Friday, October 23, 2009

Your brain on music (2) - Are musicians born, or made?

A year after they are born, children recognize and prefer music they were exposed to in the womb.

Even just a small exposure to music lessons as a child creates neural circuits for music processing that are enhanced and more efficient than for those who lack training.

In several studies, the very best conservatory students were found to have practiced the most. In another study, students were secretly classified into 2 groups based on teachers’ perception of their talent. Several years later, the students who achieved the highest performance ratings were those who had practiced the most, irrespective of which “talent” group they had been assigned to previously.

From numerous studies, the emerging picture is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything.

The strength of a memory is related to how many times the original stimulus has been experienced. Memory strength is also a function of how much we care about the experience, and we tend to code as important things that carry with them a lot of emotion.

If I really like a piece of music, I am going to want to practice it more, I am going to attach neuro-chemical tags to each piece of memory that label it as important, I am more likely to pay attention to subtle differences. Dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with emotional regulation, alertness, and mood, is released, and the dopaminergic system aids in the encoding of the memory trace.

Successful people actually have had many more failures than unsuccessful people. Because successful people have a stick-to-it-iveness. They don’t quit.

The best guess that scientists currently have about the role of genes and the environment in complex cognitive behaviours is that each is responsible for about 50 percent of the story.

{The young lady was playing in the Piazza Navona in Rome}

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