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Sounds of Music

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By Dan Bart | December 20, 2015 1:11 pm

A pioneering studies has determined that human brain has specific set of nerve cells that respond only to sounds of music.

Until now, many neuroscientists believed that musical appreciation was the same as understanding of human speech or other complex sounds.

A pioneering studies has determined that human brain has specific set of nerve cells that respond only to sounds of music.

A pioneering studies has determined that human brain has specific set of nerve cells that respond only to sounds of music.

But recently scientists found that one particular set of neurons of the brain fired their electrical impulses only when humans were listening to music.

The fact that there appears to be that brain responds to music highly selectively.

-Response of brain cells and the method we developed to measure it, provides a tool that could in principle yield insights into the evolution of music. We can now probe for the existence of comparable responses in infants, to test whether music-selective responses are present from birth or developed later. Although our findings will need further investigation, the results could support the idea that there are specific cells in human brain which has evolved to appreciate a melodious tune or vibrant rhythm, said researchers.

Previously, researchers had thought that appreciation of music was a side-effect of being able to detect and decipher other complex sounds.  However, the new study suggests music may even have played a role in evolution and development of human brain.

In both cases the responses were strikingly selective – the neural response is strong when people listen to music, in one case, or speech, in another, and much less strong to every other type of sound.

The study, published last week on-line, involved exposing 10 volunteers to 165 different sounds, including segments of speech and fragments of music, as well as everyday sounds such as footsteps, a car ignition or a ringing telephone.

It is also not yet clear whether these “musically wired” brain cells can explain differences in musical ability, which appears to involve both genes and upbringing.

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