source url: http://dana.org/dabi/transcripts/gm_0398.html
Music and the Brain
The following is a complete transcript of the radio program: Gray Matters:
Music and the Brain. For more information on the Gray Matters scripts audio products, the Exploring Your Brain video products, and transcripts or for both call 1-800-65-Brain.
(Public Radio International - Audio Logo)
Announcer: THE FOLLOWING PROGRAM WAS PRODUCED IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE DANA ALLIANCE FOR BRAIN INITIATIVES.
(Instrumental intro/"Anyone Can Whistle" in and under)
(In/Patinkin sings: "Anyone Can Whistle, that's what they say, easy...)
IT IS EASY TO ENJOY MUSIC, WHETHER YOU PERFORM IT, OR LISTEN TO IT, OR EVEN DELIGHT IN IT BY WHISTLING.
I'M MANDY PATINKIN.
(up: "It's all so simple...")
IT WOULD NOT BE SO SIMPLE TO IMAGINE THE VOID IN OUR LIVES IF MUSIC SOMEHOW VANISHED. THE EMPTINESS, I THINK, WOULD BE INTOLERABLE; THE SILENCE SUFFOCATING. AS THE PHILOSOPHER FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE PUT IT, MUSIC IS "SOMETHING, FOR THE SAKE OF WHICH, IT IS WORTHWHILE TO LIVE ON EARTH."
OVER THE NEXT HOUR, YOU'LL BE HEARING SOME STORIES ABOUT THE CONNECTION BETWEEN SCIENCE AND MUSIC AND THE MIND. IT'S A RELATIVELY NEW AREA OF RESEARCH...AND IT HAS SCIENTISTS LOOKING INSIDE THE BRAIN TO SEE HOW A SYMPHONY OR SONG CAN SHAPE US AND MOVE US AND EVEN HELP DEFINE US AS HUMAN BEINGS.
(Up computer music)
YOU'LL HEAR HOW THIS MUSICAL RENDITION OF WHAT THE BRAIN SOUNDS LIKE INSPIRED A SCIENTIST TO ASK WHETHER STUDYING MUSIC CAN MAKE YOU SMARTER.
(Lose computer music under following copy block)
WE'LL TALK ABOUT HOW MUSIC CAN TRIGGER FEELINGS, FROM JOY TO SADNESS TO SHIVERS...AND YOU'LL MEET ONE MAN WHOSE EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO MUSIC INCREASED DRAMATICALLY FOLLOWING A BRAIN ANEURYSM:
Tape: "Have you ever looked at something that you thought was so overwhelmingly beautiful that you turn away from it? I'm sure you have. Well that's what happens."
AND YOU'LL MEET ONE WOMAN WHO SUFFERS FROM A FORM OF MENTAL RETARDATION, A CONDITION CALLED WILLIAMS SYNDROME. BUT JUST LISTEN TO HER SING, AND THE VERY NATURE OF INTELLIGENCE IS BROUGHT INTO QUESTION:
I'M MANDY PATINKIN, AND YOU'RE LISTENING TO A SPECIAL EDITION OF GRAY MATTERS: MUSIC AND THE BRAIN.
(Music out - end of open)
(Begin Chopin piano solo)
WHEN THE IRISH WRITER, OSCAR WILDE, SAT DOWN AT THE PIANO WITH CHOPIN, SOMETHING HAPPENED TO HIS MIND.
"AFTER PLAYING CHOPIN" -- WILDE SAID -- "I FEEL AS IF I HAD BEEN WEEPING OVER SINS THAT I HAD NEVER COMMITTED, AND MOURNING OVER TRAGEDIES THAT WERE NOT MY OWN. MUSIC ALWAYS SEEMS TO ME TO PRODUCE THAT EFFECT."
(crossfade Chopin underneath above copy, have it come up for a bit here...and then it ends)
OSCAR WILDE UNDERSTOOD SOMETHING THAT ALL OF US WHO PERFORM OR LISTEN TO MUSIC UNDERSTAND...THAT MUSIC CAN TOUCH US...THAT MUSIC ROUSES UP FEELINGS. ONE OF THE MOST DIFFICULT YET FASCINATING AND LEAST UNDERSTOOD AREAS OF MUSIC AND BRAIN RESEARCH CENTERS ON THE EMOTIONS.
ROBERT RAND PREPARED THIS REPORT.
(Hit open to "For Crying Out Loud", fade under after vocal begins)
A ROCK GROUP CALLED "MEATLOAF" WOULD SEEM TO BE AN UNLIKELY RESEARCH TOOL FOR A SERIOUS NEUROSCIENTIST. BUT JAAK PANKSEPP, PROFESSOR OF PSYCHOBIOLOGY AT BOWLING GREEN STATE UNIVERSITY IN OHIO, IS A SERIOUS NEUROSCIENTIST. AND HE'S ONE OF A HANDFUL OF RESEARCHERS TRYING TO FIGURE OUT HOW MUSIC INTERACTS WITH THE BRAIN TO MODIFY MOODS AND EMOTIONS. PANKSEPP SAYS NOBODY YET HAS IDENTIFIED THE SPECIFIC BRAIN MECHANISMS THAT TRANSLATE MUSIC INTO EMOTIONS. BUT HE SAYS THAT "MEATLOAF -- OR AT LEAST ONE OF THEIR SONGS HAS TOLD HIM SOMETHING QUITE INTERESTING:
Panksepp: ...when you come to about the fifth minute and he starts ripping and he starts wailing about lost love, at that point, you'll have piles of chills."
(Crossfade so chill point posts at end of following copy block)
(Up chill section of song, then fade under)
YOU PROBABLY KNOW WHAT PANKSEPP IS TALKING ABOUT, BECAUSE AT SOME POINT IN YOUR LIFE, WHILE LISTENING TO MUSIC, YOU'VE PROBABLY EXPERIENCED MUSICAL CHILLS. PANKSEPP SAYS THEY'RE A SHIVERY, GOOSEFLESH TYPE OF SENSATION.
Panksepp: "One very common area that people have the experience is the back of the neck, spreading out across the arms. Some people have it on just certain parts of the body, other people all over the body. Women seem to have it more than men."
