This Is Your Brain…On Music

music & arts: mind your music

This is Your Brain on Music Home

Neuroscience- music


I had the pleasure of stumbling upon this book two years ago in my local Barnes & Noble. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, but this just jumped out and said “pick me”. This book is for anyone who enjoys music, science, learning, great stories, and a pleasant change from everyday reading.


Did you ever wonder why you have a favorite song or genre?
Did you ever wonder why some music invokes a specific emotion or state of mind?
Did you ever wonder why music can elevate  your thinking and provide new perceptions?
Did you ever wonder how musicians have the ability to take us to another place?


This book reveals far too many ideas and concepts to elaborate on in a short blog post, so I will pull out what I thought would be a great sampling, as well as, a few things that are really advantageous to the marketers that frequent the blog, such as some of the emotional and associative aspects of music.

The power of music to evoke emotions is harnessed by advertising executives, filmmakers, military commanders, and mothers. Advertisers use music to make a soft drink, beer, running shoe or car, seem more hip than their competitors’. Film directors use music to tell us how to feel about scenes that otherwise might be ambiguous, or to augment our feelings at particularly dramatic moments. -Daniel Levitin


“This is Your Brain on Music” was written by Daniel Levitin, a once Berklee trained recording engineer and eventual producer, who decided he wanted to go into the field of neuroscience…so he did.  He explores new research into how music interfaces with our neurological framework in terms of our emotions, memory, and among other things, our brain’s ability to interpret anything we call music (whether you are creating or listening).


Given the significant attention devoted to the concept of  “mindshifts“, by my mentors Judy Berg and David VanAmburg, by exploring business development and how it interfaces with the entire brain, I thought that exploring a similar concept with music would be quite appropriate.

Contrary to the old, simplistic notion that art and music are processed in the right hemisphere of our brains, with language and mathematics in the left, recent findings from my laboratory and those of my colleagues are showing us that music is distributed throughout the brain. Through studies of people with brain damage, we’ve seen patients who have lost the ability to read a newspaper but can still read music, or individuals who can play the piano but lack the motor coordination to button their own sweater. Music listening, performance and composition engage nearly every area of the brain that we have so far identified, and involve nearly every neural subsystem. – Daniel Levitin


A Balanced Mind
click to enlarge

You can learn about the general functions of the brain’s hemisphere in Judy Berg’s post about Corporate Mindshift. Very basically, the right hemisphere is dedicated to creative, intuitive thought and the left is dedicated to logical and rational thought. Our prefrontal cortex provides decision-making capabilities withcastillos hinchables ethical, moral and spiritual thought. Reflecting on most musicians I know, I could probably comfortably say that they all seem to be “right-brained” people. However, Levitin’s compilation of research is saying something different…

Here is a very brief breakdown of musical variables and the parts of the brain they rely on:

Auditory: Listening (Auditory Cortices – both left and right sides)
Memory: Lyrics, Melodies, or Playing an instrument, choreography (hippocampus)
Emotion: Dynamics of a piece, positive or negative associations (cerebellar vermis and amygdala)
Tactile: Playing an instrument (sensory cortex)
Timing: Rhythm, tapping your feet or playing to one (cerebellum’s timing circuits)
Motor Skills: Playing an instrument, tapping, dancing, bobbing your head (motor cortex- in the parietal lobe)
Reading: musical notation, lyrics (visual cortex – in the occipital lobe)
Planning: playing an instrument, singing a song, conducting a group (frontal lobe)
Language: listening or recalling lyrics (Broca’s and Wernicke’s area – language centers in temporal and frontal lobes)


This overview is just scratching the surface.  The book also explores concepts of how anticipation can evoke emotions, what make’s musicians, why we have positive or negative associations with certain music, as well as, many other fascinating topics in the fields of neuroscience and music.

Nick Corsi has been a sound engineer for 7 years and continues to search for new and interesting ways to learn about and refine his craft.  Delving into how people respond to music neurologically is another tool to use when mixing different types of music for different types of crowds.

Work Hard, Take It Easy

Nick Corsi

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2 Responses to “This Is Your Brain…On Music”

  1. philraven Says:

    I like this one!!!

  2. 1disdainful Says:


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