New Delhi: People without any musical training might have a sense of rhythm comparable to that of professional musicians, in large part due to “dense neural connections in specific regions of the brain,” a new study has found, according to The Hindu.
With the study, conducted by scientists from the National Brain Research Center (NBRC) in Manesar and Symbiosis International in Pune, the scientists wanted to test whether connectivity in the brain and certain brain structures is “either minimal or absent” in patients. non-musicians and whether progressively higher musical training influenced the “density or degree of connectivity” between certain regions of the brain.
Scientists have been curious as to whether musical ability is inherent and, if so, to what extent. According to The Hindu, it is interesting to study whether musical ability is influenced by training, and which regions of the brain are most activated when perceiving musical elements such as rhythm and pitch.
The report states that previous studies have shown that 15 months of early childhood music training results in “long-term changes in the structure of the brain” and that this differs from typical brain development. Other studies have shown that musical ability is also influenced by the neuroanatomy of the brain and even by certain genes.
To test connectivity in the brain and certain brain structures, Nandini Chatterjee Singh, the neuroscientist who runs the Language Literacy and Music Laboratory at the NBRC, recruited 27 college graduates with varying degrees of music training. They ranged from non-musicians to professionals.
They took the Profile of Music Perception skill test, a standardized computer test that has been used in research to test listeners’ abilities to discern changes in rhythm, pitch, accent and melody. The Hindu said participants’ scores have been assessed and brain imaging data has been collected.
“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,” Singh said. The Hindu. “So there are musicians hidden – or asleep – among us. However, these findings were specific to rhythm. The researchers found no strong trends in the perception of ground, on the other hand.
According to Singh, rhythmic processing abilities were not significantly influenced by connections within the right and left hemispheres of the brain, but rather by “the strength of the connections between the two hemispheres.”
“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 Hindu reported.
The study was accepted for publication in the peer-reviewed journal European Journal of Neuroscience. Besides Singh, Archith Rajan, Apurva Shah and Madhura Ingalhalikar also participated in the study.
Singh said The Hindu that their discovery – that the perception of rhythm is engraved in the brain – has underlined its importance for “language processing”, and that it opens up new avenues of inquiry into autism, musical skills and use possible music therapy for physiological care and rehabilitation.