Breaking News
October 21, 2018 - Report reveals growing impact of cannabis on young people
October 21, 2018 - NSF awards $5 million grant to help scientists magnify societal impact of research
October 21, 2018 - Fertility Rates Down for Each Urbanization Level 2007 to 2017
October 21, 2018 - Genetically engineered 3-D human muscle transplant in a murine model
October 21, 2018 - Moms’ tight work schedules may affect their children’s sleep
October 21, 2018 - AHA: No Direct Link Between Preeclampsia and Cognitive Impairment, Study Finds
October 21, 2018 - Weight loss success linked with active self-control regions of the brain
October 21, 2018 - Scripps researchers successfully test potential new smoking-cessation treatment in rodents
October 21, 2018 - More accurate and less stressful way to measure a baby’s heartbeat
October 21, 2018 - Researchers show better cardiorespiratory fitness leads to longer life
October 21, 2018 - Healthy candies for diabetic patients
October 21, 2018 - Environment impact of microplastics remains unclear
October 21, 2018 - Antibiotics for appendicitis? Surgery often not needed
October 21, 2018 - AHA and AMA recognize more than 800 medical practices, health systems for blood pressure control
October 21, 2018 - Scientists obtain clearest ever image of Ebola virus protein
October 21, 2018 - Study reveals connection between two proteins known to be hyperactive in cancer
October 21, 2018 - Gabapentin Beats Pregabalin for Chronic Sciatica
October 21, 2018 - Cosmetic surgeons offering incomplete information for breast augmentation customers
October 21, 2018 - Chronic sleep disruption in early adult life accelerates AD-related tau pathology
October 21, 2018 - Take 10 for Mindfulness – Drugs.com MedNews
October 21, 2018 - Length of breathing disruption in OSA may be better predictor of mortality risk
October 21, 2018 - ApoE4 gene linked with chronic inflammation increases risk for Alzheimer’s disease
October 21, 2018 - Mother-daughter conflict associated with suicide risk in abused adolescent girls
October 21, 2018 - Scientists molding bacteria into unnatural shapes
October 21, 2018 - High diet quality associated with lower risk of death in colorectal cancer patients
October 21, 2018 - Discharged mental health patients ‘at greater risk of dying’
October 21, 2018 - Research provides insight into neurobiology of aggression and bullying
October 21, 2018 - As billions in tax dollars flow to private Medicaid plans, Who’s minding the store?
October 21, 2018 - Neuroscientists identify brain region that appears to be related to food preference decisions
October 21, 2018 - Deaths related to air pollution in the U.S. decreased by 47% between 1990 and 2010
October 21, 2018 - Study shows correlation between spatial memory and the sense of smell
October 21, 2018 - Increased cardiorespiratory fitness associated with reduced long-term mortality
October 21, 2018 - IU researchers receive $1.55 million from NIH to improve chronic-disease management
October 21, 2018 - Income and wealth affect the mental health of Australians, study shows
October 21, 2018 - Patients with hypertension and psoriasis more often require cardiovascular interventions
October 20, 2018 - Leading hip-hop videos depict use of tobacco and marijuana products, study finds
October 20, 2018 - Dose Range of IV Ketamine for Adjunct Tx of Depression Tested
October 20, 2018 - Infants can distinguish between leaders and bullies, study finds
October 20, 2018 - Mad Cow disease found on Aberdeenshire farm
October 20, 2018 - Study identifies factors associated with prescription opioid misuse among students
October 20, 2018 - Scientists uncover key regulator of mTORC1 in cancer growth
October 20, 2018 - Pounds Regained After Weight-Loss Op Can Tell Your Doc a Lot
October 20, 2018 - Sending parents letters to fight childhood obesity doesn’t work
October 20, 2018 - Supervised aerobic exercise can support major depression treatment
October 20, 2018 - Mindfulness-based program effective for reducing stress in infertile women
October 20, 2018 - Molecule capable of halting and reverting neurodegeneration caused by Parkinson’s disease identified
October 20, 2018 - Midazolam-mediated alterations of PER2 expression may have functional consequences during myocardial ischemia
October 20, 2018 - Sweat bees are ideal for studying the genes underlying social behavior
October 20, 2018 - Weight loss success associated with brain areas involved in self-control
October 20, 2018 - KHN’s ‘What the Health?’ Republicans’ preexisting political problem
October 20, 2018 - Research provides a more complete picture of suffering caused by terrorist attacks
October 20, 2018 - Eradicating Helicobacter pylori infections may be a key treatment for Parkinson’s disease
October 20, 2018 - Breast Cancer as a Dynamic Disease
October 20, 2018 - University of Pittsburgh wins NSF grant for big data research to prevent complications from anesthesia
October 20, 2018 - Skin-to-skin contact may promote attachment between parents and preterm infants
October 20, 2018 - Recommendations Developed to Verify NGT Placement in Children
October 20, 2018 - Weight loss can be boosted fivefold thanks to novel mental imagery technique
October 20, 2018 - Children with autism are more likely to be overweight, obese
October 20, 2018 - Nurses making conscientious objections to ethically-relevant policies lack support
October 20, 2018 - Prion strain diversity may be greater than previously thought
October 20, 2018 - Antidepressant treatment may lead to improvements in sleep quality of patients with depression
October 20, 2018 - Study reports increased risk of death in children with inflammatory bowel disease
October 20, 2018 - Number of Autism Genes Now Tops 100
October 20, 2018 - Total diet replacement programmes are effective for treating obesity
October 20, 2018 - CLARIOstar used for fluorescence measurements on CSIRO’s purpose-built research vessel
October 20, 2018 - People with more copies of AMY1 gene digest starchy carbohydrates faster
October 20, 2018 - Case Comprehensive Cancer Center wins NIH grant to study health disparities
October 20, 2018 - Newly discovered compound shows potential for treating Parkinson’s disease
October 20, 2018 - High rate of non-adherence to hormonal therapy found among premenopausal early breast cancer patients
October 20, 2018 - Immunotherapy medicine found to be effective in treating uveitis
October 20, 2018 - The Pistoia Alliance Calls for Greater Collaboration to Realise Benefits of Innovation and Announces Winners of the 2018 President’s Startup Challenge
October 20, 2018 - Female internists consistently earn less than men
October 20, 2018 - Stanford team looks at dangers of teens’ vaping habits
October 20, 2018 - New approach to understanding cancers will accelerate development of better treatments
October 20, 2018 - LJI and UC San Diego awarded $ 4.5 million as part of NCI’s Cancer Moonshot initiative
October 20, 2018 - School-based HPV vaccination did not increase risky sexual behaviors among adolescent girls
October 20, 2018 - Eye discovery to pave way for more successful corneal transplants
October 20, 2018 - New analysis examines the importance of location in the opioid crisis
October 20, 2018 - Green filters increase reading speed for children with dyslexia
October 19, 2018 - Bariatric Sx Cuts Macrovascular Complications in Obesity, T2DM
That music playing in your head is a real conundrum for scientists

