Breaking News
March 22, 2018 - HORIBA’s Microsemi CRP analyzer improves quality of care in emergency pediatric units, study shows
March 22, 2018 - Range of Vaginal Dryness Products Can Help Postmenopausal Women: Study
March 22, 2018 - Higher Dose Tx Deemed Safe in Pulmonary TB
March 22, 2018 - Diet soda associated with higher odds of diabetic retinopathy
March 22, 2018 - LSD reduces ‘sense of self’
March 22, 2018 - Vitamin D deficiency linked to metabolic syndrome in postmenopausal women
March 22, 2018 - Changes in the intestines may be responsible for reversal of diabetes after bariatric surgery
March 22, 2018 - iPads and Cancer; Clot Retrieval and Stroke: It’s PodMed Double T!
March 22, 2018 - Premature births linked to changes in mother’s bacteria
March 22, 2018 - Brain SPECT scans predict treatment outcomes in patients with depression
March 21, 2018 - Researchers succeed in integrating artificial organelles into cells of living organism
March 21, 2018 - Researchers discover ‘missing mutation’ in severe infant epilepsy
March 21, 2018 - Researchers develop statistics-based computational scheme to zoom in on brain function
March 21, 2018 - Verge joins Genomics England’s Discovery Forum industry partnership
March 21, 2018 - Trovagene Announces First Patient Successfully Completes Cycle 1 of Treatment with PCM-075 in Combination with Low Dose Cytarabine (LDAC) in AML Trial
March 21, 2018 - Congenital Cardiac Cath Tx Often Strays from Guidelines
March 21, 2018 - Marked increase in cardiovascular risk factors in women after preeclampsia
March 21, 2018 - New app may help predict, track manic and depressive episodes in bipolar patients
March 21, 2018 - Discovery of genes could lead to development of novel therapies for EBV-related cancers
March 21, 2018 - High-fat, high-cholesterol diet depletes ranks of artery-protecting immune cells
March 21, 2018 - Research misconduct allegations shadow likely CDC appointee
March 21, 2018 - Most Breast Ca Patients Fail to Get Genetic Counseling
March 21, 2018 - Lopsided ear function can lead to lopsided brain development
March 21, 2018 - Acupuncture helps manage menopausal symptoms, review finds
March 21, 2018 - Motor skill training may contribute to reading skills in obese children
March 21, 2018 - Poor dental health may be related to increased diabetes risk
March 21, 2018 - Chronic opioid users at increased risk of complications after spinal fusion surgery
March 21, 2018 - Study uncovers potential therapeutic target against large family of parasites
March 21, 2018 - NSAID use linked to increased risk of atrial fibrillation
March 21, 2018 - Scientists develop brain “stethoscope” that can detect silent seizures
March 21, 2018 - New method predicts effects of global warming on disease
March 21, 2018 - Insurance Company Hurdles Burden Doctors, May Harm Patients
March 21, 2018 - Renal Transplant from HCV-Positive Donors Feasible
March 21, 2018 - Myelodysplastic syndrome: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
March 21, 2018 - Research reveals brain mechanism involved in language learning
March 21, 2018 - Many parents still hesitate to try early peanut introduction, survey finds
March 21, 2018 - Audiologist urges tinnitus sufferers facing ‘revolving door healthcare’ to seek support
March 21, 2018 - Study reveals impact of prostate cancer on wives and partners of sufferers
March 21, 2018 - ‘Almost a Miracle Drug’: What We Heard This Week
March 21, 2018 - Study shows NIH spent >$100 billion on basic science for new medicines
March 21, 2018 - Columbia researchers identify nerve cells that drive fruit fly’s escape behavior
March 21, 2018 - Sartorius Stedim Biotech selected by ABL Europe to supply single-use process technologies
March 21, 2018 - Increase in coffee consumption may help battle against colon cancer
March 21, 2018 - Hydrogel may accelerate healing of diabetic ulcers
March 21, 2018 - Dermira’s Two Phase 3 Trials Evaluating Olumacostat Glasaretil in Patients with Acne Vulgaris Did Not Meet Co-Primary Endpoints
March 21, 2018 - DePuy Synthes introduces ACTIS Total Hip System for improving initial implant stability
March 21, 2018 - ‘Oh, It Was Nothing’
March 21, 2018 - Herbal drug kratom linked to salmonella illnesses, CDC says
March 21, 2018 - New optical point-of-care device could enhance screening for thyroid nodules
March 21, 2018 - FDA Expands Approval of Adcetris (brentuximab vedotin) for First-Line Treatment of Stage III or IV Classical Hodgkin Lymphoma in Combination with Chemotherapy
March 21, 2018 - Eosinophilic Esophagitis: Late Manifestation of Allergic March
March 21, 2018 - Signaling pathway involving the Golgi apparatus identified in cells with Huntington’s disease
March 21, 2018 - Quintupling inhaled steroid doses may not benefit children with asthma
March 21, 2018 - Study shows clear connection between cardiovascular fitness in middle age and dementia risk
March 21, 2018 - Premature babies have higher risks of health complications in Bangladesh
March 21, 2018 - Child’s temperament and parenting influence weight gain in babies
March 21, 2018 - Researchers find the heart to be capable of arrhythmia termination after local gene therapy
March 21, 2018 - Inhealthcare to provide digital infrastructure for NHS to help protect people from falls
March 21, 2018 - Flu Season Finally Slowing Down
March 21, 2018 - Mixed Results for Shorter DAPT in ACS Patients
March 21, 2018 - Scientists discover fish scale-derived collagen effective for healing wounds
March 21, 2018 - Genomics England announces new partnership to improve efficiency of next-generation sequencing analysis
March 21, 2018 - Adjuvant AC chemotherapy found to be effective in treating HRD-positive breast cancer patients
March 21, 2018 - Researchers identify new treatment targets for lung diseases using big data
March 21, 2018 - Kids see more women in science than five decades ago
March 21, 2018 - Research shows link between chronic fatigue syndrome and lower thyroid hormone levels
March 21, 2018 - Alzheimer’s disease on the rise
March 21, 2018 - Two Agents Equal as Pretreatment for Adrenal Tumor Surgery
March 21, 2018 - ‘Icebreaker’ protein opens genome for T cell development, researchers find
March 21, 2018 - Women in medicine shout #Metoo about sexual harassment at work
March 21, 2018 - Mother’s pre-pregnancy waist size may be linked to child’s autism risk
March 21, 2018 - Second hand marijuana smoke can cause serious damage
March 21, 2018 - International study shows benefits of using MRI at the start of prostate cancer diagnosis
March 20, 2018 - Santhera Reports Outcome of Exploratory Trial with Idebenone in PPMS Conducted at the NIH
March 20, 2018 - ECG Patch Ups At-Home Afib Diagnosis in mSToPS Trial
March 20, 2018 - ROS-scavenging nanozymes for anti-inflammation therapeutics
March 20, 2018 - Genomics England announces appointment of global genomics pioneer as first CEO
March 20, 2018 - Test flight at German Aerospace Center in Cologne demonstrates functionality of deficopter
March 20, 2018 - Music therapy helps treat combat-related psychological injuries in military personnel
March 20, 2018 - Innovative psychotherapeutic treatment protocol for obsessive-compulsive disorders
The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
When the scientists asked the pianists to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, the jazz pianists’ brains started to replan the actions faster than those of the classical pianists. This was measured by EEG (electroencephalography) sensors on the back of the head, which detected the brain signals in the related brain regions responsible for action planning. Credit: MPI CBS