(Fade out song under following copy)
PANKSEPP HAS STUDIED HOW THIS SONG...AND OTHERS...HAVE GENERATED CHILLS IN HUNDREDS OF LISTENERS. HE SAYS NO SINGLE PIECE OF MUSIC IS GUARANTEED TO PRODUCE CHILLS, BECAUSE THE LISTENER'S PERSONAL EXPERIENCE iS AN IMPORTANT VARIABLE. PEOPLE TEND TO HAVE CHILLS TO THE MUSIC THEY KNOW AND LOVE. BUT WITH THE RIGHT MIX OF INGREDIENTS, A GIVEN PIECE OF MUSIC IS MORE LIKELY THAN NOT TO SEND SHIVERS DOWN THE SPINE:
Panksepp: "One essential component is establishing a background mood. In other words, if you don't have a background mood-- and it probably has to be a sad, bittersweet, loss of love type of mood, the chill is unlikely to elaborate."
(Hit the composition "Fratres")
PANKSEPP SAYS THIS COMPOSITION, BY THE ESTONIAN COMPOSER ARVO PART ILLUSTRATES THE POINT. THE PIECE BEGINS SLOWLY, SPARSELY, AND SETS A SAD, MELANCHOLY STAGE.
PANKSEPP HAS FOUND THAT AMONG LISTENERS HE HAS TESTED, THE CHILLS OCCUR WHEN THE MUSIC SUDDENLY SHIFTS, AND A SINGLE VOICE, ...LIKE A LONELY, ANGUISHED CRY IN THE WILDERNESS... EMERGES FROM THE BACKGROUND.
(Post music @ chill moment..up for a while, then under and fade)
PANKSEPP SAYS NO ONE HAS DECIPHERED THE NEUROLOGICAL CAUSE OF CHILLS. BUT HE SPECULATES THAT IT MAY HAVE SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE NEUROCHEMICALS THE BRAIN RELEASES WHEN CONFRONTING A MOST BASIC HUMAN EXPERIENCE:
Panksepp: "the most primitive sound is the sound of a child that is lost or distressed, a child that cries. This has to have a powerful, powerful emotional response on the nervous system of the caretaker and we think that this primitive process is the one that might be captivated by those moving passages of music that produce chills."
CHILLS ARE A NORMAL EMOTIONAL RESPONSE WHEN HUMAN BEINGS LISTEN TO MUSIC. BUT WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMETHING GOES WRONG WITH THE BRAIN? HOW DO BRAIN INJURIES AFFECT OUR ABILITY TO FEEL THE MUSIC WE'RE LISTENING TO?
NEUROSCIENTISTS ARE BEGINNING TO FIND OUT, BY STUDYING PATIENTS WHO HAVE SUFFERED SOME FORM OF BRAIN TRAUMA, LIKE AN ACCIDENT OR STROKE.
(Up Hello Dolly)
SHEPHERD COLEMAN HAS MADE A CAREER IN MUSIC. HE WAS A CONDUCTOR AND MUSICAL DIRECTOR FOR "HELLO DOLLY," AND FOR MANY, MANY OTHER BROADWAY SHOWS, LIKE "BYE-BYE BIRDIE" AND "GOLDEN BOY." TRAINED AS A CELLIST, COLEMAN ALSO PLAYED FOR THE NEW YORK PHILHARMONIC. NOW AT THE AGE OF 75, HE TEACHES MUSIC AT A SMALL COMMUNITY COLLEGE IN NEW YORK.
MARK TRAMO IS A NEUROLOGIST AND BRAIN SCIENTIST AT HARVARD MEDICAL SCHOOL AND MASSACHUSTETTS GENERAL HOSTPITAL. WHEN TRAMO MET SHEPHERD COLEMAN...ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO...THE SETTING WAS A HOSPITAL, NOT A BROADWAY STAGE OR CONCERT HALL.
Tramo: "Mr. Coleman suffered a rupture of an artery that lies on the surface of the front of the brain. And when this artery burst through a weakening in its walls -- a so-called aneurysm -- a large amount of blood spilled out and resulted almost immediately in coma. He that day had to undergo life-saving brain surgery."
SHEPARD COLEMAN SURVIVED THE SURGERY, ALTHOUGH PART OF HIS BRAIN WAS DAMAGED BY ALL OF THE BLEEDING. WITHIN A FEW WEEKS, HE WAS ALERT, HE COULD TALK, AND HE COULD WALK. AND EVENTUALLY, AFTER HE LEFT THE HOSPITAL, HE COULD RETURN TO HIS PROFESSION. BUT COLEMAN SAYS THAT AFTER HIS BRAIN SURGERY, THERE WAS A DRAMATIC DIFFERENCE IN THE WAY HE REACTED WHILE LISTENING TO MUSIC.
Coleman: "I hear more. My awareness is heightened. The intensity of my reaction is heightened. It's like a microscope. You fine tune that knob and suddenly things are in relief, they stand out and you recognize them and you hear them and you can identify them."
Tramo: "When he would play a piece of music that previously he would find emotional, after the brain damage he was unable to control those emotions and would break out into tears, for example, at a moving part of the piece."
SHEPARD COLEMAN SAYS THAT IT'S CLASSICAL MUSIC THAT PUSHES HIS EMOTIONS EVERY WHICH WAY. MAHLER DOES IT TO HIM. SO DO TCHAIKOVSKY AND WAGNER, AND THEN THERE'S:
Coleman: "Madame Butterfly of Puccini"
(Up music of Suzuki/Butterfly)
COLEMAN SAYS THERE'S ONE PART OF THE OPERA WHERE MADAMME BUTTERFLY SINGS A DUET WITH HER HANDMAIDEN, SUZUKI, THAT'S SIMPLY TOO MUCH TO BEAR."
Coleman: "...the duet they sing is of such intensity that I can't even listen to it. I'm discomforted by it. I mean it's painful."
(Duet music up and under)
Coleman: "Have you ever looked at something that you thought was so overwhelmingly beautiful that you turn away from it? I'm sure you have..Well that's what happens."
SHEPARD COLEMAN SAY THAT HE CRIES MORE NOW, WHEN HE LISTENS TO MUSIC, AND HE TENDS TO LISTEN TO MUSIC NOW IN PRIVATE, WITH THE VOLUME WAY UP, WHERE HE FEELS FREE, AS HE PUTS IT, TO BE CARRIED AWAY. AND, DESPITE THE ORDEAL OF HIS BRAIN SURGERY SOME TEN YEARS AGO, COLEMAN IS PLEASED WITH THE MAN HE HAS BECOME. FOR HE IS A MUSICIAN, AND HE RELATES NOW TO MUSIC IN A NEW AND VIBRANT MANNER.
Coleman: "I wouldn't have it any other way. I wish I could do it again. I'd love to increase it again by the same increment. Yes. If the question is would I rather go back to the way it was before, the answer is an unqualified no."
