The never-ending mysteries of music and the brain


Now that my laptop is back in action after a week of refusing to power on, I have been catching up on my blog reading and saw that Val found her most recent topic post via StumbleUpon. I had completely forgotten about this awesome website and immediately started stumbling (if you haven’t tried this yet, go to, but beware—it’s a time-sucker!). After selecting the ‘neuroscience’ category, I quickly found so many things I could write about! Some of the topics and articles I came across were misleading and may or may not have been supported by the primary literature, but that’s another story.

While on StumbleUpon, I came across two very interesting ideas concerning music and the brain. The first I don’t have much to say about other than, “That’s awesome!” In this video, Bobby McFerrin gets the audience to sing the pentatonic scale without ever explicitly teaching them every note. That will hopefully make more sense after watching the video! The statement at the very end of the short clip resonated with me: No matter where Bobby McFerrin goes to demonstrate this phenomenon, the audience always responds in the same way. Does this say something about the underlying importance of music to the evolution of our communication?


The second link that caught my eye was a headline saying music may be the secret to a good night’s sleep. Although this article is from Mail Online (certainly not our favorite, as we’ve seen in past seminar discussions of misleading headlines), the title intrigued me nonetheless. I often listen to music when falling asleep and find that when I don’t, I don’t sleep as well. This is merely an observation from my own experience of course, but it’s interesting to see that there may be some biological reason behind this. Read the article for yourself and decide if this is a Mail Online article you would trust!


2 thoughts on “The never-ending mysteries of music and the brain

  1. WOOOOOOW! I found that video absolutely AMAZING! Definitely does make me curious about the how the brain is involved with music. That was awesome. Thanks for sharing that, Chels!


  2. I wonder how much of it is because we have evolved to process human speech, which is basically the most complex form of communication that we know of. Sensing intonation and being able to communicate with a culture, or even a species, might be so important that musical understanding comes along with it. Auditory stimuli might simply be THAT important to us, and that importance translates into music.


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