Sunday, January 20, 2008

Brain Science: Train your brain for multi-tasking

As reported by John Tierney of the New York Times (center-left news media, USA), researchers at Wake Forest University and University of North Carolina Greensboro (both in the USA), there may be something to the "Train your brain" fad, at least if you are musical conductor:

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to map the brains of musical conductors and non-musicians who tried to distinguish musical tones while also being shown visual images. The scans showed that non-musicians had to turn off more of their visual sense than the conductors did in order to focus on the task. One of the researchers, Dr. Hodges, director of the Music Research Institute at UNC-Greensboro, says there are two possible interpretations of the results:

One is that the brains of musicians are wired this way, and that’s why they became musicians. The other is that they train their brains for rewiring. Because conductors have to be able to hear a bad note, then identify who did it, perhaps they rewire their brains to combine their visual and auditory senses. An experienced conductor has trained day after day, year after year, to let their brains pick up various signals from their senses.

The article is quite good and highly worth reading through.

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