Musiciansa€”from karaoke singers to professional cello playersa€”are better able to hear targeted sounds in a noisy environment, according to new research that adds to evidence that music makes the brain work better.
Most recently brain-imaging studies have shown that music activates many diverse parts of the brain, including an overlap in where the brain processes music and language.
Language is a natural aspect to consider in looking at how music affects the brain, Patel said. For example, brains of people exposed to even casual musical training have an enhanced ability to generate the brain wave patterns associated with specific sounds, be they musical or spoken, said study leader Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University in Illinois.
Kraus' previous research had shown that when a person listens to a sound, the brain wave recorded in response is physically the same as the sound wave itself. But for people without a trained ear for music, the ability to make these patterns decreases as background noise increases, experiments show.
At the same time, people with certain developmental disorders, such as dyslexia, have a harder time hearing sounds amid the dina€”a serious problem, for example, for students straining to hear the teacher in a noisy classroom.
Musical experience could therefore be a key therapy for children with dyslexia and similar language-related disorders, Kraus said today at the 2010 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
In a similar vein, Harvard Medical School neuroscientist Gottfried Schlaug has found that stroke patients who have lost the ability to speak can be trained to say hundreds of phrases by singing them first.
In research also presented today at the AAAS meeting, Schlaug demonstrated the results of intensive musical therapy on patients with lesions on the left sides of their brains, those areas most associated with language. Before the therapy, these stroke patients responded to questions with largely incoherent sounds and phrases. Success varied depending on how recently a person had had a stroke and the severity of the damage, he noted. National Geographic Channels showcase leading explorers, scientists, environmentalists, film makers and renowned photographers. I recently stumbled across a vintage photography treasure trove — the National Geographic Found Tumblr. The Tumblr was launched back in March to celebrate National Geographic’s 125th anniversary, but it feels like the magazine just needed a venue to share some of the fascinating images its collected over the years.
This entry was posted in Space and tagged Astronauts, NASA, National Geographic, Photography, Rockets by RSB. About UsWe're a Texas-based Science & Art blog showcasing some of the best creative projects in the world. Scientists achieved the first remote human-to-human brain interface this week, when Rajesh Rao sent a brain signal over the Internet that moved the hand of colleague Andrea Stoccoa€”even though Stocco was sitting all the way across the University of Washington's campus.
Using one human brain to direct another person's body via the Internet was an amazing breakthrough. Electroencephalography (EEG) headwear devices record the electric signals that are produced when the brain is at work and can connect them wirelessly to a computer.


For example, thinking about pushing a button on the computer screen produces a brainwave pattern that computer software can then recognize and associate with that task. To make music, such thoughts are associated with notes or sounds to create a language of musical thought that's produced directly from the brain.
For an example of the way the mind can create music and other forms of art, check out the MiND ensemble (Music in Neural Dimensions) from the University of Michigan. Like a tough personal secretary, Ruggero Scorcioni's Good Times app filters the incoming calls of busy mobile phone users by simply monitoring the state of the user's brain. Earlier this year, Scorcioni won an AT&T Mobile App Hackathon with the iOS app, which uses the cuddly Necomimi Cat Ears brainwave-reading headset to monitor brain activity and reroute calls to voicemail when it perceives that the user's brain is busy with other tasks. With $30,000 in Hackathon prize money in hand, Scorcioni is fine-tuning his prototype, which he views as a first step in the way our brain states might directly control mobile devices and our individual environments. George Laskowsky, the chief technical officer of the Santiago-based startup Thinker Thing, created the first-ever such object in January 2012. The Thinker Thing system employs an Emotiv EPOC EEG headset to map its wearer's brainwaves. The company's Monster Dreamer project gave schoolkids the opportunity to use the software to create the monster of their dreams, or nightmares, in a matter of minutes. For the disabled, the ability to move about using the power of their minds could be life changing. By 2009, Japanese scientists at Toyota and research lab RIKEN announced a thought-controlled wheelchair that used an EEG sensor cap to capture brainwaves and turn them into directional commands in just 125 thousandths of a seconda€”with 95 percent accuracy. The system also eases the strain of command because users needn't continually instruct the chaira€”the software processes a single directional command and automatically repeats it as often as needed to navigate the space. German engineers at the Free University of Berlin have attempted to take this concept on the open road with a car that can be partially controlled by the driver's thoughts. Researchers at Case Western Reserve University, now working with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), developed the prosthetic, which can be seen in action here and was unveiled in May 2013. Another DARPA-backed prosthetic arm flips this script by efficiently transmitting information from brain to arm, rather than vice versa, through a technique called targeted muscle re-innervation. Burnham Senior Fellow at the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, said today at a press briefing. Musicians, by contrast, have subconsciously trained their brains to better recognize selective sound patterns, even as background noise goes up. But several patients were eventually able to teach themselves new words and phrases by turning them into tunes, and few were even able to move beyond simple phrases and give short speeches. She added that musical training, whatever the age, should be universally encouraged, since it can play a key role in education, clinical therapies, and even in protective measures for keeping the brain sharp as people age.
But other feats of mind control are already realities, particularly in the realm of human machine interfaces (HMIs).


But now musicians might be able to eliminate the need for tools and interfaces like sheet musica€”or even playing an instrumenta€”by simply creating music directly with their thoughts. Their wearers can also train their minds to associate a set of EEG brain signals with a specific task. With this established, users can simply think musical scores to life and play them via the computer.
Someday it might enable more brain-driven mobile device features that require no user input, like his Good Tunes concept, which would read brainwaves and then play music best matching the wearer's personal preferences for their current brain state.
As the software processes brain feedback, the well-received shapes and changes are kept and expanded, while the disliked ones fade away. To that end, scientists have worked for years on wheelchairs and other devices that could restore mobility to those who had lost control of their own bodies but still had sharp minds. Their chair's software analyzes the surrounding area's cluttered environment and blends that information with the driver's brain commands to avoid problems like collisions with objects. The team took an autonomous Volkswagen Passat, one of the emerging breed of driverless vehicles, and outfitted it with a computer system and software designed to work with Emotiv's commercially available EEG brain-scanning headset.
The onboard computer then analyzed and converted those thoughts to commands recognized by the car itself each time they were thought by the driver. This ability enables tasks many take for granted, like removing something from inside a grocery bag, and knowing how hard to grip items with the prosthetic hand.
DARPA is a leader in the development of advanced prosthetics, in part because more than 2,000 U.S.
The procedure rewires nerves from amputated limbs to enable more natural brain control of the prosthetica€”and make possible some amazing abilities. Glen Lehman, who was wounded in Iraq, demonstrates his ability to manipulate the arm with his mind, drink coffee, and bounce a tennis ball with a prosthetic limb.
But a Chilean company has announced the first object to be created by thought alonea€”paired with the growing power of the latest 3-D printing machines. The process is repeated until a final object is produced according to the thought preferences of the designer. In some cases, experts say, prosthetics can already offer more functionality than heavily damaged human limbs.



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