Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

This is your brain on freestyle rap: Study reveals characteristic brain patterns of lyrical improvisation

Date:
November 15, 2012
Source:
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Summary:
Researchers have shown that freestyle rapping is associated with a unique functional reallocation of brain activity in the prefrontal cortex and proposes a novel neural network that appears to be intimately involved in improvisatory and creative endeavors.

NIDCD researcher Ho Ming Chow with rapper Mike Eagle who is about to find out what his brain looks like when he's freestyling.
Credit: Image courtesy of NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders

Researchers in the voice, speech, and language branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the brain activity of rappers when they are "freestyling" -- spontaneously improvising lyrics in real time.

The findings, published online in the Nov. 15 issue of the journal Scientific Reports, reveal that this form of vocal improvisation is associated with a unique functional reallocation of brain activity in the prefrontal cortex and proposes a novel neural network that appears to be intimately involved in improvisatory and creative endeavors.

The researchers, led by Siyuan Liu, Ph.D., scanned the brains of 12 freestyle rap artists (who had at least 5 years of rapping experience) while they performed two tasks using an identical 8-bar musical track. For the first task, they improvised rhyming lyrics and rhythmic patterns guided only by the beat. In the second task, they performed a well-rehearsed set of lyrics.

During freestyle rapping, the researchers observed increases in brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, a brain region responsible for motivation of thought and action, but decreased activity in dorsolateral prefrontal regions that normally play a supervisory or monitoring role. Like an experienced parent who knows when to lay down the law and when to look the other way, these shifts in brain function may facilitate the free expression of thoughts and words without the usual neural constraints.

Freestyling also increased brain activity in the perisylvian system (involved in language production), the amygdala (an area of the brain linked to emotion), and cingulate motor areas, suggesting that improvisation engages a brain network that links motivation, language, mood, and action. Further studies of this network in other art forms that involve the innovative use of language, such as poetry and storytelling, could offer more insights into the initial, improvisatory phase of the creative process.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Siyuan Liu, Ho Ming Chow, Yisheng Xu, Michael G. Erkkinen, Katherine E. Swett, Michael W. Eagle, Daniel A. Rizik-Baer, Allen R. Braun. Neural Correlates of Lyrical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of Freestyle Rap. Scientific Reports, 2012; 2 DOI: 10.1038/srep00834

Cite This Page:

NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. "This is your brain on freestyle rap: Study reveals characteristic brain patterns of lyrical improvisation." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 November 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133154.htm>.
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. (2012, November 15). This is your brain on freestyle rap: Study reveals characteristic brain patterns of lyrical improvisation. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133154.htm
NIH/National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. "This is your brain on freestyle rap: Study reveals characteristic brain patterns of lyrical improvisation." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/11/121115133154.htm (accessed October 21, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

First-Of-Its-Kind Treatment Gives Man Ability To Walk Again

Newsy (Oct. 21, 2014) A medical team has for the first time given a man the ability to walk again after transplanting cells from his brain onto his severed spinal cord. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Portable Breathalyzer Gets You Home Safely

Buzz60 (Oct. 21, 2014) Breeze, a portable breathalyzer, gets you home safely by instantly showing your blood alcohol content, and with one tap, lets you call an Uber, a cab or a friend from your contact list to pick you up. Sean Dowling (@SeanDowlingTV) has the details. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Your Birth Season Might Determine Your Temperament

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A new study says the season you're born in can determine your temperament — and one season has a surprising outcome. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Movies Might Desensitize Violence For Parents, Not Just Kids

Newsy (Oct. 20, 2014) A study suggests that parents become desensitized to violent movies as well as children, which leads them to allow their kids to view violent films. 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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

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