Classical Musicians Think Differently

One of my friends, Keith Ray, sent me news of a study by Crystal Gibson, Bradley Folley and Sohee Park via email (excerpted below):

Vanderbilt University psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.

The study concludes,

“When we measured subjects’ prefrontal cortical activity while completing the alternate uses task, we found that trained musicians had greater activity in both sides of their frontal lobes. Because we equated musicians and non-musicians in terms of their performance, this finding was not simply due to the musicians inventing more uses; there seems to be a qualitative difference in how they think about this information,” Folley said. The researchers also found that, overall, the musicians had higher IQ scores than the non-musicians, supporting recent studies that intensive musical training is associated with an elevated IQ score [emphasis added].

Now, we all knew that those kids in the orchestra were different; we just didn’t know how different they were! They use both sides of their brains to think, and they’re smarter than the average person, too–that hardly seems fair!

Conductor with baton addresses audience, saying, That concludes tonight's performance of Pimp My Ride of the Valkyries. Behind him on stage is monster truck and a few musicians with their instruments.

New Yorker Cartoon
Tom Cheney

See the Neuroanatomy page for an explanation of what the various affected parts of the brain do, and read the posts on Brain Function for more information.

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