There has always been something special about Pink Floyd, both the original and the latter two varieties and now research from the University of California, Berkeley (1) demonstrates the Neuroscience of music using the iconic band’s creation. Fans of the band know that the compendium of musical elements, called prosody (1) — rhythm, stress, accent and intonation make music happen. So, it has always been intriguing how great music is digested by the brain.
Researchers show that they could recreate what the subject is hearing from the electrical activity in the brain. Music has been integral to human survival and communications. Later, words added to musical creations allowed the human brain to integrate complex feelings. This emotional matrix afforded by music may have had a significant effect on human evolution. Selection may have played an important role with modern human brain showing capabilities in the integration of musical components including language. The paper suggests possible clinical applications such as in ALS. In addition to such hardware effects, it is also possible to seek applications on the software side, such as depression. If one can read the brain, then it may be possible to embed mood altering signals to alleviate such diseases.
Researchers also suggest that the right side of the brain is more attuned to music than the left. This is an intriguing result as it has been known that the left dominated language and logic while the right pursued more creative and holistic concepts. The domination of the right in music implies that it is a more comprehensive concept requiring flexible and distributed processing, an idea that may have applications in Artificial Intelligence.
As a generation signs off with one of the greatest bands ever, it is satisfying to think about its music’s plausible contribution to Science.