Music holds the power to lift the spirits and aid the healing process, but scientists are still chasing a clear understanding of how the process works. The answer may lie in the science of animal communication.
Research has shown music therapy to be an effective method of treatment for people with neurological disorders and heart conditions, but the scientific community doesn't yet have a clear explanation of why and how music affects the body.
A new animal study brings researchers one step closer to untangling the mystery of music and the brain. Investigators at Georgetown University Medical Center used electrophysiological recording techniques to study the activity of neurons in the auditory cortex of monkeys, the part of the brain that processes sound. They identified neurons that tuned themselves to complex sounds -- fundamental frequencies and harmonic sounds -- found in monkey vocalizations.
"The understanding of neural mechanisms of 'innate' music features in non-human primates will facilitate an improved understanding of music perception in the human nervous system," Yuki Kikuchi, Ph.D., research associate in the department of physiology and biophysics at Georgetown University Medical Center, was quoted as saying. "This will allow a neurobiological framework from which to understand the basis of the effectiveness of music therapeutic interventions."
SOURCE: Presented at the 39th annual meeting of the Society of Neuroscience