DR. MARK TRAMO SAYS SURVIVORS OF ANEURYSMS OR STROKES OFTEN LOSE SOME COGNITIVE OR EMOTIONAL FUNCTION. BUT WITH SHEPHERD COLEMAN, BRAIN DAMAGE APPEARS TO HAVE ENHANCED A NORMALLY EXPERIENCED EMOTION. TRAMO SAYS THAT'S COUNTERINTUITIVE TO TRADITIONAL MODELS OF HOW THE BRAIN WORKS. IN ADDITION, TRAMO SAYS COLEMAN'S EXPERIENCE SHOWS THAT THE PERCEPTION OF MUSIC...AND THE EMOTIONAL REPSONSE...ARE CONTROLLED BY DIFFERENT BRAIN SYSTEMS...
Tramo: "So that on the one hand it's one thing to feel an emotion. But on the other hand it's another to control it in an appropriate context that's associated with the sensory experience, and in this case music."
NEUROSCIENTISTS KNOW, GENERALLY, THAT THE EMOTIONAL FUNCTION OF THE BRAIN IS ASSOCIATED WITH SOMETHING CALLED THE 'LIMBIC SYSTEM,' A COLLECTION OF STRUCTURES THAT LIE DEEP BENEATH THE CORTEX, THE BRAIN'S OUTER SURFACE. EXPERIMENTS ON ANIMALS HAVE SHOWN THAT IF PARTS OF THE LIMBIC SYSTEM ARE STIMULATED, AN ANIMAL CAN BE MOVED TO RAGE OR TO TERROR. BUT EMOTIONS ARE EXTRAORDINARILY COMPLEX, AND OTHER AREAS OF THE BRAIN ARE IMPLICATED AS WELL. JAAK PENKSAPP, THE PSYCHOBIOLOGIST WHO STUDIES CHILLS, SAYS THE FRONTAL LOBES -- A SECTION OF THE CORTEX THAT SITS BEHIND THE FOREHEAD, IS ALSO IMPORTANT IN GENERATING EMOTIONS.
Panksepp: "We get a powerful arousal of the frontal lobes, really the frontal lobes are what make us human. That is the part of the brain that allows us to have foresight, to have concern for other people, empathy."
RESEARCHERS DO NOT KNOW YET WHETHER THE BRAIN CONTAINS SPECIFIC CIRCUITS OR SPECIFIC CHEMISTRIES THAT, WHEN TOUCHED BY THE SOUND OF MUSIC, COME ALIVE IN A WAY TO MAKE US FEEL EMOTIONAL. BUT SCIENTISTS ARE USING A VARIETY OF IMAGING TECHNIQUES --- LIKE MRI'S AND EEG'S -- TO LOOK INSIDE THE BRAIN TO SEE HOW IT LISTENS TO MUSIC.
Panksepp: "The picture that seems to be emerging is that different parts of the brain respond to different aspects of music. So pitch, timbre, harmony, there are imaging studies that each of those three variables is mediated by different parts of the brain."
PANKSEPP SAYS STUDIES OF BRAIN WAVE ACTIVITY SHOW THAT WHEN PEOPLE LISTEN TO MUSIC, THE WAVE PATTERNS BECOME MUCH MORE SYNCHRONIZED WITH EACH OTHER. AND HE WONDERED HOW EMOTIONS MIGHT FIT IN HERE...HOW DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSIC -- MUSIC GENERALLY CONSIDERED TO BE HAPPY OR SAD -- MIGHT AFFECT THESE WAVE PATTERNS. PANKSEPP SAYS HE FOUND.
Panksepp: "Happy music tends to produce a more relaxed brain, whereas sad music tends to produce a more aroused brain. It makes a lot of evolutionary sense that when we're sad we have many more things to think about and solve, so the aroused pattern that we see is harmonious with that perspective."
(Sneak up Iver's CD under following copy, and post)
Ivers: "Now that's a little happy tune."
EILEEN IVERS IS ONE OF THE COUNTRY'S BEST IRISH FIDDLE PLAYERS. SHE'S CURRENTLY THE LEAD VIOLINIST WITH "RIVERDANCE," THE PHENOMENALLY SUCCESSFUL PRODUCTION HONORING IRISH STEP DANCING.
(Up sound of Eileen tuning fiddle)
Bharucha: "Eileen, I wonder if you could play a tune in two very different ways, two very different ways that elicit very different feelings."
Ivers: "Okay, I think playing a tune (fade under) two different ways, there's a type of music..."
RECENTLY, IVERS VISITED THE RECORDING STUDIOS AT CARNEGIE HALL TO SIT DOWN WITH ANOTHER VIOLIN PLAYER, JAMSHED BHARUCHA. BHARUCHA IS NOT A PROFESSIONAL MUSICIAN, ALTHOUGH HE DOES PLAY IN A CHAMBER GROUP. HE WORKS INSTEAD AS A COGNITIVE PSYCHOLOGIST AT DARTMOUTH, WHERE HE'S EDITOR OF A SCHOLARLY JOURNAL CALLED "MUSIC PERCEPTION."
(Hit Ivers playing fast reel)
BHARUCHA MET WITH EILEEN IVERS TO TALK ABOUT, AND TO ILLUSTRATE, WHAT A MUSICIAN DOES TO EVOKE EMOTIONS IN A LISTENER. IT IS A COMPLICATED PROCESS, BHARUCHA SAYS, IN WHICH MUCH DEPENDS NOT ONLY ON THE MUSICIAN'S SKILLS, BUT ON THE CULTURAL ENVIRONMENT AND PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF THE LISTENER. BUT THERE ARE PROBABLY SOME UNIVERSAL CHARACTERISTICS IN MUSIC THAT EVOKE FEELINGS. BHARUCHA SAYS THEY INVOLVED MOVEMENT -- TEMPO, RHYTHM AND TIMING - - AND CAN TRIGGER EMOTIONS LIKE SERENITY...OR AGGRESSIVENESS.
Bharucha: "They stem in all likelihood from human physiology, and from human speech where when you're agitated your movements are more rapid, your heart is pumping more, your voices tends to have a greater pitch range, dynamic range, and the onset of your voice whenever you're articulating is more rapid. And so music can pick up on these very physiological cues to provide some cues that are likely to be universal in conveying emotion."
BHARUCHA SAYS THE MOST IMPORTANT COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCING EMOTIONS IN MUSIC INVOLVES THE VIOLATION OF EXPECTATIONS. LISTENERS LIKE MUSIC THAT'S EXPECTED...AND FAMILIAR. BUT LISTENERS ALSO ENJOY SURPRISES...MUSIC THAT'S NOVEL...MUSIC THAT VIOLATES EXPECTATIONS.
