How do certain songs pop into our minds randomly? Why are we not able to get rid of a specific tune or lyrics. Here is how music influences the neuroscience of imagination.
The Neuroscience of Imagination
The human brain prefers to follow a pattern, it constantly imagines and tries to relate every current event to an event from the past subconsciously. Thus, making new memories belonging to different patterns helps individuals to move on from the past.
Co-author Giovanni Di Liberto and his colleagues had recently conducted a study to find out why human beings recall a distinct tune, song, or sound at peculiar timings especially when everything around is silent like in an examination hall.
They published the said study in the Journal of Neuroscience and here is what it says.
How Does Music Affect the Brain?
Several studies published by reputed institutions like Johns Hopkins and Harvard have shown how listening to music can exercise the entire brain and reduce numerous brain-related conditions like:
- Blood Pressure
- Improve alertness
- Expand memory
- Improve sleep quality etc.
This led to the current study by Di Liberto to find out what the brain does when there is no music and how it randomly imagines music.
How Does Music Influence the Neuroscience of Imagination?
Di Liberto’s study researched the brain activity of 21 professional musicians in two ways:
- What does the brain imagine when it hears the name of a song?
- What does the brain imagine during pauses in between a song?
Di Liberto’s team used fMRI to study the activity and weren’t able to find any different reactions from the brain because fMRI could only process brain activity every 2 seconds. Therefore, they shifted their study to EEG-based as EEGs could process data within 10ms.
What Did the Study Find out?
The participants were asked to imagine a melody by Johann Bach. The brain’s response to the imagination was recorded. Following this, the same participants were made to listen to the melody they imagined and the neural activity was recorded for the same.
The records collected via EEGs showed the neural activity during both stimulations was similar to each other. The study concluded that the brain tries to imagine every aspect of the future by relating it to known or new patterns.
Thus, when an individual listens to music, the brain tries to predict the upcoming tune/lines constantly. Therefore, the brain is continuously searching for sounds to organize the current events into a pattern and music is the easiest way to organize stuff. This causes certain songs to pop out of the blue and singing it aloud allows the brain to recognize the event as normal.
What Is the Purpose?
Di Liberto says, “When we hear something that is different a mismatch tells us that something is off,” causing the brain to investigate its surroundings in order to find out or create a pattern. He added that this study could eventually help researchers discover and map the brain patterns leading to dementia, ADHD, or any other brain issue in its early stages using the neuroscience of imagination.