The Teenage Mind

The internal experience of the young adult

Music on the Brain

Ever wondered what brain centers are used to enjoy music?

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For those of you interested in music and the brain, I recommend Daniel Levitin's book, This is Your Brain on Music. Levin’s book is especially interesting because he started his career as a musician. He knows a lot about music and has some interesting stories about songs and musicians. He now teaches and researches at McGill. In his book he talks about the brain, how music is processed, and related MRI research. What was interesting to me is how many parts of the brain are used to process music. Given that music can evoke powerful emotions, I assumed that the amygdala and primitive brain centers would be involved. Surprisingly, listening to music involves anticipation and memory which rely on higher cerebral functions. Many brain centers are used to enjoy music. There is not one localized brain center for music. In a very accessible book, Levin combines his knowledge about music with state of the art neuroscience. Anyone who is interested in music and the brain should definitely read this book.

Jann Gumbiner, Ph.D., is a licensed psychologist and clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine College of Medicine.

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