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What Happens When the Brain Listens to Music?


Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging

(fMRI)

A way to measure brain activity

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1. An MRI scan can lets you see the structure of the brain. But it can also measure brain activity.

2. When neurons are active they need more energy.  They get this by signaling to nearby blood vessels that they need access to more blood.

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3. The increased diameter of blood vessels can be mapped onto a three-dimensional image of a subject’s brain (as shown here in red)


Listening to music activates multiple brain areas

The fMRI study shown here demonstrates the many different areas of the brain that are activated in a person listening to music. A number of different studies have shown that just listening to music can activate areas of the brain involved in:

  • Attention

  • Memory

  • Expectations / Rules

  • Emotion

Janata, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1060:111-124, 2005

Janata, Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1060:111-124, 2005


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