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How your brain responds to music listening can reveal whether you have received musical training, according to new Nordic research conducted in Finland (University of Jyväskylä and AMI Center) and Denmark (Aarhus University).

By applying methods of computational music analysis and machine learning on brain imaging data collected during music listening, the researchers we able to predict with a significant accuracy whether the listeners were musicians or not. These results emphasize the striking impact of musical training on our neural responses to music to the extent of discriminating musicians’ brains from non-musicians’ brains despite other independent factors such as musical preference and familiarity.

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The research also revealed that the brain areas that best predict musicianship exist predominantly in the frontal and temporal areas of the brain’s right hemisphere. These findings conform to previous work on how the brain processes certain acoustic characteristics of music as well as intonation in speech. The paper was published on January 15 in the journal Scientific Reports. (1)

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Once upon a time music was the expression of our soul. Harmony was our way to reunite with the cosmos. We listened to the planets wandering through the dark skies. We slept with the company of joyful notes while we sat by the sea. We wept while we listened to the tragic music of Aeschylus. Our heart became captivated by the sounds filling the air and our spirit travelled to unknown and yet so familiar lands of being and existence simply by standing still.

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Once upon a time we had music.

Once upon a time we had people who listened to the cosmos speaking.

Now we have people trained in music.

People who can understand every single note.

And yet, being deaf with their heart…

The world is still speaking. All you have to do is un-train yourself…

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