Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Play it again, Sam: How the brain recognizes familiar music

Date:
March 12, 2014
Source:
McGill University
Summary:
Research reveals that the brain’s motor network helps people remember and recognize music that they have performed in the past better than music they have only heard. A recent study sheds new light on how humans perceive and produce sounds, and may pave the way for investigations into whether motor learning could improve or protect memory or cognitive impairment in aging populations.

For the study, researchers recruited twenty skilled pianists from Lyon, France. The group was asked to learn simple melodies by either hearing them several times or performing them several times on a piano. Pianists then heard all of the melodies they had learned, some of which contained wrong notes, while their brain electric signals were measured using electroencephalography (EEG).
Credit: Palmer, Mathias McGill University

Research from McGill University reveals that the brain's motor network helps people remember and recognize music that they have performed in the past better than music they have only heard. A recent study by Prof. Caroline Palmer of the Department of Psychology sheds new light on how humans perceive and produce sounds, and may pave the way for investigations into whether motor learning could improve or protect memory or cognitive impairment in aging populations. The research is published in the journal Cerebral Cortex.

"The memory benefit that comes from performing a melody rather than just listening to it, or saying a word out loud rather than just hearing or reading it, is known as the 'production effect' on memory," says Prof. Palmer, a Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Neuroscience of Performance. "Scientists have debated whether the production effect is due to motor memories, such as knowing the feel of a particular sequence of finger movements on piano keys, or simply due to strengthened auditory memories, such as knowing how the melody tones should sound. Our paper provides new evidence that motor memories play a role in improving listeners' recognition of tones they have previously performed."

For the study, researchers recruited twenty skilled pianists from Lyon, France. The group was asked to learn simple melodies by either hearing them several times or performing them several times on a piano. Pianists then heard all of the melodies they had learned, some of which contained wrong notes, while their brain electric signals were measured using electroencephalography (EEG).

"We found that pianists were better at recognizing pitch changes in melodies they had performed earlier," said the study's first author, Brian Mathias, a McGill PhD student who conducted the work at the Lyon Neuroscience Research Centre in France with additional collaborators Drs. Barbara Tillmann and Fabien Perrin.

The team found that EEG measurements revealed larger changes in brain waves and increased motor activity for previously performed melodies than for heard melodies about 200 milliseconds after the wrong notes. This reveals that the brain quickly compares incoming auditory information with motor information stored in memory, allowing us to recognize whether a sound is familiar.

"This paper helps us understand 'experiential learning', or 'learning by doing', and offers pedagogical and clinical implications," said Mathias, "The role of the motor system in recognizing music, and perhaps also speech, could inform education theory by providing strategies for memory enhancement for students and teachers."

This study was conducted within the framework of the European Erasmus Mundus Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience exchange program, in which North American researchers complete a research project in collaboration with a European laboratory for 6-12 months.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by McGill University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Brian Mathias, Caroline Palmer, Fabien Perrin, and Barbara Tillmann. Sensorimotor Learning Enhances Expectations During Auditory Perception. Cereb. Cortex, March 12, 2014 DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhu030

Cite This Page:

McGill University. "Play it again, Sam: How the brain recognizes familiar music." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 March 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312082117.htm>.
McGill University. (2014, March 12). Play it again, Sam: How the brain recognizes familiar music. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 28, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312082117.htm
McGill University. "Play it again, Sam: How the brain recognizes familiar music." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/03/140312082117.htm (accessed July 28, 2014).

Share This




More Mind & Brain News

Monday, July 28, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Losing Sleep Leaves You Vulnerable To 'False Memories'

Newsy (July 27, 2014) A new study shows sleep deprivation can make it harder for people to remember specific details of an event. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
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

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