Bharucha: "I wonder if, Eileen, you could play a tune and then start violating expectations by playing some wrong notes and you might start off by doing it in a subtle way, then make them a bit more obvious."
Ivers: "Sure. But only here Jamshed, nowhere else. I'll just take a basic reel, a tune I love to play for years called Star of Munster. It's a classic traditional fiddle tune, and apologies to everybody out there, it could get a little funny. I'll just play it once, and then I'll start to pick wrong notes out and maybe get a little bit out there."
(She plays...where wrong notes start, begin to fade under and out)
Bharucha: "One of the points that Eileen has so skillfully demonstrated here is that even people who don't have formal musical training can immediately recognize when some of the familiar patterns have been violated."
OF COURSE, TOO MUCH FAMILIARITY CAN BE BORING. AND MUSIC THAT'S TOO UNPREDICTABLE CAN SOUND DISCONCERTING. BHARUCHA SAYS PEOPLE TEND TO LIKE A LITTLE BIT OF BOTH.
(Up some nice music)
AND....PEOPLE TEND TO LIKE THE MUSICAL SOUNDS OF THE CULTURE IN WHICH THEY WERE RAISED. SO THE SOUNDS OF A MUSICAL SCALE IN DUBLIN MAY SOUND DISTASTEFUL AND DISSONANT TO A LISTENER IN ZIMBABWE OR BRAZIL. BHARUCHA SAYS A PERSON IN ONE MUSICAL ENVIRONMENT IS ACTUALLY LIKELY TO HAVE A DIFFERENT SET OF BRAIN CONNECTIONS -- A DIFFERENT NEURAL INTERNALIZATION OF CULTURE THAN SOMEBODY IN ANOTHER ENVIRONMENT.
Bharucha: "The brain is the repository of our culture. It's in the brain that our cultural experience and our cultural convention are encoded so that when we listen to music we listen to music through cultural lenses, if you like, and the cultural lens is the way the brain is wired as result of experience in that culture."
(Hit a nice Ivers tune hot)
WHATEVER YOUR CULTURE, IT'S PLAIN THAT THE MUSIC YOU LISTEN TO WILL RESONATE INSIDE YOUR HEAD... AND TRIGGER SENTATIONS OF JOY AND SADNESS, SERENITY OR CHILLLS. IT'S A DEFINING HUMAN EXPERIENCE. AND EXPERIENCE THAT SCIENCE IS ONLY BEGINNING TO UNDERSTAND. EVENTUALLY, RESEACHERS HOPE TO FIND OUT EXACTLY HOW THE BRAIN WRESTS EMOTIONS FROM A TUNE OR A SYMPHONY OF SONG. MEANTIME, THEY AND EVERYONE ELSE...CAN FEEL CONTENT THAT THE SEARCH WILL BE MOSTLY PLEASURABLE, CARRIED OUT IN THE VAST, WONDROUS LABORATORY CALLED MUSIC.
THIS IS ROBERT RAND REPORTING.
(Music up and out)
AFTER WORLD WAR II, WHEN VETERANS' HOSPITALS NOTICED THAT MUSIC COULD SOOTHE THEIR SHELLSHOCKED PATIENTS, A NEW HEALTH PROFESSION WAS BORN: MUSIC THERAPY. TODAY, MUSIC THERAPISTS WORK WITH A VARIETY OF PATIENTS, INCLUDING AUTISTIC CHILDREN AND PEOPLE WITH PARKINSON'S DISEASE. MUSIC IS ALSO USED WITH ALZHEIMER'S PATIENTS AND OTHERS SUFFERING FROM BRAIN DAMAGE OR DETERIORATION.
WHILE THERAPISTS REPORT SOME ASTONISHING RESULTS...SCIENTISTS CAUTION THAT NO ONE KNOWS FOR SURE WHAT MUSIC IS DOING FOR THESE PATIENTS.
ANN COOPER HAS THIS REPORT.
IN THE 1990 FILM "AWAKENINGS," ROBIN WILLIAMS PLAYS A DOCTOR DETERMINED TO BRING HIS NURSING HOME PATIENTS OUT OF THEIR CATATONIC STATE. HE PROBES FOR ANY SIGNS OF AWARENESS: CAN THEY CATCH A BALL TOSSED TO THEM? CAN THEY CONCENTRATE ON TV? CAN THEY RESPOND TO MUSIC?
Film clip: "This is one of the most beautiful arias ever written. Watch them closely for any reactions." (Music starts just after this: hold it up in clear a few seconds, then fade down under narration, keep it running under narration.)
IN THE MOVIE, THE DOCTOR FINDS A DRUG AND SOME THERAPIES THAT HELP. MUSIC IS ONE OF THEM. PUT THE RIGHT RECORD ON THE PHONOGRAPH, IT SEEMS, AND MENTAL FOGS LIFT -- BRIEFLY, BUT LONG ENOUGH TO EAT A MEAL, OR PLAY A HAND OF CARDS. THE MOVIE "AWAKENINGS" WAS BASED ON A BOOK, WRITTEN BY OLIVER SACKS, A NEUROLOGIST WHOSE REAL LIFE PATIENTS LIVED IN A NEW YORK HOSPITAL CALLED BETH ABRAHAM.
IT'S LOCATED IN A SHABBY NEIGHBORHOOD OF THE BRONX. AND EVEN BEFORE OLIVER SACKS ARRIVED THERE IN THE 1960S, BETH ABRAHAM WAS PIONEERING MUSIC THERAPY.
(Guitarist says: "Let's all sing together now, okay. This little light of mine..." Fade down under narration)
A RAGGED BUT ENTHUSIASTIC CHORUS OF BETH ABRAHAM PATIENTS FOLLOWS THE CUES OF JOHN MARINO, ONE OF THE HOSPITAL'S MUSIC THERAPISTS. MOST OF THE DOZEN OR SO PATIENTS HERE ARE ELDERLY WOMEN. BUT THERE ARE OTHERS AS WELL, INCLUDING A TALL YOUNG MAN IN HIS EARLY 20S. ALL OF THESE PATIENTS SHARE A COMMON AFFLICTION: DEMENTIA. STROKES OR ACCIDENTS HAVE DAMAGED THEIR BRAINS, ROBBING THEM OF MEMORIES AND SOMETIMES BASIC SKILLS, LIKE THE ABILITY TO TALK, OR WALK, OR FEED THEMSELVES. BUT DURING THE SINGALONG, EVERYONE SEEMS ALERT AND FOCUSED ON THE MUSIC THOUGH NOT ALWAYS IN PERFECT PITCH.
