Your Brain On Improv


What happens in the brain during musical improv? Researcher Charles Limb scanned the brains of jazz musicians to find out.

About Charles Limb

Dr. Charles Limb is an Associate Professor in the Johns Hopkins Department of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery, as well as faculty at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music. He’s a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations. In his free time, he plays sax, piano and bass.

In search of a better understanding of how the mind processes complex auditory stimuli such as music, Dr. Limb has been working with Dr. Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved when a musician is really in the groove.

Weekly Round Up

The brain has an inbuilt sense of justice

In this week’s round-up of the latest discoveries in the field of neuroscience,  New Scientist is asking the question of why we remember some dreams but not others? And Live Science takes a look at the top 10 mysteries of the mind, while a new study from the Karolinska Institute and Stockholm School of Economics shows that the brain has a built-in sense of justice.

The Telegraph reports on how brain scans reveal the power of art while researchers in Oslo and Sweden revealed that musicians’ brains are highly developed in a way that makes the musicians alert, interested in learning, disposed to see the whole picture, calm, and playful. The same traits have previously been found among world-class athletes, top-level managers, and individuals who practice transcendental meditation.

How does fear alter memory? A new study reveals that it can literally change our perception, a process that may help researchers better understand post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), other anxiety disorders and possibly conditions like autism. Dr Melanie Greenberg has also been looking at PTSD and the complexity of its mind-body effects and how our brains process trauma.