How Music Affects Your Brain: Notes on the Folds

Scientists are now finally discovering what thinkers, musicians, or even any of us with a Spotify account and a set of headphones could have told you on instinct: music lights up multiple corners of the brain, strengthening our neural networks, firing up memory and emotion, and showing us what it means to be human. In fact, music is as essential to being human as language and may even predate it. Can music also repair broken networks, restore memory, and strengthen the brain?

PARTICIPANTS: Meagan Curtis, Mari Kimura, Edward Large, Psyche Loui, David Poeppel

MODERATOR: John Schaefer


This program is part of the “Big, the Small, and the Complex,” series sponsored by The Kavli Foundation and The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. The Kavli Prize recognizes scientists for their seminal advances in astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.

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0:31 – Music performance
1:16 – Participant Intros
2:10 – What makes a piece of music sound “ghostly”
3:45 – How music syncs up with the brain stem
4:36 – Individual variability in response to music
6:06 – Neuroscience and the study of music
8:01 – How does the brain interpret music differently than speech?
9:53 – How do you compose music that aligns with an audience?
11:33 – How do musicians keep performances ‘fresh’?
16:25 – What kinds of composition elicits emotion?
17:44 – Using rhythm to stimulate the brain and makes you want to move.
20:00 – How do you study the brain’s response to music?
21:49 – How much does culture affect our emotional response to music?
26:11 – At what age do children respond to the emotion and rhythm of music?
29:43 – How music triggers memories from childhood
30:20 – How sad music can create a positive experience
33:05 – Why do some people get chills or shivers while listening to music and others don’t?
41:55 – This history of science studying music – why do certain notes sound good together?
43:36 – Why should science study music?
48:40 – Do other animal species respond to music the same way we do?

– Produced by Nils Kongshaug and Christine Driscoll

This program was recorded live at the 2018 World Science Festival and has been edited and condensed for YouTube.
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