An article in Nature online by the Science writer Philip Ball, author of The Music Instinct, how music works and why we can’t do without it:
It's not hard to understand why Robert Schumann was selected as the focus of a meeting called The Musical Brain: Arts, Science and the Mind, which took place last weekend in London. Not only is this year the two-hundredth anniversary of the German composer's birth, but his particular 'musical brain' gives neuroscientists plenty to think about. Click here to read the full article
Hearts and minds by Guy Dammann
"Birds whistle, man alone sings, and one cannot hear either a song or an instrumental piece without immediately saying to oneself: another sensitive being is present." The author of this sentence, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, remains best known for his political and moral philosophy that later inspired a revolution. But his thoughts on music were just as prescient of an aesthetic revolution that would lead to music being raised from the lowly place it occupied during his lifetime - that of poetry's "handmaiden" - to the position it took during the 19th century, as the highest, most noble, most humane of the fine arts.
Music affects us in lots of ways - it can invoke memories, provoke emotions, and move us to activity (dancing, singing along, making music ourselves). So looking at how the brain responds when a person is listening to music tells us a lot about the role the brain plays in memory, emotion and activity, and how these things are related to each other. Music also gives neurologists a way into talking about the ‘nature/nurture’ debate by comparing the brains of talented musicians with those of ordinary people. Jenni discusses what music can tell us about the kinds of beings we are with Dr Jessica Grahn of Cambridge University and Dr Katie Overy from the University of Edinburgh.