Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Listen Up, Tune Out: Training And Experience Can Affect Brain Organization, Research Shows

Date:
November 6, 2007
Source:
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Summary:
New research comparing music conductors and non-musicians shows that both the conductors and the non-musicians "tuned out" their visual sense while performing a difficult hearing task. As the task became harder, however, only the non-musicians tuned out more of their visual sense, indicating that the training and experience of the conductors changed how their brains work.

Music conductors and non-musicians alike "tune out" their visual sense while performing a difficult hearing task, researchers have found.
Credit: iStockphoto/Arpad Benedek

New research comparing music conductors and non-musicians shows that both the conductors and the non-musicians "tuned out" their visual sense while performing a difficult hearing task. As the task became harder, however, only the non-musicians tuned out more of their visual sense, indicating that the training and experience of the conductors changed how their brains work.

The research, a joint project of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG) Music Research Institute, was presented November 4 at the 37th annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience in San Diego, Calif.

The study involved 20 conductors and 20 musically untrained subjects. The subjects were between the ages of 28-40, and the conductors had an average of more than 10 years of experience as a band or orchestra director in middle or high school.

The study used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), which shows which areas of the brain are active during a task. The scanner confirmed that while activity increased in the auditory part of the brain during the hearing task, activity in the visual part actually decreased.

"Imagine the difference between listening to somebody talk in a quiet room, and that same discussion in a noisy room. You don't see as much of what's going on in the noisy room. This is like closing your eyes to listen to music," said Jonathan H. Burdette, M.D., senior researcher. Burdette is an associate professor of radiology and a member of the Advanced Neuroscience Imagining Research Laboratory at Wake Forest Baptist.

While lying in an fMRI scanner, the subjects heard two tones that were clearly different (middle A and E on a music scale) but began at almost the same time, only a few thousands of a second between them. The subjects had to report which tone began first. The study was made harder by moving the tones closer together in time. The subjects were not allowed to close their eyes.

The difficulty was adjusted for each person before the scanning to ensure that the task would be equally difficult for everyone. Because conductors are good at these kinds of tasks, the tones were moved much closer together for them.

"Because the task was equally difficult for everybody, the difference observed between conductors and non-musicians must be related to a change in how they deal with irrelevant sensory information, and not just their ability to do the task," said W. David Hairston, Ph.D., the lead author, a post-doctoral fellow in Radiology and the ANSIR lab.

"In general, based on the non-musicians, we suggest that the brain actively increases how much information from other senses gets filtered out or ignored when you have to concentrate really hard on one sense," Hairston said.

He said that conductors, on the other hand, routinely must differentiate very subtle differences in sounds. In addition, they commonly must do this in an ensemble setting, where keeping track of what they see is very important, such as reading scores or pointing out who played the wrong note. The research supports the theory that this experience leads to an ability to focus on a difficult auditory task without having to increase the suppression of visual information.

"Together, these results show that how the brain filters information from different senses is very flexible and adaptive, and changes with the demands of the task at hand. Additionally, how this operates can change with highly specialized training and experience," said Hairston.

Burdette said that future research might compare different kinds of musicians, such as pianists and horn players, for differences in brain organization.

Co-researchers include Donald A. Hodges, Ph.D., Covington Distinguished Professor of Music Education at UNCG, Joseph A. Maldjian, M.D., associate professor in the department of radiology at Wake Forest Baptist, and Hesham H. Hussain, M.D., a graduate of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine, now at the University of Alabama, Birmingham.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Listen Up, Tune Out: Training And Experience Can Affect Brain Organization, Research Shows." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 November 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071104191553.htm>.
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. (2007, November 6). Listen Up, Tune Out: Training And Experience Can Affect Brain Organization, Research Shows. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071104191553.htm
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. "Listen Up, Tune Out: Training And Experience Can Affect Brain Organization, Research Shows." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/11/071104191553.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

Beatings and Addiction: Pakistan Drug 'clinic' Tortures Patients

AFP (July 24, 2014) A so-called drugs rehab 'clinic' is closed down in Pakistan after police find scores of ‘patients’ chained up alleging serial abuse. Duration 03:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

New Painkiller Designed To Discourage Abuse: Will It Work?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) The FDA approved Targiniq ER on Wednesday, a painkiller designed to keep users from abusing it. Like any new medication, however, it has doubters. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

Newsy (July 24, 2014) A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins