Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Music on the Brain
At the Harvard Medical School, Dr. Mark Tramo is doing research on how music affects the brain. His research also suggests that even babies have specific musical likes and dislikes. The dark stripe on the model brain he holds marks an area particularly sensitive to rhythm, melody, and harmony. The good doctor says that "They begin to respond to music while still in the womb. At the age of 4 months, dissonant notes at the end of a melody will cause them to squirm and turn away. If they like a tune, they may coo. "
"Music is in our genes," says Mark Jude Tramo, a musician, prolific songwriter, and neuroscientist at the Harvard Medical School. "Many researchers like myself are trying to understand melody, harmony, rhythm, and the feelings they produce, at the level of individual brain cells. At this level, there may be a universal set of rules that governs how a limited number of sounds can be combined in an infinite number of ways."
"All humans come into the world with an innate capability for music," agrees Kay Shelemay, professor of music at Harvard. "At a very early age, this capability is shaped by the music system of the culture in which a child is raised. That culture affects the construction of instruments, the way people sound when they sing, and even the way they hear sound. By combining research on what goes on in the brain with a cultural understanding of music, I expect we'll learn a lot more than we would by either approach alone."
Imagine how wonderful it would be if music could provide one powerful path to peace!