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Music Synchronizes the Brains of Performers and Their Audience

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/music-synchronizes-the-brains-of-performers-and-their-audience/

scientificamerican.com

Music Synchronizes the Brains of Performers and Their Audience
Scientific American is the essential guide to the most awe-inspiring advances in science and technology, explaining how they change our understanding of the world and shape our lives.

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Performer - audience synchrony

Performer - audience synchrony

When you are at a concert and you get to the part with a refrain from your favorite song, you are swept up in the music. The performers and audience seem to be moving as one.

Research has shown there is a synchrony that can be seen in the brain activities of the audience and a performer. And the greater the degree of synchrony, the more the audience enjoys the performance.

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Dancing to the same emotions

The synchrony between the brain activity of a performer and his audience shows insights into the nature of musical exchanges: we dance and feel the same emotions together, and our neurons fire together as well. This is especially true when it comes to the more popular performances.

Synchronous brain activity was localized in the left hemisphere of the brain (temporal-parietal junction). This area is important for empathy, the understanding of others’ thoughts and intentions, and verbal working memory used for expressing thought.

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Music and the right hemisphere of the brain

The right brain hemisphere is most often associated with the interpretation of musical melody.

In the right hemisphere, synchronization is localized to areas involved in recognizing musical structure and pattern (the inferior frontal cortex) and interpersonal understanding (the inferior frontal and postcentral cortices).

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Mirror neurons

These are brain cells that are thought to enables a mirroring or internalization of others’ thoughts and actions.

They manage movement and respond to the sight of it, giving rise to the notion that their activity during passive observation is a silent rehearsal for when they become engaged in active movement.

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Measuring synchronized brain responses

Synchronized brain responses among music listeners have been measured by functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) in some studies, while other researchers have examined the coordinated actions of performers by tracking the electrical activities of their brain using electroencephalography.

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Music promotes positive social behavior

The observed degree of synchronization between the performer and audience was connected to the enjoyment of the music.

This provides a powerful means by which music promotes positive social behavior. Music commands greater attention when it is pleasant, which could contribute to one’s feeling of being swept away when listening to a favorite piece.

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Moving Together In Sync

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Spontaneous Synchronicity

We tend to sync ourselves with others without even realizing it. People wave or clap at the same time in concerts, rocking in sync. A study showed that if two people are in a rocking chair, they will automatically start rocking it in sync with each other.

This silent conversation of movement results in a special bonding and closeness towards each other. This results in people liking each other, being generous and cooperative towards each other, reducing racial or economical bias. This behaviour is even seen in small children.

Dancing Together Since Ancient Times

Early humans devised ways to be and stay together using the same techniques, albeit unconsciously.

Voices and body movements synced together during traditional folk dances in various cultures helped people bond together.

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It can synchronize activities and convey social dynamics without a gesture or spoken word.

It requires a quick interpretation and explanation of the meaning behind another person's gaze, but the trade-off for the speed of that interpretation is the mistaken understanding of gaze as something that can move things in our environment.

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Neuronal Correlates of Consciousness (NCC)

The whole brain can be considered an NCC because it generates experience continually.

  • When parts of the cerebellum, the "little brain" underneath the back of the brain, are lost to a stroke or otherwise, patients may lose the ability to play the piano, for example.  But they never lose any aspect of their consciousness. This is because the cerebellum is almost wholly a feed-forward circuit. There are no complex feedback loops.
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  • It appears that almost all conscious experiences have their origin in the posterior cortex. But it does not explain the crucial difference between the posterior regions and much of the prefrontal cortex, which does not directly contribute to subjective content.