A sense of rhythm, integral to musicality, may also be developed even in those with minimal or no training in music and may be largely due to dense neural connections in specific regions of the brain, study finds. conducted by scientists from the National Brain Research Center (NBRC), Manesar and Symbiosis International, Pune.

The extent to which musical ability is inherent, the extent to which it is influenced by training, and which regions of the brain are most activated when perceiving musical elements such as rhythm and pitch are areas of concern. dynamic research. Studies have shown, for example, that at least 15 months of early childhood music training results in long-term changes in brain structure that deviate from typical brain development.

Other studies have shown that the brain’s neuroanatomy plays an important role, and still others have even linked certain genes. For example, the gene (GATA2) that regulates the development of cochlear hair cells and the structures involved in sound perception in the auditory pathway have been associated with individual differences in the processing and perception of music.

Key question

For Nandini Chatterjee Singh, a neuroscientist who heads the Language Literacy and Music Laboratory at the NBRC, the question was whether connectivity in the brain and certain brain structures were minimal or absent in non-musicians, and whether progressively more musical training high influenced density. or degree of connectivity between certain regions of the brain.

Profiling musical skills

To test this, she and her collaborators Archith Rajan, Apurva Shah and Madhura Ingalhalikar recruited 27 college graduates – 13 women – with varying degrees of musical training ranging from non-musicians to professionals and assessed them on a test called musical perception. This standardized computer test, since 2012, has been used in research to test the listener’s abilities to discern changes in rhythm, pitch, accent and melody. Their scores were assessed with brain imaging data from all participants.

“What we found was that non-musicians performed as well as musicians trained in rhythm processing tasks because of the way the brain is connected. So there are hidden – or sleeping – musicians among us, ”Singh said. The Hindu, “But it was only rhythm specific and we didn’t find any strong patterns in height perception.”

Rather than connections in the right and left hemispheres of the brain, it was the strength of the connections between the two hemispheres of the brain that significantly influenced rhythmic processing abilities. Connection density in the right posterior cingulate cortex, a region that acted as the hub of connectivity between the two halves of the brain, was strongly related to participants’ overall scores. The study was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal European Journal of Neuroscience.

Importance of rhythm

The fact that the perception of rhythm is so strongly marked in the brain underscored its importance for language processing and opened up avenues of research in several areas of research, including autism, musical skills as well as the use of music. music therapy for a variety of physiotherapy and rehabilitation exercises. Singh added.


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