Brain "to jazz"


When jazz musicians improvise, their brains turn off areas that are responsible for self-censorship and inhibition of nerve impulses, and instead included the area, opening the way for self-expression.

Concomitant study from Johns Hopkins University, which was attended by musicians - volunteers from the Institute of Peabody, and in which the method was used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), has shed light on the mechanism of creative improvisation that artists use in everyday life.

Jazz musicians improvising, creating their own unique riffs by turning off inhibition and enable creativity.

Scientists from the Medical University, the National Institute on Deafness said his interest in a possible neurological basis of state closer to a state of trance in which jazz musicians fall from spontaneous improvisation.

"When jazz musicians improvise, they often play with eyes closed in his characteristic style, which demonstrates the traditional rules of melody and rhythm," - says Charles Limb (Charles J. Limb), Professor of Medicine, Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology assists-Head and Neck Surgery at the Medical school at Johns Hopkins University, which itself also is an accomplished jazz saxophonist.

"This is a special spirit soul" - he adds - "when suddenly, suddenly a musician creates music that is never heard, never thought about it and have not played anything like this before. What is obtained at the output - it turns spontaneously. "

Many recent studies have focused on trying to understand which parts of the human brain are activated when listening to music, and, according to Limb, too little attention was paid to the study of brain activity during spontaneous composing music.

Trying to understand what was happening to his own brain in a state of "under jazz," he and his colleague Allen Brown (Allen R. Braun), Professor of Medicine, developed a plan monitoring brain function during musical improvisation in real time.

To participate in this study, they recruited six experienced jazz pianists, three of them from the Institute of Peabody, Conservatory of Music, which is part-Limb professorships.Other volunteers learned about the study, due to rumors that spread in the local jazz community.

Researchers have developed a special keyboard on which the pianists to play inside the machine functional magnetic resonance imaging, brain scanner, flashing the brain that respond to different stimuli, such as identifying which areas are active when a person is involved in some sort of mental activity.

Since the apparatus of functional magnetic resonance imaging uses powerful magnets, the researchers designed a custom keyboard that does not have metal parts that could attract a magnet. They also used this unit is compatible with the headphones that allow musicians to hear their music created in the game.

Each musician took part in four different exercises designed to distinguish between brain activity during memory game simple piano pieces and the brain activity observed during improvisation.

While inside the fMRI device with a keyboard, arranged them on his lap, all pianists start with a C major scale, is well remembered series of notes, which examines each aspiring musician. Metronome, built-in headphones, designed to provide the same range of the game all the musicians - in the same order, with the same intervals.

To perform the exercise two pianists had to improvise. They were to play quarter notes range, but can play them in any order that they themselves wish.

Next, the band had to play in the original blues melody that they had learned in advance, while background recording played jazz quartet that complements the melody. In the last exercise, the musicians had to improvise with your own tunes using the same recording a jazz quartet.

Limb and Braun then analyzed the records taken from the brain scanner. Since the area of ​​the brain that are invoked during the game from memory, are those parts of it that are normally active during the games of any kind on the piano, the researchers excluded them from the picture of the brain, resulting in improvisation.

Working on only in the brain, characteristic only for the process of improvisation, the scientists saw strikingly similar patterns, regardless of whether you are a simple improvisation with musicians range in C Major, or perform more complex melodies, improvising with the performance of a jazz quartet.

Scientists have discovered that part of the brain known as the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex - a broad frontal area of ​​the brain, tapering from the center to the periphery - showed slowing of brain activity during improvisation. This area was found to be responsible for the planned actions and self-censorship, for example, the careful choice of words for the interview.

Disabling this area can lead to a reduction of braking, enters Limbo. They also found increased activity in the medial prefrontal cortex of the brain, ie in the center of the front of the frontal part of the brain. This area is responsible for self-expression, the activity of expressing individuality, for example, a sincere story about yourself.

"Jazz is often described as an extremely individualistic art form. You can easily identify game jazz musician, as Each jazz improvisation sounds like his own music, "- says Limb."What we now think of when you're tellin 'own musical history, the following happens: you close the impulses that can suppress for creative thought."

Limb notes that this type of brain activity can take place in other forms of improvisation that are an integral part of life and the artists and ordinary people. For example, he said, people are constantly improvising, choosing his words in a conversation, and how to improvise with the decision of unexpected problems. "Without this type of creative person could not evolve as a species. This is - an integral part of who we are "- says Limb.

He and Braun plan to use similar techniques to determine whether they have identifiable improvisational brain activity similar types of activity other creative individuals, such as poets or visual artists, as well as the activity of ordinary people in the process of improvisation.