Research Topic

The musical brain

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About this Research Topic

This Research Topic is cross-listed in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. If you want to submit through Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, please click ...

This Research Topic is cross-listed in the journal Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience. If you want to submit through Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, please click here.

The interaction between music and our brain is complex, engaging neural circuits related to sensory perception, learning and memory, emotion, and motor production. Over the past decades, neuroscience research has begun exploring how the brain “hears” music, identifying regions of the human brain important for rhythm, pitch, timbre, melody, and harmony perception. Experiments in non-human species (e.g. song learning and production in birds) have also made important contributions to our understanding of the neural mechanisms important for music. Although music is unique to humans, some of the basic building blocks of music, including pitch and rhythm, are important to many other animal species, particularly as defining features of vocalizations.

For this research topic, we would like to further explore the relationship between music and the brain from two viewpoints—the neuroscientist and the musician. We would like to receive a broad range of topics in neuroscience and psychoacoustics covering the perception and production of music and aspects of sounds related to music (e.g. timbre, rhythm or pitch). Furthermore, we would like to solicit contributions from composers and musicians that describe how they create, practice, listen to and play music. We hope that this synthesis between the objective perspective of neuroscience experiments and subjectivity of musical experience will help broaden our understanding of the musical brain.

This research topic was motivated by The Monte Verita workshop on Music in Neuroscience held in Ascona, Switzerland March 18th–23rd, 2012 and by the Strungmann Forum on “Language, Music, and the Brain: A Mysterious Relationship” held in Frankfurt, Germany May 8th–13th, 2011.

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