Doing these, I’ve come to realise just how complementary the arts and the sciences can be. A number of our students here take a course studying music in the brain.
And I think they too must come to see just how exciting and revealing a cross-disciplinary approach to inquiry is– looking at the same objects but from different angles.

Professor Michael Zev Gordon discusses how studying the workings of the brain can give insight into the creative and emotional impact of music.

In Step 3.4 we considered what we know about language and the brain. On-going studies indicate that speech and singing, whilst related, may require the involvement of over-lapping but not identical, regions of the brain. This is being exploited for rehabilitation of those with damage to the areas of the brain that have been strongly linked to speech such as Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas. This article and the associated, Youtube clip, explains this in more detail.

Can you think of any other examples of the potential relationship between creativity or emotion, and physical brain function? Add your comments below.

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