In The Field

AAAS 2010: This is your brain on music

In one of the more astonishing demonstrations heard at Saturday’s music and language session, Northwestern University neuroscientist Nina Kraus started by playing the sound of someone saying the syllable ‘da’. Then she showed an electronic analysis of the sound as recorded by a sensitive microphone. It was a short burst of oscillating waves that sudden rose in amplitude, then quickly faded to nothing. Next, she show the electrical signals her lab had recorded in a subjects’ brain stem as he listened to the sound. It looked almost identical. Finally, she played the brain stem recording through the speakers: it clearly said ‘da’, only slightly distorted. 


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