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“This is Your Brain on Music” – Any Questions? May 16, 2007

Posted by Dr. Rohn Kessler in auditory, children, music, neuroscience.
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Why do we remember songs from our adolescence? Is it simply that our teen years tend to be emotionally charged, or is there something deeper happening in the developing brain? Do infants benefit from music? What about in the womb?

As adults, the music we identify with is the music we heard during those teen years.

I am reading a wonderful book called This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel Levitin. The author is a musical neuroscientist who discusses how we experience music and why it plays such an important role in our lives.

If you are an adult, go back in your mind to music you listened to when you were a teen-ager. Do any songs come to mind? Of course they do. As adults, the music we identify with is the music we heard during those years.

By the age of fourteen the wiring of our musical brains is approaching adult-like levels of completion .

Around the age of ten or eleven most children become interested in music, and by the age of fourteen the wiring of our musical brains is approaching adult-like levels of completion. It seems that throughout adolescence our brains are developing and forming new connections at an explosive rate but this process slows down “substantially” after our teenage years.

Why do we remember songs from our adolescence? One reason is because these were years of self-discovery and very emotionally charged. “In general, we tend to remember things that have an emotional component because our amygdala and neurotransmitters act in concert to “tag” the memories as something important.”

While adults can acquire a taste for new kinds of music at any time, most of us have formed ours by the time we are eighteen or twenty.

What kind of music are your children and grandchildren listening to in these critical years between the ages of ten and fourteen? What about all the children in the country? In the entire world?

This Is Your Brain on Music is subtitled “The Science of a Human Obsession.” Because music is such a pervasive and powerful force, current neuroscience research suggests we pay close attention to the music our children are listening to, singing, dancing to and playing.

Next time we’ll discuss “safe” and “dangerous” music as well as music in the womb and the auditory world of infants.

Dr. Rohn Kessler

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