Science establishes link between us, the music and performers at concerts

According to new research, our brains create a connection between us, performers and the music in a shared space. Groovy, man. 

 

 

When you’re at a concert, it is easy to find yourself immersed in the atmosphere and captivated by the artist, so much so that you can feel a connection between you and those around you.

That link is more than just perception, with new research suggesting the link is felt at the neural level, and that the brain activity of performers and listeners sync up.

Previous research exploring the way the brain responds to and enjoys music exists, though we know little when it comes to the neural connection between performers and audience members, a concept this study delves into. 

The researchers used near-infrared spectroscopy scans to examine the blood flow in the brain of a professional violinist as he performed 100-second long clips of music. The same method was used to peep into the brains of 16 audience members witnessing the clips being played back.

 

Inter-brain coherence between the performer and all listeners was found; the same heightened activity in the same specific parts of the brain was consistent amongst each person involved.

 

Inter-brain coherence between the performer and all listeners was found; the same heightened activity in the same specific parts of the brain was consistent amongst each person involved.

The brain regions in question include the left temporal cortex, which is responsible for the processing of rhythm sounds, the right inferior frontal cortex, and the postcentral cortices. The latter two are believed to help in social processes and empathy, enabling one to image themselves ‘walking in someone else’s shoes’.

“Music appreciation involves the brains of music producers and perceivers in a temporally aligned network through which audiences perceive the intentions of the performer and show positive emotions related to the musical performance,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

This new evidence also suggests that the popularity of a piece of music is intrinsically linked to how well brain patterns sync up, hinting that this may be one of the ways our minds begin to appreciate a good song. A noticeable correlation was observed between how well received a piece of music was on average (as rated by the listeners themselves) and the level of inter-brain coherence recorded in the left temporal cortex.

The link was only apparent in the second half of the showing of the clips, suggesting that music appreciation is not a love-at-first-sight affair; aesthetic approval comes only after the recognition of rhythm and structure.

While only a small study, one that doesn’t utilise the recording of brain waves in detail, the findings stand to reinforce the notion that music connects with the brain in a profound way and could prompt future research.

“These findings suggest that neural synchronisation between the audience and the performer might serve as an underlying mechanism for the positive reception of musical performance,” concluded the researches in their paper. “This study expands our understanding of music appreciation.”

 

 

 

 

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