That music playing in your head is a real conundrum for scientists

image_pdfDownload PDFimage_print
That music playing in your head is a real conundrum for scientists
Credit: iStock

Researchers at EPFL can now see what happens in our brains when we hear music in our heads. The researchers hope that in time their findings will be used to help people who have lost the ability to speak.

When we listen to music, different parts of our brain process different information – such as high and low frequencies – so that our auditory perception of the sounds matches what we hear. It’s easy to study the brain activity of someone who is listening to a song, for instance, as we have the technology to record and analyze the neural responses that each sound produces as it is heard. It’s much more complicated, however, to try and understand what happens in our brain when we hear music in our heads without any auditory stimulation. As with analyzing real music, the brain’s responses have to be linked to a given sound. But when the music is in our heads, that sound doesn’t actually exist – or at least our ears don’t hear it. Using a novel approach, researchers with EPFL’s Defitech Foundation Chair in Human-Machine Interface (CNBI) were able to analyze what happens in our brains when we hum in our heads.

Recording an imaginary sound

EPFL researchers, in cooperation with a team from the University of California, Berkeley, worked with an epileptic patient who is also an experienced pianist. Initially, the patient was asked to play a piece of music on an electric piano with the sound turned on. The music and the corresponding brain activity were recorded. The patient then replayed the same piece, but this time the researchers asked him to imagine hearing the music in his head with the sound on the piano turned off. Once again, the brain activity and the music were recorded. The difference this second time around was that the music came from the mental representation made by the patient – the notes themselves were inaudible. By gathering information in these two different ways, the researchers were able to determine the brain activity produced for each sound, and then compare the data.

That music playing in your head is a real conundrum for scientists
Experimental task design. (A) The participant played an electronic piano with the sound of the digital keyboard turned on (perception condition). (B) In the second condition, the participant played the piano with the sound turned off and instead imagined the corresponding music in his mind (imagery condition). In both conditions, the sound output of keyboard was recorded in synchrony with the neural signals.  Credit: Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

The experiment may seem simple, but in fact it’s truly one of a kind. “The technique used – electrocorticography – is extremely invasive. It involves implanting electrodes quite deep inside the patient’s brain,” explains Stéphanie Martin, lead author of the study and a doctoral student with the CNBI. “The technique is normally used to treat people with epilepsy who cannot take medication.” That’s why the researchers worked with this patient in particular. The electrodes, in addition to being used for treatment purposes, can measure brain activity with a very high spatial and temporal resolution – a necessity given just how rapid neuron responses are.

Possible future language-related applications

This is the first time a study has demonstrated that when we imagine music in our heads, the auditory cortex and other parts of the brain process auditory information, such as high and low frequencies, in the same way as they do when stimulated by real sound. The findings have been published in the journal Cerebral Cortex. The researchers mapped out the parts of the brain covered by the electrodes based on their function in this process and their reactions to both audible and imaginary sounds. The scientists’ aim is to one day apply these findings to language, such as for people who have lost their ability to speak. “We are at the very early stages of this research. Language is a much more complicated system than music: linguistic information is non-universal, which means it is processed by the brain in a number of stages,” explains Martin. “This recording technique is invasive, and the technology needs to be more advanced for us to be able measure brain activity with greater accuracy.” While more research needs to be done, a first step for researchers will be to replicate these results with aphasia patients – people who have lost the ability to speak – and determine whether the sounds they imagine can be recreated. The researchers hope their findings will eventually help such individuals speak again by ‘reading’ their internal speech and reproducing it vocally.


Explore further:
Predicting when a sound will occur relies on the brain’s motor system

More information:
Stephanie Martin et al. Neural Encoding of Auditory Features during Music Perception and Imagery: Insight into the Brain of a Piano Player, Cerebral Cortex (2017). DOI: 10.1101/106617

Journal reference:
Cerebral Cortex

Provided by:
Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne

Tagged with:

About author

Related Articles