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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.

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.

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.

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.

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).

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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