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Wednesday, 18 March, 2009

Advances In Brain Synchronization
(with comments)

Music / science news: Guitarists' Brains Swing Together.

When musicians play along together it isn't just their instruments that are in time - their brain waves are too. New research shows how EEG readouts from pairs of guitarists become more synchronized, a finding with wider potential implications for how our brains interact when we do.

[Researchers] used electroencephalography (EEG) to record the brain electrical activity in eight pairs of guitarists. Each of the pairs played a short jazz-fusion melody together up to 60 times while the EEG picked up their brain waves via electrodes on their scalps.

The similarities among the brainwaves' phase, both within and between the brains of the musicians, increased significantly: first when listening to a metronome beat in preparation; and secondly as they began to play together. The brains' frontal and central regions showed the strongest synchronization patterns, as the researchers expected. However the temporal and parietal regions also showed relatively high synchronization in at least half of the pairs of musicians. The regions may be involved in processes supporting the coordinated action between players, or in enjoying the music.

The image shows two random musicians --with brains that may or may not be in synch.

Permalink | Posted in Music |
  1. By Jasper Flint. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @07:53am:
    New research shows how EEG readouts from pairs of guitarists...

    The research was done on guitarists. They tried to replicate the study on banjo players, but they couldn't locate their brains.
  2. By Bisbonian. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @08:39am:
    My next door neighbor plays the guitar, and sings, mostly Bluegrass standards. We play together often in the evenings, but I have a hard time hearing the guitar over the banjo (24 years of flying jets doesn't help), and I have to concentrate so much to stay with him (visually usually works better), that it's hard to get into the groove. We played with a fiddle player last week, though, and it was a completely different story. She knew more of the songs I know well, nd the fiddle was much louder, and she just pulled the two of us along really well. I have never had so much fun playing music together. I think they may have been able to find my brainwaves on that day :)
  3. By decibelcat. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @09:28am:
    There are musicians that I have played with whom I have been able to "synch" up with immediately, well enough that members of the audience told us that they thought we had been playing together for years, despite the fact that what they heard was the first time we had ever played music together.
  4. By wally the duck. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @10:12am:
    This certainly explains my utter and complete lack of musical ability.
  5. By Banjo Brad. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @11:48am:
    Thanks, J-Walk, for assuming that what brain I have left is capable of syncing!
  6. By 12-stringer. Comment posted 18-Mar-2009 @01:46pm:
    And in our final story tonight, more musically-related science news:

    from BMJ (British Medical Journal), published 12 December 2008: A Symphony of Maladies

    ... although, after 34 years, in yet another scandal dubbed "Scrotumgate" (Google that, if you dare), two of the listed conditions (under subheading "Dermatological conditions", footnotes 29 & 32) have now been revealed to be hoaxes.

    Based on the positioning of the non-fiddle instrument in the image of the "random musicians" pictured above, I will leave it to our host to confirm or refute any similar afflictions which may beleaguer banjo players (and no, I'm not referring to "banjo legs").
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