Keith Jarret, world-famous jazz pianist, once answered in an interview when asked if he would ever be interested in doing a concert where he would play both jazz and classical music: “No, that’s hilarious. […] It’s like a chosen practically impossible thing […] It’s [because of] the circuitry. Your system demands different circuitry for either of those two things.” Where non-specialists tend to think that it should not be too challenging for a professional musician to switch between styles of music, such as jazz and classical, it is actually not as easy as one would assume, even for people with decades of experience.

Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences (MPI CBS) in Leipzig demonstrated that there could be a neuroscientific explanation for this phenomenon: They observed that while playing the piano, different processes occur in jazz and classical pianists’ brains, even when performing the same piece.

“The reason could be due to the different demands these two styles pose on the musicians—be it to skilfully interpret a classical piece or to creatively improvise in jazz. Thereby, different procedures may have established in their brains while playing the piano which makes switching between the styles more difficult”, says Daniela Sammler, neuroscientist at MPI CBS and leader of the current study about the different brain activities in jazz and classical pianists.

One crucial distinction between the two groups of musicians is the way in which they plan movements while playing the piano. Regardless of the style, pianists, in principle, first have to know what they are going to play—meaning the keys they have to press—and, subsequently, how to play—meaning the fingers they should use. It is the weighting of both planning steps, which is influenced by the genre of the music.

Miles Davis is not Mozart: The brains of jazz and classical pianists work differently
In the study all pianists got to see a hand on a screen which played a sequence of chords on a piano scattered with mistakes in harmonies and fingering. The professional pianists had to imitate this hand and react accordingly to the irregularities while their brain signals were registered with EEG sensors on the head. Credit: MPI CBS

According to this, classical pianists focus their playing on the second step, the “How”. For them it is about playing pieces perfectly regarding their technique and adding personal expression. Therefore, the choice of fingering is crucial. Jazz pianists, on the other hand, concentrate on the “What”. They are always prepared to improvise and adapt their playing to create unexpected harmonies.

“Indeed, in the jazz pianists we found neural evidence for this flexibility in planning harmonies when playing the piano”, states Roberta Bianco, first author of the study. “When we asked them to play a harmonically unexpected chord within a standard chord progression, their brains started to replan the actions faster than classical pianists. Accordingly, they were better able to react and continue their performance.” Interestingly, the classical pianists performed better than the others when it came to following unusual fingering. In these cases their brains showed stronger awareness of the fingering, and consequently they made fewer errors while imitating the chord sequence.

The scientists investigated these relations in 30 professional pianists; half of them were specialized in jazz for at least two years, the other half were classically trained. All pianists got to see a hand on a screen which played a sequence of chords on a piano scattered with mistakes in harmonies and fingering. The professional pianists had to imitate this hand and react accordingly to the irregularities while their brain signals were registered with EEG (Electroencephalography) sensors on the head. To ensure that there were no other disturbing signals, for instance acoustic sound, the whole experiment was carried out in silence using a muted piano.

“Through this study, we unravelled how precisely the brain adapts to the demands of our surrounding environment”, says Sammler. It also makes clear that it is not sufficient to just focus on one genre of music if we want to fully understand what happens in the brain when we perform music—as it was done so far by just investigating Western classical music. “To obtain a bigger picture, we have to search for the smallest common denominator of several genres”, Sammler explains. “Similar to research in language: To recognise the universal mechanisms of processing language we also cannot limit our research to German.”

Explore further:
The brain concentrates on the objective

More information:
R. Bianco et al, Musical genre-dependent behavioural and EEG signatures of action planning. A comparison between classical and jazz pianists, NeuroImage (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2017.12.058

Journal reference:

Provided by:
Max Planck Society

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles