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Music Shapes the Brain
January 7, 2003

"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
–Mark Twain


Science magazine (December 13, 2002; www.science.com. ) unveiled research demonstrating that the harmonies of music rewire the brain, creating patterns of neural activity at the confluence of emotion and memory that strengthen with each new melody. By monitoring the brains of people listening to classical scales and key progressions, scientists at Dartmouth College glimpsed the biology of the hit-making machinery of popular songs. 

The flash-dance of these brain circuits, which process the harmonic relationship of musical notes, is shaped by a human craving for melody that drives people to spend more every year on music than on prescription drugs. The impact on the brain is measurable.  Among expert musicians certain areas of the cortex are up to 5 percent larger than in people with little or no musical training, this research reveals.  In musicians who started their training in early childhood, the neural bridge that links the brain's hemispheres, called the corpus callosum, is up to 15 percent larger.  A professional musicians auditory cortex -- the part of the brain associated with hearing  -- contains 130 percent more gray matter than that of nonmusicians.

Child Care Information Exchange article on brain research is among the twelve most requested articles from the Exchange Article Archives.  To order this article and check out the other 11 most popular articles in the past month go to www.ChildCareExchange.com.


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