Mapping the Music of the Mind

Study details brain area that processes melodies

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THURSDAY, Dec. 12, 2002 (HealthDayNews) -- Do you have a song in your head that you just can't shake?

Researchers at Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., say they're getting closer to learning why some melodies stick in your mind or why hearing a particular song can transport you back to a special event, like a high school dance.

The researchers have found and mapped an area in the brain that processes and tracks music. The same brain area is also active during reasoning and memory retrieval. Their findings appear in the tomorrow's issue of Science.

The area of the brain where they mapped musical activity is called the rostromedial prefrontal cortex. It's centrally located, right behind your forehead.

The researchers used functional magnetic resonance imaging to take brain images of eight people as they listened to an 8-minute music piece specifically created to shift in specific ways between and around all 24 major and minor music keys.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about the brain and music.

SOURCE: Dartmouth College, news release, Dec. 12, 2002

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