(Music comes up in clear again)
Tomaino: "The first thing I see is an emotional response: I see a smile, or a grimace, or a change in their eyes."
CONNIE TOMAINO IS THE DIRECTOR OF BETH ABRAHAM'S MUSIC THERAPY DEPARTMENT. AS MUCH AS ANYONE, TOMAINO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR BETH ABRAHAM'S BELIEF THAT MUSIC - - FAR FROM BEING JUST CHEERFUL ENTERTAINMENT FOR PATIENTS -- CAN TRIGGER MEMORIES TRAPPED IN UNREACHABLE PARTS OF A DEMENTIA PATIENT'S BRAIN.
Tomaino: "In hearing the melody again, it will bring back part of their life. And if the melody is played enough then there's a way of helping them retrieve or reacknowledge some of those memories, or bringing it back so they feel connected to what's going on around them. That's probably what happens to Alzheimer's people when they respond to music."
TWICE A WEEK, TOMAINO WORKS WITH ANOTHER, MORE DIFFICULT GROUP: FOUR ELDERLY LONG-TERM PATIENTS WHO HAVE ADVANCED DEMENTIA. THEY ARE ANTI-SOCIAL, SPENDING LISTLESS DAYS IN THEIR HOSPITAL ROOMS AND SHUNNING ALL ACTIVITIES -- EXCEPT THE MUSIC SESSIONS.
"Isabel! I have the drum over here if you'd like to play it again? What? I had the drum if you'd like to play it (keep above dialogue in the clear, then fade down under narration)
THESE PATIENTS ARE PART OF A STUDY TOMAINO IS WORKING ON, TESTING WHETHER MUSIC CAN COAX THEM BACK INTO CONTACT WITH THE WORLD, AND ESPECIALLY WITH OTHER PEOPLE.
(Tomaino playing accordion and singing: "It's good to see you Robert. It's good to see you on a Tuesday afternoon .... (Keep about :10 in the clear, then fade down under narration)
TOMAINO SERENADES EACH OF THE PATIENTS. THEY'RE SEATED IN WHEELCHAIRS, MOTIONLESS AND BARELY RESPONDING AS THE MUSIC THERAPIST BENDS DOWN TO GREET THEM. BUT OVER THE NEXT HOUR, AS TOMAINO PUMPS OUT OLD STANDARDS AND SPECIAL REQUESTS FROM HER ACCORDION, HER TINY AUDEINCE SLOWLY BEGINS TO ANIMATE.
(Crossfade with Bolero ambience)
SHE PLAYS "BOLERO," AND THE DARK EYES OF AURORA, AN IMMIGRANT FROM ECUADOR, SUDDENLY SHINE WITH BRIGHT RECOGNITION. SADIE, THE RUSSIAN WOMAN, HAS NO REQUESTS, SHE DOZES MUCH OF THE TIME. BUT EVEN WHEN HER EYES ARE SHUT, SHE KEEPS BEATING TIME ON HER DRUM.
(Connie: asks Robert what he wants to hear ... keep this dialogue up in the clear through her saying "let me call you sweetheart," then leave a few notes of the music up in the clear before fading down under narration.)
THIS NUMBER BRINGS ROBERT BRIEFLY TO LIFE. HE WAVES HIS HANDS IN TIME TO THE MUSIC. BUT SMILES AND DRUM BEATING AND LIPS FORMING SILENT WORDS ARE THE MOST TOMAINO CAN COAX FROM THESE FOUR PATIENTS. THIS GROUP ONLY BEGAN MEETING A FEW WEEKS AGO, SHE SAYS. THAT'S PROBABLY NOT LONG ENOUGH TO EXPECT THE KIND OF DRAMATIC RESPONSES THAT CONNIE TOMAINO AND OTHER MUSIC THERAPISTS HAVE SOMETIMES RECORDED.
Tomaino: "So you'll see a Parkinson's person who really can't get out of the wheelchair, all of a sudden bound out of the chair and walk across the room if the right music's playing."
TOMAINO SAYS EVEN SMALL CHANGES CAN BE MAJOR VICTORIES FOR ELDERLY PATIENTS.
Tomaino: "What I have seen is people who couldn't feed themselves. They'll recognize that there's a plate of food in front of them and have the attention span to actually look at the food long enough to realize it's there and make sense of what it is. I've also had a man who couldn't remember his wife's name. She said' if there's anything I want, it's for him to call me by my name, and that happened."
TOMAINO CAN'T SAY PRECISELY HOW MUCH MUSIC AFFECTED THE BRAINS OF THESE PATIENTS. THAT'S ONE REASON WHY MANY HEALTH INSURERS DON'T COVER THE COSTS OF MUSIC THERAPY.
Arezzo: "We all know that music makes you feel betler, it can relax you, it can make a pleasant experience, emotional, trigger some memories. And it may be that's all it does."
JOSPEH AREZZO IS VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE DEPARTMENT OF NEUROSCIENCE AT THE ALBERT EINSTEIN COLLEGE OF MEDICINE. IT'S NOT FAR FROM BETH ABRAHAM IN THE BRONX. AREZZO SAYS MEDICAL SCHOOLS HAVE BEEN SLOW TO CONSIDER THERAPIES FROM OUTSIDE THE MAINSTREAM, LIKE MUSIC. WHILE MORE THAN 70 COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES OFFER DEGREES IN MUSIC THERAPY, AND SOME 5,000 THERAPISTS HAVE BEEN CERTIFIED IN THE UNITED STATES, AREZZO SAYS MUSIC IS STILL CONSIDERED AN ALTERNATIVE THERAPY. THAT MEANS ANY BENEFITS IT MAY BRING MUST BE SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN BEFORE IT CAN EARN THE FULL RESPECT OF THE MEDICAL ESTABLISHMENT. STILL, AREZZO SAYS THE ANECDOTES AND ENTHUSIASM OF MUSIC THERAPISTS ARE INTRIGUING, AND SCIENCE MAY SOMEDAY SHOW THAT MUSIC HELPS RESTRUCTURE OR REORGANIZE THE BRAIN TO RECOVER LOST SKILLS.
Arezzo: "For instance, there's extremely strong data now suggesting that music, the repetitive beat of music, can help synchronize walking, synchronize movement. So in some Parkinson's patients and patients recovering from stroke. the beat of a background musical piece clearly helps them walk better, helps them time their movements."
