Scientists who are part of the American Physiological Society have concluded in a new study that people who do not have musical training also have brain regions dedicated to the identification and emotional reception of music, regardless of even the knowledge of a particular genre.
Exposure to specific sounds has been shown to cause long-term changes in the auditory cortex, the area of the brain that processes sound. But there is an area of ”musical selectivity,” composed of neural populations that respond more to music than to other types of sounds.
According to a press release , the new study found that selective regions of music in the cerebral cortex responded strongly to familiar and unfamiliar musical sounds, compared to non-musical sounds or different noises, in both the musician and the participants. people without musical training.
This would indicate that there is a specifically human ability for music inextricably linked to our species, since neurons of “musical selectivity” arise and act independently of music training. Now, scientists will seek to determine whether this ability reflects implicit knowledge gained through typical exposure to music or whether it is present from birth.
THE OPERATION OF MUSICAL SELECTIVITY
According to specialists, the results show that passive exposure to music is sufficient for the development of musical selectivity in the brain. At the same time, emotional and cognitive responses extend to rhythms with little preponderance of melody and to relatively unknown genres or musical styles, for example because they are removed from people’s everyday cultural experience.
It is worth clarifying that the scientists emphasize that the characteristics of music seem not to be so important for the areas of the brain dedicated to musical selectivity to be put into action. That is why they emphasize that the presence of easy-to-remember melodies or that cause an immediate emotional impact is not necessary. They also explain that the brain reacts even to instrument sounds clearly distant from the culture in which the receiver lives.
NNATE OR LEARNED?
As part of the research, the scientists used functional magnetic resonance imaging to observe the neuronal populations that make up the area of musical selectivity, in young adult volunteers. Half of the participants had less than two years of musical training, while the remaining 50% of the volunteers had an average of 16 years of musical training.
Participants listened to two-second long pieces, including 192 natural sounds from multiple musical genres and a wide variety of instruments. Some of them belonged to rhythmic instruments or did not show a melodic development. At the same time, many of these sounds corresponded to styles that people trained in Western culture are not used to hearing.
One of the questions that this study raises as a question to be resolved is whether the musical selectivity present in the cortical area of the brain responds to an implicit learning obtained through permanent exposure to music or if, on the contrary, it is present from innate form in the human being. Do we have a kind of genetic-based musical knowledge that is transmitted from generation to generation or do we develop it from the stimuli received at the cultural level?