Music Listening

Sync Session Interview: Benjamin Gold

Ben Gold is a graduate student researcher at the International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research, working in Dr Robert Zatorre's Lab. Ben is interested in how music can become so important and rewarding to so many people, and his is currently studying on the dopaminergic effects of music listening. We asked him what how the technology like the Sync Project could help him lead future research into the effects of music and the brain.

Your Brain Synchronizes to Music

Recently, a paper reported three studies where it was shown that neural oscillations of subjects started to follow the rhythm of the music the subjects were listening to. This means that groups of neurons in their brains could “catch” the beat of the music, and synchronize their firing to it. This syncing of oscillations to external cues is called neural entrainment

Music Enhances Social Skills

How do shared music experiences influence social behavior? Could music be used as a method for increasing the quality of interaction, help individuals understand each other’s feelings and share a heightened sense of connectedness? In recent years, studies showing positive effects of music on social behavior have began accumulating.

Music Listening is Effective for Treatment of Sleep Disorders

Sleep is highly important for health in terms of recovery and is essential for learning and forming memories. Chronic sleep deprivation has been shown to decrease several important cognitive abilities such as creative and flexible thinking, planning, and effective communication. It is also connected to a wide range of health problems including severe medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and depression. Sleep medication may provide easy relief but interest in non-medical ways to support sleep quality is growing. Recent evidence from research shows that music holds great promise in treatment of sleep disorders.

Sync Session Interview: Dr Joyce Chen

Dr. Joyce L Chen is an Assistant Professor, Department of Physical Therapy, University of Toronto and Scientist at the Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery, Sunnybrook Research Institute. Dr. Chen's research aims to understand how the brain recovers motor functions after a stroke, and to develop novel interventions that facilitate recovery. 

Dr. Chen is also interested in the use of noninvasive brain stimulation and auditory feedback such as music to improve motor function. In particular, her group is interested in how the brain changes as a function of an intervention, which will give insight into mechanisms of brain plasticity. Dr Chen has also investigated music-making activities and studying the effects of music listening in improvement of motor re-learning and rehabilitation exercises.

During our Sync Session earlier this year at McGill University, we discussed how a mobile platform such as the Sync Project may accelerate research in her lab by allowing researchers like her to test the response of music on larger samples under ecologically valid settings.

Why Do We Listen to Music?

Musical preference changes with age. Mature listeners are often baffled by the musical choices of younger people - what is inspiring and uplifting to one is a terrible cacophony to another. Similarly, teenagers rarely “get” the tunes their parents find enjoyable. Music listening is a powerful way to support well-being, irrespective of age. We investigate recent research that suggests that younger and older people listen to music for different reasons and experience benefits to well-being through different mechanisms.