LESS CLEAR, SAYS AREZZO, IS MUSIC'S SIGNIFICANCE IN TREATING PATIENTS WITH MEMORY LOSS OR LANGUAGE DYSFUNCTION. THAT DOESN'T MEAN A LINKAGE WON'T BE FOUND, SAYS AREZO, BUT IT WILL TAKE SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH, NOT JUST ANECDOTES, TO PROVE IT.
I'M ANN COOPER REPORTING.
Sadie: (leave up in the clear her exchange with Sadie and beginning of the music, then fade down and out to black) I'M MANDY PATINKIN, AND YOU'RE LISTENING TO A SPECIAL ONE-HOUR EDITION OF "GRAY MATTERS: MUSIC AND THE BRAIN -- FROM PRI, PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL...
WHEN MOZART WAS 14, HE WROTE OUT THE ENTIRE SCORE TO AN IMPOSING CHORAL WORK, ALLEGRI'S "MISERERE," AFTER HEARING ONLY A SINGLE PERFORMANCE.
ASIDE FROM BEING AN IMPRESSIVE FEAT OF MEMORY, FOR CENTURIES, THIS EVENT HAS PROMPTED PEOPLE TO WONDER WHETHER THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS ARE PHYSICALLY DIFFERENT FROM THOSE OF NON-MUSICIANS. TODAY RESEARCHERS ARE BEGINNING TO GATHER A FEW CLUES TO HELP ANSWER THAT QUESTION. THEIR RESULTS SUGGEST THAT TO SOME EXTENT, THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS DO LOOK DIFFERENT. THIS IS PARTICULARLY TRUE WHEN IT COMES TO ABSOLUTE PITCH -- THE ABILITY TO IDENTIFY A NOTE WITHOUT REFERENCE TO ANY OTHER NOTE.
JON GREENBERG HAS OUR REPORT.
I GREW UP LISTENING TO MY UNCLE, LOUIS SHUB, PLAY THE PIANO. FOR YEARS, HE HAS REFERRED TO HIMSELF AS YOUR FAVORITE UNCLE WITH ABSOLUTE PITCH. HE IS SAFE ON BOTH POINTS. HE IS MY ONLY UNCLE. AND WHATEVER THE SOURCE OF A SOUND, IF A TONE IS PURE ENOUGH, LOU CAN NAME IT. HALF-FILLED WINE GLASSES TAPPED WITH A SPOON, CAR HORNS ... AND DOOR BELLS.
(Door bell chime/dog barks/ Lou: "that's G. Jon. Let's go to the paino and check it out." Piano note: g)
YOU'LL HAVE TO TAKE MY WORD FOR IT, THE PIANO KEY WAS G. LOU IS 85 YEARS OLD AND HE BEGAN HIS TRAINING AS A CONCERT PIANIST WHEN HE WAS ELEVEN.
Lou: I studied music for half year before I learned each tone had a different color if you will.
THE ABILITY OF SOME PEOPLE TO HAVE SUCH A PECULIAR SENSATION OF NOTES IS WHAT FIRST INTRIGUED GOTTFRIED SCHLAUG, A NEUROLOGIST AT BETH ISRAEL DEACONESS HOSPITAL IN BOSTON. SCHLAUG HAS SPENT MOST OF THIS DECADE MAPPING THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS AND NON-MUSICIANS. HIS RESEARCH HAS ZEROED IN ON A PARTICULAR STRUCTURE IN THE BRAIN AS THE LOCATION OF ABSOLUTE PITCH.
USING MAGNETIC RESONANCE IMAGING, OR MRI, SCHLAUG WATCHED THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS AND NON-MUSICIANS AS THEY LISTENED TO A SERIES OF TONES, LIKE THIS
Schlaug: "Their task was to compare each new tone to the tone two tones ago. They would compare the tones and indicate same or different."
SCHLAUG ALSO PLAYED ANOTHER TAPE FOR HIS SUBJECTS, NOT OF TONES, BUT OF THE SIMPLEST FORMS OF SPEECH.
Schlaug: "They would listen to phonemes .. BA, PA, TA, GA, KA, phonmese are the elemental parts of our language."
THE SUBJECTS DIDN'T NEED TO DO ANYTHING WHEN THEY HEARD THOSE SOUNDS, THEY JUST HAD TO LISTEN. BUT THEIR BRAINS RESPONDED AND SCHLAUG WAS WATCHING FOR WHICH LITTLE FOLD OF GREY MATTER WAS ACTIVATED. THE STRUCTURE THAT LIT UP, SO TO SPEAK, WAS THE PLANUN TEMPORALE, A SQUIGGLY PANCAKE OF TISSUE THAT STARTS IN THE CENTER OF THE BRAIN AND FANS OUT. SCHLAUG SAW THAT THE PLANUN TEMPORALE WAS SIGNIFICANTLY LARGER IN MUSICIANS WITH ABSOLUTE PITCH. AND WHEN HE COMPARED HOW HIS SUBJECTS USED THIS PART OF THEIR BRAIN WHEN THEY HEARD THE SIMPLE PHONEMES, HE FOUND SOMETHING ELSE.
Schlaug: "Absolute pitch musicians showed promiment activation of the planun temporale when they do the tone and phoneme task, while the non- absolute pitch only show activation of p-t when they proces phonemes but not tones."
Everyone uses the planum temporale to decypher language. Schlaug's study strongly suggests that people with absolute pitch use the same equipment. even if it's a bit larger to decypher musical notes. Schlaug also believes, although he admits he can't prove it yet, that the reason this part of the brain is bigger is that these people learned their notes at the same time that they were rapidly building their vocabulary, that is when they were just four to six years old. Schlaug goes so far as to say that everyone has a fifty-fifty chance of acquiring absolute pitch if they study music when they are very young. In a different test, Schlaug found another difference between the brains of musicians and non-musicians, but again, learning music at an early age was a critical factor. For keyboard and string players who started before they turned eight Schlaug found that the pathway beween the left and right sides of their brains was as much as 15% larger.
To Schlaug, the explanation is obvious; it's a question of coordination While the pianist's right hand plays this part of a Beethoven sonata.
(Right hand. Music. fade way under and hold)
THE LEFT HAND IN PLAYING THIS
(Left hand music started simultaneously as right track, but only now faded up.)
DIFFERENT SIDES OF THE BRAIN CONTROL EACH HAND. THE TWO SIDES MUST TALK TO EACH OTHER TO KEEP EVERYTHING IN SYNCH.
Mix together left and right tracks (probably reducing pronounced stereo split at the same time) fade and hold under Schlaug.
