• More
  • About Us

Creativity: Your Brain on Improv

I know what you’re thinking.  How can one scientifically analyze a concept that, by its very nature, is capricious and unpredictable?  Dr. Charles Limb, a faculty member of the Peabody Conservatory of Music, has done a fascinating study on the activity of the brain when engaged in a musical activity.

Using a Functional MRI machine, which not only takes pictures but also monitors blood flow to the different areas of the brain, Dr. Limb put jazz musicians and rappers through a series of exercises to see what goes on neurologically when we play music.  From what he has found, our brains react very differently when performing a memorized piece of music versus improvising.  During improvisation, areas of our frontal lobe which are thought to be responsible for self-monitoring (self-reflection, introspection and memory) were turned off, while other areas that are thought to be responsible for self-expression turned on.  There seems to be an interesting shift in dynamic that occurs when your brain transitions from being inhibited and assigned limitations versus given the freedom to be creative.

Perhaps even more fascinating was Dr. Limb’s second experiment, during which he and renowned jazz musician and composer Mike Pope took turns improvising back and forth with one another.  Results show that areas of Mike’s brain which are thought to be responsible for language and expressive communication suddenly began lighting up on the FMRI monitor.  Similar results were found when rappers were monitored during freestyling.  Could it be that there is a neurological basis for the sentiment that music is indeed a language of its own?

To watch the presentation Dr. Limb introduced at the TED Conference this past November which details the process involved in obtaining these results, click here.

Save

Save

Save

Mandy Kubikhttp://jwpepper.com
Singer/Songwriter; Keyboard, Piano, Flute Player; Certified Associate Recording Engineer/Producer; Music Advocate; Regional Manager, J.W. Pepper, Michigan

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Featured Posts

Share this post

LATEST POSTS

Writing Educational Music: A Composer Forum

Part I: A Composer’s Journey Behind every piece of music there is a story – an experience or creative...

An Interview with Composer Sarah Quartel

Choral composer Sarah Quartel grew up in a household filled with music. Whether it was her mother singing Italian arias in the...

How Editors’ Choice Helps Music Teachers and Directors

Every spring, piles of new sheet music are stacked in nooks and crannies around J.W. Pepper’s corporate office. The works come from...

Pepper and Penn Commemorate the Life of James Welsh Pepper

It was over 140 years ago that James Welsh Pepper first started the company that still carries his name. Setting up shop...

Back to School: Setting Up and Decorating Your Music Room

Music teacher David Fernandes says he faced unexpected challenges when he had to set up his music room during his first year...