13 posts · 5,294 views
Undergraduate medievalist and linguist, hoping to move into cognitive linguistics research with a focus on the biological evolution of language. Also a writer of poetry, short fiction and contemporary music.
Last week, I commented on the first half of a research article about music and language acquisition in which the authors started by proposing a comprehensive, scientific definition of music. In brief, they suggested quite credibly that any sound which is perceived by humans should be considered music, though I offered the refinement that only sound perceived by humans for its own sake should be considered music, the main distinction being intention. But the reason they went through the trouble o........ Read more »
I recently came across an extremely interesting and very well-written article in Frontiers in Psychology suggesting that, during childhood, the brain treats language as a specialised form of music. I was particularly impressed because the article is ripe with cross-cultural examples, features discussions of obscure 20th century music, and begins with a thorough, systematic attempt to define music. The authors Brandt, Gebrian, and Slevc make a good case both for their definition and their approac........ Read more »
Late last year, some researchers in the U.S. conducted a study that tried to determine the changing literary influences on writers, and the story seemed to be making the rounds on the news last week. The essential thesis is this: the influence of classic writers on our contemporaries is not what it used to be. Put in those terms, it sounds rather condemning, as though today’s writers are not reading up on their Chaucer and Milton and so are less culturally informed. That’s certainly ........ Read more »
Hughes JM, Foti NJ, Krakauer DC, & Rockmore DN. (2012) 'Quantitative patterns of stylistic influence in the evolution of literature'. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(20), 7682-6. PMID: 22547796
Evolution is surely my favourite of all scientific theories. Sure, stars dying so that we could live is astoundingly humbling, and the sheer incomprehensibility of quantum mechanics is what makes it so intellectually titillating, but evolution explains the origins and inter-connectedness of the universe’s most glorious feat: life. And yet, despite having developed these marvellous mammalian brains, we are fallible creatures prone to idiocy, and evolution is a theory widely abused.
Some tim........ Read more »
Satoshi Kanazawa, Kaja Perina. (2011) Why More Intelligent Individuals Like Classical Music. Behavioral Decision Making. info:/10.1002/bdm.730
Three scientists from University College London (two from the psychology and language department, one from cognitive neuroscience) have written an article for the journal Neuron called ‘Neuroscience in the Public Sphere’, which highlights widespread problems with the way the media reports neuroscience studies and, therefore, popular misunderstandings of current scientific knowledge and research techniques.
Their sample comprised 2,931 articles from the past 10 years in six UK newspa........ Read more »
As with all the arts, a fundamental pleasure of listening to music is exploration. We each have favourite pieces and composers, and special works that we frequently return to for their nostalgic and sentimental value, but the general listening trend... Read more »
Loui, P., Wessel, D., & Kam, C. (2010) Humans Rapidly Learn Grammatical Structure in a New Musical Scale. Music Perception, 27(5), 377-388. DOI: 10.1525/mp.2010.27.5.377
Another recent study (this one conducted by laboratories in Beijing and Montreal) has shown a link between the mental processing of music and language, though this time by looking at cognitive dysfunction. Most people could not imagine living without the capacity for enjoying and creating music, but … Continue reading →... Read more »
Nan Y, Sun Y, & Peretz I. (2010) Congenital amusia in speakers of a tone language: association with lexical tone agnosia. Brain: a journal of neurology, 133(9), 2635-42. PMID: 20685803
I think just about everyone recognises the ability of some music to slow our hearts and gently lull us into a state of sublime relaxation, or, alternatively, to get our blood pumping and the adrenaline flowing so that we can … Continue reading →... Read more »
Phipps MA, Carroll DL, & Tsiantoulas A. (2010) Music as a therapeutic intervention on an inpatient neuroscience unit. Complementary therapies in clinical practice, 16(3), 138-42. PMID: 20621273
Have you ever wondered why hearing certain pitches in a certain order can stir feelings of sadness? A study recently published in the journal Emotion by Meagan E. Curtis and Jamshed J. Bharucha explores this strange but fundamental quality of music.... Read more »
Curtis, M., & Bharucha, J. (2010) The minor third communicates sadness in speech, mirroring its use in music. Emotion, 10(3), 335-348. DOI: 10.1037/a0017928
We should all know by now that the supposed 'Mozart effect' - the notion that listening to Mozart can boost your cognitive capabilities - is bunk. But some recent research suggests that learning to play an instrument (rather than passively listening) could significantly boost our abilities.... Read more »
Wan, C., & Schlaug, G. (2010) Music Making as a Tool for Promoting Brain Plasticity across the Life Span. The Neuroscientist, 16(5), 566-577. DOI: 10.1177/1073858410377805
A recent study published in the journal Cortex (Are left fronto-temporal brain areas a prerequisite for normal music-syntactic processing?) has provided further evidence that the brain’s capacity for language both allows and is necessary for music cognition.... Read more »
Sammler, D., Koelsch, S., & Friederici, A. (2011) Are left fronto-temporal brain areas a prerequisite for normal music-syntactic processing?. Cortex, 47(6), 659-673. DOI: 10.1016/j.cortex.2010.04.007
As all classical music lovers know, the genre suffers in the modern world (mostly among young people) from the perception that it is boring, elitist, or both. So a recent study set out to find out what might entice newcomers to classical music.... Read more »
Dobson, M. (2010) New Audiences for Classical Music: The Experiences of Non-attenders at Live Orchestral Concerts. Journal of New Music Research, 39(2), 111-124. DOI: 10.1080/09298215.2010.489643
This evening, I'm delighted to be seeing Hélène Grimaud perform at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford. Alongside a rendition of Brahms's monumental first symphony, she'll be playing Schumann's well-loved Piano Concerto, but should I perhaps focus more on her clothes than her playing?... Read more »
Griffiths, N. (2009) 'Posh music should equal posh dress': an investigation into the concert dress and physical appearance of female soloists. Psychology of Music, 38(2), 159-177. DOI: 10.1177/0305735608100372
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