Schlaug: "The time that it takes to transfer information back and forth, to coordinate movements of left and right hand, to make corrections. This time is critical and it is very critical if you are performing very complicated fast movements of individual fingers that you transfer this information very fast and efficient."
(Fade down and lose music.)
SCHLAUG'S WORK HAS TAKEN US DEEPER IN THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS, BUT HOW MUCH DO THESE STRUCTURAL DIFFERENCES HELP US UNDERSTAND BEETHOVEN'S GENIUS OR THE SKILL AND ARTISTIC POWER OF A CONCERT VIOLINIST.
Marin: "what's really wrong is to try to divide the brain into a fixed mosaic."
OSCAR MARIN IS THE FORMER CHIEF OF NEUROLOGY AT GOOD SAMARITAN HOSPITAL IN PORTLAND, OREGON. BEFORE HE BECAME A NEUROLOGIST, HE WAS A PROFESSOR OF MUSIC HISTORY IN CHILE. HIS RESEARCH HAS FOCUSSED NOT ON HOW PEOPLE RESPOND TO INDIVIDUAL NOTES, BUT ON HOW THEY RESPOND TO CHORDS AND HARMONY.
MARIN BELIEVES OUR BRAINS ARE GREAT DEVICES FOR SORTING MUSICAL NOTES INTO LITTLE ORGANIZED PACKETS. FOR HIM, SPECIFIC STRUCTURES MATTER LESS THAN THE WAY DIFFERENT PARTS OF THE BRAIN SHARE INFORMATION TO CREATE INSIDE OUR HEADS A MODEL OF THE MUSIC WE HEAR.
Marin: "My mother was a concert pianist and she had the most incredible sight reading. She was able to transfer the visual reading into a perceptual acoustic internal representation of the music and from there into motor, into the fingers, that was really amazing. This is a skill. This is something that can be perfected, but really, you have to be born with that."
AND WHAT MARIN SAYS IS -- HE THINKS TALENTED MUSICIANS MAY BE BORN WITH A LARGER NUMBER OF LINKS BETWEEN BRAIN STRUCTURES THAT WE ALL SHARE. ALTHOUGH HE DOUBTS THAT THESE LINKS CAN BE SEEN. MARIN THINKS OF THEM AS BIOCHEMICAL PATHWAYS.
OUR KNOWLEDGE OF THE BRAIN IS MORE DETAILED NOW THAN IT EVER HAS BEEN. IT SEEMS LIKELY THAT INDEED, THE BRAINS OF MUSICIANS ARE SPECIAL. BUT IN WHAT WAY AND HOW THOSE DIFFERENCES SHAPE HOW MUSICIANS CREATE AND EXPERIENCE MUSIC, THAT UNDERSTANDING IS STILL A LONG WAY OFF.
THIS IS JON GREENBERG.
(Music up and under)
AND THIS IS THE MUSIC OF THE GERMAN COMPOSER ROBERT SCHUMANN. THE PIECE IS CALLED "DAVIDSBUNDLERTANZE AND SCHUMANN WROTE THAT ITS STRAINS CAPTURED THE CONTRASTING SIDES OF HIS TEMPERAMENT...THE JOYS AND SORROWS THAT WRESTLED WITHIN HIM THROUGHOUT HIS LIFE.
SCHUMANN IS ONE OF MANY COMPOSERS WHO'S THOUGHT TO HAVE SUFFERED FROM MANIC DEPRESSION: A MOOD DISORDER THAT INCLUDES THE SOARING HIGHS OF MANIA AS WELL AS THE DESPAIR OF DEPRESSIVE ILLNESS. THERE'S A LONG LIST OF ARTISTS BELIEVED TO HAVE HAD THIS DISORDER: THE COMPOSERS HANDEL, MAHLER, RACHMANINOFF, AND TCHAIKOVSKY. THE PAINTER VINCENT VAN GOGH. THE WRITERS ERNEST HEMINGWAY, HERMAN MELVILLE, AND VIRGINIA WOOLF.
MANIC-DEPRESSION AND ITS IMPACT ON CREATIVITY HAS BEEN THE FOCUS OF DR. KAY JAMISON'S WORK. SHE'S A PROFESSOR OF PSYCHIATRY AT THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE AND AUTHOR OF "TOUCHED WITH FIRE: MANIC DEPRESSIVE ILLNESS AND THE ARTISTIC TEMPERAMENT." JAMISON SAYS THERE'S A SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MANIC DEPRESSION AND REGULAR DEPRESSION.
KJ: Manic depression is a genetic illness, it, it runs in families and it's characterized by extreme fluctuations and changes in, in not only mood, but also energy states and perturbances, agitation, when people are manic they get very disturbed, they can get very paranoid, they can hallucinate, they can be delusional in milder forms. There are delusions and, and hallucinations. But people have extreme variations in terms of sleep patterns. They don't sleep very much at all when they're manic. They sleep an awful lot when they're depressed. And regular depression, or clinical depression, people have the same, very often the same features of depression but they just don't have the manias associated with it.
MP: But they also have great highs, right?
KJ: Well, people with manic depressive illness do. I mean not everybody who gets manic has extreme highs. I mean maybe 50 percent of people who get manic don't ever get euphoric, for example. They don't get ecstatic, they just get irritable and paranoid.
MP: And in terms of being creative is this something that doctors or artists who, who suffer this, or doctors who've analyzed this, feel that it serves the creative process or inhibits the creative process in any way?
KJ: Well, I think one of the things that's most complicated is it does, it probably does both. I mean it should be said that obviously most people who are very creative don't have manic depression. And most people who have manic depression aren't particularly creative. It's rather that if you look at a collection of very, very highly creative people you see a way disproportionate rate of manic depression.
MP: Now let's take Robert Schumann as an example. What led you to the link between Schumann and his manic depression?
KJ: Well, again it's certainly not original to me. I think many people have looked at Robert Schumann and thought he had manic depression including doctors in his own time. He was someone who had a lot of manic depression in his own family. He had suicide in his own family. He himself spent the last two and a half years of his life in an insane asylum after having attempted suicide. And then what you see with Schumann is what's not uncharacteristic at all in untreated illness, which of course in the 19th century there was no treatment for manic depression. The tendency of the illness is to get worse over time if it isn't treated. And that's exactly what happened to Schumann.
MP: But in the 1840s was there any treatment whatsoever given to these people other than incarceration?
KJ: Well, hospitalization was actually not a bad treatment. Ah, you know, it, it was often the only treatment that was available. Sometimes later in the century there were opiates and chlorohydrate and various drugs that could be used to sedate people up to a point.
