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Music Science

Brain Scans of Rappers and Jazz Musicians Shed Light On Creativity 92

Posted by Soulskill
from the medial-prefrontal-lit-like-thrusters-on-the-shuttle dept.
ananyo writes "Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process. Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the U.S. National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine. The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The rappers showed lower activity in part of their frontal lobes called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during improvisation, and increased activity in another area, called the medial prefrontal cortex. The areas that were found to be 'deactivated' are associated with regulating other brain functions. The results echo an earlier study of jazz musicians. The findings also suggest an explanation for why new music might seem to the artist to be created of its own accord. With less involvement by the lateral prefrontal regions of the brain, the performance could seem to its creator to have 'occurred outside of conscious awareness,' the authors write in the paper." Bonus points for science rhymes; for anyone who has the time.
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Brain Scans of Rappers and Jazz Musicians Shed Light On Creativity

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  • by X0563511 (793323) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:34PM (#42007051) Homepage Journal

    Lets be fair. Flavor Flav? Yea, you know which one I'm talking about.

    Did you know he's actually a musical prodigy? He plays somewhere around 25 instruments. I mean -plays- too, not just makes noise.

    (of course that doesn't speak for them all, but you can't just consider them all morons like that)

  • by CRCulver (715279) <crculver@christopherculver.com> on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:35PM (#42007067) Homepage
    I'm sure this thread will have lots of blather about how hip hop lyrics are valid artistic expressions. I used to have the same prejudice, until I started studying epic poetry of Central Asia. Much of the Kyrgyz epic Manas, acclaimed by scholars in the West upon its discovery a century ago, is comparable to most hip hop artists: badly strung together recitations of how the hero has got lots of bling and bitches, and whoops the ass of his enemies.
  • by monk (1958) on Friday November 16, 2012 @05:56PM (#42007285) Homepage

    I'm sure this thread will have lots of blather about how hip hop lyrics are (not) valid artistic expressions.

    To support your argument that Hip Hop follows a long tradtion:

    LO, praise of the prowess of people-kings
    of spear-armed Danes, in days long sped,
    we have heard, and what honor the athelings won!
    Oft Scyld the Scefing from squadroned foes,
    from many a tribe, the mead-bench tore,
    awing the earls. Since erst he lay
    friendless, a foundling, fate repaid him:
    for he waxed under welkin, in wealth he throve,
    till before him the folk, both far and near,
    who house by the whale-path, heard his mandate,
    gave him gifts: a good king he!

    Beowulf (Prologue) [mcmaster.ca]

    or

    Yo! I know you heard of the Scyldings already
    When battle went down, the kings were deadly, swords steady
    Each one did whatever he said he
    Would do, and to grab onto more glory was ready.
    Scyld started their line, looked mighty fine
    Just a baby found a-bobbin' in a boat
    Grew great so kings gave him silver and gold

    The Beowulf Rap [blogspot.com]

Dennis Ritchie is twice as bright as Steve Jobs, and only half wrong. -- Jim Gettys

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