Researcher at UMDNJ Studies How Music Impacts Different
Areas of the Brain
Study outcomes published in October 2007 edition of NeuroReport
NEWARK—Researchers at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey conducted a basic science study to analyze how the brain responds to pleasant and harsh sounding musical intervals. Outcomes of the pilot study are included in an article entitled, "Neural correlates of the Pythagorean ratio rules" that is published in the October 2007 issue of NeuroReport.
Dr. Eric Altschuler, assistant professor in the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Department at the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, and Dr. Karin James, of the Department of Psychology at Indiana University, used a functional MRI and Pythagorean ratio rules to compare and contrast how the brain responds to different intervals of music. Researchers reviewed the brain scans of 13 students from Indiana University. Each participant’s brain scan, six musicians and seven non-musicians, helped researchers determine their reaction to both pleasant and harsh sounds.
According to Dr. Altschuler, the Pythagorean ratio is the basis for the aesthetics of tone combinations in Western classical music. When the ratio of frequency is simple, pleasing sounds are produced and when it complex, harsh sounds are produced.
Study findings indicate neural activation is much more engaged in all participants when they listen to harsh intervals when compared with pleasant sounds. The brain scans that were done as participants listened to music, measured how sounds triggered different areas of the brain.
"The outcomes of this study could potentially be useful in understanding how the brain processes music," said Dr. Altschuler.
To arrange an interview with Dr. Altschuler, of the UMDNJ-New Jersey Medical School, call Kaylyn Kendall Dines at 973-972-5000.
UMDNJ is the nation's largest free-standing public health sciences university with more than 5,700 students attending the state's three medical schools, its only dental school, a graduate school of biomedical sciences, a school of health related professions, a school of nursing and its only school of public health, on five campuses. Last year, there were more than two million patient visits to UMDNJ facilities and faculty at campuses in Newark, New Brunswick/Piscataway, Scotch Plains, Camden and Stratford. UMDNJ operates University Hospital, a Level I Trauma Center in Newark, and University Behavioral HealthCare, a mental health and addiction services network.