The Neural Origins of Music Creativity

Recent neuroimaging studies show that individual differences in various traits ranging from perceptual and cognitive skills to personality features can be predicted to some degree from the structure of the brain. Musicianship entails a combination of years of intensive practice of specific auditory, motor and cognitive skills, as well as perhaps innate musical capability. How this combination of intensive training and innate skills is reflected in the structure and function of the brains of musicians is something that has intrigued cognitive neuroscientists, giving rise to a substantial amount of work in the field of cognitive neuroscience of music.

In the Musician's Brain, Sometimes Less is More

Conventional wisdom says that in order to become very good at a demanding task such as playing a musical instrument, you have to start young. Indeed, several neuroimaging studies have reported that training-related changes in brain structure are most pronounced in musicians who have started early. However, is it the age at which you start learning this skill that matters, or only the fact that if you start practicing young, you spend more years practicing? Is there an optimum age when a child should start practicing an instrument to attain the biggest benefits?

Music and Emotion

Most of us also listen to music in order to experience emotions. The specific mechanisms through which music evokes emotions is a rich field of research, with a great number of unanswered questions. Why does sound talk to our emotional brain? Why do we perceive emotional information in musical features? Why do we feel the urge to move when hearing music?