Music Miscellany 2.0, 2.1, & 2.2

A follow up from the music study discussed 5/10/15. First, when I described this study to friends at the beach, the musician among us immediately focused on the catergory F-L+, unknown but liked music, knowing that was the gateway to familiarity and also that he goes there when composing. Another friend told how her mother would calm in the last days of Alzheimer’s when they sang some of the old tunes. Clearly music is powerful.

2.1 Then comes this article in the NYT reporting some research focused on bird songs and who listens, their conspecifics, other birds and some mammals. Sound is a special medium and we process it specifically for its special characteristics as we communicate with sound empathically, musically or linguistically. NYT Link here:

2.2 Finally a word on the neurofunctional findings of that excellent study. I have already mentioned that familiar music lights up limbic structures. Liking music seems to light up small regions in the cingulate cortex and frontal lobe, including motor areas including Broca’s (speech).


The cingulate cortex, area 24 wrapping atop the corpus callosum here, is also called the limbic cortex; it would seem to be involved in integrating between the limbic output, especially from the hippocampus, and frontal lobe structures involved in movement and feedback. That Broca’s area lights up listening and without singing or speaking suggests how important singing along is to liking music, sort of mirror function probably through the arcuate fasciculus.  There is more to digest here as liking seems to involve a curious interaction between right and left sides.  Oh boy.

arcuate fasciculus

Even further, music scholars such as Angelique Kidjo, Aniruddh D. Patel, and Daniel Levitin state that music at its roots is participatory. We listen to move (and sing). With language we also listen to speak and must learn how to listen without speaking. Watch a good preschool teacher at group time helping the kids, especially the boys, to hold their responses and listen to someone else or the entire story. It is an important skill, and of course some do and some do not learn well how to yield the floor and listen to the other. Now, a 1 and a 2 and a 3 . . .

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