Music and the brain: right from wrong

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1. Listening to Mozart makes you smarter

forged. And if, after only 10 minutes of listening to a work MozartHas our IQ increased? It was in 1993 that Frances Rocher And his team of researchers in California launched the hypothesis that it would spread like wildfire and lead to the most famous myth, the myth. Mozart effect.

Remember the facts: in the prestigious American scientific journal temper natureRauscher publishes a study showing that after just ten minutes of listening to Sonata for piano in D major K 448 From Mozart, adolescents who have undergone the experiment are better able to solve spatial intelligence tasks.

Advertising is like a bomb. Mozart is served with all the sauces, mice, and veggies you go through, pregnant women and newborns receive collections of Mozart’s work in maternity wards, and some US states go so far as to require public early childhood reception facilities to broadcast Mozart daily. The market for Mozart-branded audio media — which is supposed to make kids and adults smarter — is exploding. At the same time, controversy escalates: several consecutive studies contradict Rauscher’s findings. However, the myth of the Mozart effect is dying hard. What is it really?

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Mozart, Bach or Michael Jackson explains, that the music we like will improve our cognitive abilities, because it gives us pleasure, Isabelle Peretz, Quebec researcher in neuroscience, in her book Learn Music, Neuroscience News. And most importantly: if listening to music does not leave our brain indifferent, then musical practice will have a ripple effect on our intellectual performance.

The researcher cites several studies on different groups of students, fairly young, who had a higher success rate in all the subjects assessed after pursuing a music education (piano or choral) in school: “Learning to make music is an asset when the activity is part of general education, and that is from six months of age until the end of adolescence. Music develops a child’s intellectual and social faculties, but only if it is practiced in addition to and not instead of general education. Isabel Peretz concluded.

2. All musicians are good at math

forged. 2,500 years ago, Pythagoras considered music a mathematical science, just like arithmetic, astronomy, and geometry. In the Middle Ages, music had a favorite place among the seven arts of education, along with the disciplines of literature, astronomy, geometry, and arithmetic. Many composers throughout history have relied on mathematics to theorize or compose music, and Johann Sebastian Bach He is the brilliant example, who integrates number theory and mathematical operations in his numerous works, the most famous of which is Fuguemusical show.

But the opposite is also true: scientists, physicists, and mathematicians can be excellent musicians. Another great example: Albert Einstein, who was a prominent violinist. But does this necessarily mean that being prepared for music means a better understanding of mathematics, as we tend to believe?

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For Isabelle Peretz, there are two different types of intelligence: “Music and mathematics share certain mechanisms, she writes. Just as language and music share many mechanisms. The collective study of faculties or forms of intelligence, such as music and mathematics, facilitates comparison, but not necessarily understanding of their working mechanisms.concluded.

3. Music feels good

Right. Do you listen to your favorite track thousands of times in a row, and every time you get goosebumps all over your body? This feeling perfectly reflects the connection between music and our neurons. Have you ever wondered why you spend hours glued to your headphones, and why you run to a choral rehearsal after a long day at work? Because the music is good.

Isabel Peretz explains that the pleasure one feels comes from the release of dopamine in reward circuits. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter of pleasure and motivation, the same that is released at the time of a good meal, for example, but also under the influence of drugs or during sex.

“If you ask students what gives them the most pleasure in life, Isabelle Peretz writes, They will tell you that the music comes right after sex, after sunrise, and long before food and sleep. »

This shows the effect that music has on the brain. You may also benefit from it, it’s free (or nearly), socially rewarding, excellent for your health and completely legal!

4. To become a musician, everything is decided before the age of three

forged. In the race to perform, this is the legend that haunted young parents’ nights. Musical Awakening in the womb When exposed to music before birth, music increasingly intervenes early in the stimulation of babies. We have to move quickly: before the age of three, cognitive faculties are at their peak, and if we miss this mark, then our child’s fate will be decided forever: he will not become a musician.

This belief has its origins particularly in the theory of critical periods of learning, the stages of a child’s cognitive development where certain acquisitions are more fluid, because priority. For example, at birth, a child is born with a willingness to learn all the languages ​​of the world, an ability that will decrease during the first year of life depending on the relevant features of his mother tongue. But this does not mean that the child will lose all the ability to distinguish sound later.

Recent discoveries by neuroscientists reassure us on this level. Cerebral plasticity, the brain’s ability to change and reorganize its connections under the influence of experiences and learning, lasts throughout life. In other words: Contrary to what we thought a few years ago, we can produce new connections between our neurons even in old age!

“Four months of formally learning to play the piano, Isabelle Peretz writes, With learning to read, it improves not only mood, but also so-called executive activities, such as attention and planning, in 70-year-olds. »

It should also be noted that learning music has a protective effect on the brain: musicians are less affected by the decline of the faculties of hearing due to age, for example. If an early musical start actually leads to faster learning, don’t hold us back, one can become a musician at any age!

5. Either we have talent or we don’t

forged. We have talent, or not..that’s the phrase that kills any amateur musician’s project in the bud. Is there a gene for music? What is the role of talent? Is there such a ‘hump math »‘bump to the musician » ?

We no longer monitor the protrusions on the skull to detect natural predisposition, such as Franz Joseph GalA contemporary of Mozart and the innovator of phrenology. The crime bump, the math bump, and the music were listed as accidents in the history of science. However, we are not all equal when it comes to learning music, and in our genetic capital we have to look for the origin.

For music, as for other artistic disciplines, a little talent is not so much. With an equal investment in terms of hours or years of practice, talented people will do better. Isabelle Peretz compares musical talent to trees. And she wrote that the longest would not be the ones with the most water, but the ones with the best genes. But in terms of music, talent has been generously distributed: studies show that 95% of the population has all the preparations to reach an excellent level, provided they invest enough in it.


However, the genes are not The only gentlemen on board, Isabelle Peretz says: The environment can influence how the genetic code is expressed in an individual. » In other words, only the right context will allow talent to flourish, and vice versa.

Statistically, no more than 2.5% of people do not have a predisposition to music, and the rest are musicians, people with neurogenic abnormalities that make learning music very difficult.

6. There is no music without a perfect tone

forged. This is the fantasy of any novice musician par excellence. This impressive ability to be able to associate a sound being played with the name of the note corresponding to it, seems to some an inaccessible holy grail. There was a time when absolute pitch was a selection criterion for entrance examination into conservatories. Many musicians retain the frustrating memory of musical dictations, with one in twenty people responding one-on-one and monopolizing the teacher’s full attention, while others counted playing periods of long minutes.

But what we know less is that many people of perfect presentation can do without this “gift”. Systematic translation of all everyday sounds into musical notes – firefighter siren, telephone ring tone, elevator tone, etc. – May cause discomfort. Attending a concert where one sees a slight shift in the agreement of the two players can become torture.

Not only does absolute tone in no way guarantee exceptional musical talent, but in addition only 10% of Western musicians possess it.

But where does this absolute degree come from? According to Isabelle Peretz, the structural difference in the brain that is present at birth, is caused by the expression of a polymorphism of genes, which does not affect the cognitive abilities of the individual. A form of synesthesia, an involuntary association between sound and word, which comes from activation “Links between adjacent neural networks that are inhibited in the normal brain,” The researcher tells us.

So even if you don’t have a perfect vocal presentation, you’re past the critical age of three, and you’ve never averaged in math, you definitely have enough talent to get started in music, whether you’re a Mozart or not. And your mind will thank you for it all your life!

#Music #brain #wrong

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