Roadrunner Records - Slipknot's hard-hitting, aggressive metal anthems are getting…
- Posted on Mar 13th 2008 2:00PM by James Sullivan
Improvisation, as it happens, came much more naturally when several musicians were invited to play jazz inside a magnetic resonance imaging device. The idea was to try to pinpoint the brain's activity during musical performance, and to compare rote recital to improvised riffing.
Charles Limb, a Johns Hopkins University hearing specialist who plays the saxophone, recently recruited a group of musicians for an experiment he hopes will one day help deaf people hear music. The musicians were asked to play a C scale on a specially outfitted keyboard in the MRI machine, followed by their own spontaneous riffing on Limb's original blues progression, which he titled, aptly enough, 'Magnetism.'
Scientists at the National Institutes of Health found that a human mind engaged in musical improvisation is operating much the same as it does while dreaming. Measuring the amount of oxygen found in various parts of the brain, the researchers learned that the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex – the area responsible for enforcing our inhibitions – shut down when the players were asked to improvise. Then the medial prefrontal cortex, which influences self-expression, kicked into high gear.
"It's one thing to come up with a ditty," as Limb told the AP. "It's another thing entirely to come up with a masterpiece, an hour-long idea after idea."
So they're using brain scans to calculate what fans of Phish and, uh, Lisa Simpson already know: Jamming is using your noodle.
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