Are Piano Players Brains Different Than Other People?
Yes! Piano Players Brains Are Different!
Yes, as a matter of fact, piano players brains ARE different! And other musicians too. If you’re a musician, you’ve probably suspected this. Your friends may view your skills with a bit of awe, and they might also comment that you think differently than they do. Scientific studies have proven that piano players brains are indeed different.
A look into the brain
Scientists in the U.S., Norway and Sweden working together conducted a study on musicians’ brains using an electroencephalogram, or EEG, to record electrical activity. Electrodes, flat metal discs, were applied to the scalp to receive electrical impulses. The cells of the brain communicate by way of these impulses, even when a person is asleep.
After analyzing the data from the impulses, the researchers discovered that musicians have frontal lobes that are considered well-coordinated. This part of the brain handles planning and logic. In musicians’ brains there is a clear dominance of alpha waves, which are indicators that activity is happening on a certain frequency. What this means is, musicians can more effectively combine various details to get the bigger picture.
The study also showed that musicians manage their brain resources wisely. When the situation requires it, they can be on the alert and ready for whatever type of action is called for. Or if circumstances are quiet and non-threatening, they are relaxed and able to just let things develop.
Using questionnaires, the scientists determined that musicians had an inherently higher standard of moral reasoning. Musicians also reported more times of intense happiness, a sense of being unimpeded by limitations.
According to Psychology Today, brain imaging has revealed a number of differences in the brains of musicians as compared to non-musicians. For example:
• The number and size of nerve cells in the brain of a person who has undergone extensive musical training is much higher, especially in those parts of the cerebral cortex that handles auditory, spatial and motor skills.
• They have a better musical and verbal memory.
• Musical learning over the long term reorganizes the brain, so that areas that in most people are designated for one type of activity are recruited for a variety of skills in a musician’s brain.
Guitarists are always different too
According to an article in Guitar World, the neural networks found in the brains of guitar players synchronize easily and efficiently both while playing a song as well as just a bit before the actual playing. According to the study conducted by researchers in Berlin in 2012, guitarists shift at will from conscious to unconscious thought. This makes possible the impossible riffs of a genius like Jimmy Hendrix. They are able to turn off the section of their brains that handles big picture goals, achieving a flow state.
Guitarists are actually different from other musicians, not just non musicians. They are among the most intuitive people in the population, which makes it possible for them to learn a new piece of music best by watching and listening to someone else playing it. Most other musicians learn by reading and playing notes written out on paper.
As an extreme example of this inherent ability, scientists point to jazz guitarist Pat Martino. He had over 70% of his left temporal lobe surgically removed due to a hemorrhage while in his 30s. Immediately after surgery, he was unable to figure out how to play the guitar. But a mere two years later, he had relearned the very difficult skill of playing a jazz guitar.
The Berlin psychologists also studies musicians playing duets. Obviously they were able to synchronize their playing. But beyond that, they were also synchronizing their brainwaves. Though done with guitarists, researchers felt that this is probably true of all musicians. Called phase locking, it is a function of the frontal lobe.
A non musician listens to music with the right hemisphere of the brain, which handles emotions and takes note of melodic contour. A musician, on the other hand, uses his left hemisphere, which is the source of analytical activity. This makes sense because they must concern themselves with the language, or syntax, of music as they play.
Musicians can also conjure strong auditory and tonal imagery, as if they hear music with just their mind, without actual music being played.
There you have it. Musicians’s brains are different, science has proved it. The brain of the musically skilled has more brain cells, better skill sets and better memory. Musicians have well coordinated brains, in synch with other members of their tribe. And guitarists have their own tribe.
Read this fascinating article about how science shows how piano players brains are actually different from everyone else.
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