MP: What are some of the breakthroughs in treating manic depression today?
KJ: Well, there are a lot of things. Actually it's, if, if you're going to have manic depressive illness it's a good time to have it in the sense that there's a lot of research, I think that we know a lot more about the brain than we used to. And it used to be that lithium was the only drug that was available. And it's actually a very good drug and it's particularly good at preventing suicide which is a major problem in people who have manic depression or depression. But there are now a wide variety of drugs that were initially used in epilepsy. Drugs like depacote, tegritol, lomictol. There are a wide, there are six, seven, eight anti-convulsive medications now that are used in manic... in manic depression.
MP: Do you feel that artists who... poets, writers, musicians, actors that get treated for these illnesses, that they lose some edge that makes their work unique or their genius or their spark.
KJ: Well, I think, I mean I think a couple of things. I think if you actually look, there are a couple of studies that have actually asked artists and writers whether they feel that they have, are as productive or less productive on medication for moods than they were before. And actually three quarters of artists and writers say that they feel that they are as productive or more productive on medication than they were before they started taking medication. And that's because most of these artists and writers are spending a lot of their lives on psychiatric wards or being morbidly depressed in which case nobody's very productive.
MP: What about that quarter, you said three-quarters feel that they do well. What about the quarter that feels they don't do well. Do they feel that their work has suffered because of the treatment?
KJ: They feel like their work has suffered, and they feel like the side effects or the effect on their creativity. But I think what's important is that people, you know, if they have a concern about their moods, if they have a concern about depression is that they check it out. And they find out, they read a lot about it, they get a lot of information. They go badger doctors, they go ask as many questions as they can. Ask what all the different treatments are, and figure out a treatment course that makes sense for them. I think in this day and age there's no reason why creativity does have to suffer.
MP: I agree with you and I've seen it in many, many friends. This has been extraordinary talking to you. Dr. Kay Jamison is a professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She's the author of "Touched With Fire: Manic Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament." Dr. Jamison, thank you.
KJ: Thank you.
THIS NEXT STORY IS FOR PARENTS WHO ARE TIRED OF STRUGGLING TO GET THEIR CHILDREN TO PRACTICE THE PIANO. IT TURNS OUT THAT ALL OF THOSE HOURS YOUR KIDS SPEND FINE-TUNING THEIR SCALES MAY ACTUALLY, LITERALLY, FINE TUNE THEIR MINDS. ELLEN BIKALES HAS THIS REPORT.
Eric Wright: "Okay, look up here. We're going to play that little game one more time. We're going to listen to Mr. Mozart play some music, (fade here) something he composed long time ago. When you hear it become loud, what are you going to do? Stand? Yes!"
AT THE 95TH STREET SCHOOL IN SOUTH CENTRAL LOS ANGELES, A SECOND GRADE CLASS SITS CROSS-LEGGED ON A RUG, ARMS RAISED AS IF THEY WERE AT A KEYBOARD, PREPARED TO WIGGLE THEIR FINGERS WHEN THE MUSIC STARTS.
FOR FOUR MONTHS THIS YEAR, RESEARCHERS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT IRVINE WILL TEACH THESE CHILDREN TO PLAY PIANO. THEN THEY WILL GIVE THE STUDENTS AN IQ TEST. THEY HOPE TO SHOW THAT CHILDREN WHO HAVE STUDIED PIANO SCORE HIGH IN SKILLS RELATED TO MATH AND SCIENCE ABILITIES.
(Mozart up briefly, then cross fades to brain music)
THESE STUDIES WERE INSPIRED BY THIS -- A SCIENTIST'S MUSICAL MODEL OF WHAT THE BRAIN MAY SOUND LIKE WHEN ITS CELLS FIRE UP.
DR. GORDON SHAW IS A PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF PHYSICS AT UC-IRVINE. WHEN HE HEARD THIS BRAIN MUSIC, DR. SHAW BEGAN TO WONDER, IF THE BRAIN IS THIS GOOD A MUSICIAN NATURALLY, WHAT CAN IT DO WITH SOME TRAINING? MUSIC TRAINING, HE SPECULATED, STRENGTHENS THE INHERENT STRUCTURE OF THE BRAIN, GETTING IT IN SHAPE FOR OTHER COMPLEX COGNITIVE TASKS.
Shaw: "We have this common internal neural language that we're born with and so if you can exploit that with the right stimuli then you're going to help the brain develop to do the things like reason."
(Mozart - Piano sonata in D major)
THE FORM OF REASON DR. SHAW INVESTIGATES IS SPATIAL-TEMPORAL. IT IS THE ABILITY TO ANTICIPATE HOW OBJECTS WILL FIT TOGETHER IN SPACE, OVER TIME. CHILDREN USE SPATIAL-TEMPORAL REASONING FOR COMPLETING PUZZLES. AS WE GET OLDER IT ENABLES US TO SOLVE HIGHER MATH PROBLEMS, OR TO THINK SEVERAL MOVES AHEAD WHILE PLAYING CHESS.
NEUROSCIENTISTS CAN MEASURE THE ACTIVITY OF THE LIVING BRAIN USING A TECHNOLOGY KNOWN AS EEG. THE RESULTS SHOW THAT SPATIAL TEMPORAL REASONING TASKS ACTIVATE LARGE AREAS OF THE BRAIN. SO DOES PLAYING MUSIC, OR LISTENING TO WORKS BY COMPOSERS WITH THE COMPLEXITY AND SYMMETRY OF MOZART. DR. SHAW AND A TEAM OF RESEARCHERS ARE WORKING TO DEMONSTRATE THAT MUSIC AND SPATIAL TEMPORAL REASONING ACTIVATE THE SAME NEURAL PATHWAYS.
DR. FRANCES RAUSCHER IS AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF COGNITIVE DEVELOPMENT AT THE UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN AT OSH KOSH. SINCE HER DAYS AT UC-IRVINE WHERE SHE WORKED WITH GORDON SHAW, SHE HAS STUDIED THE REASONING ABILITIES OF PRE-SCHOOL CHILDREN AND KINDERGARTENERS. SHE HAS EVIDENCE THAT EARLY MUSIC TRAINING MAY IN FACT SHAPE THE DEVELOPING BRAIN. SHE IS STUDYING RATS TO EXPLORE HOW THIS HAPPENS.
Rauscher: "We exposed these animals in utero and then sixty days after birth to different types of auditory stimulation and then we ran them in a spatial maze. And sure enough, the animals that were exposed to the Mozart completed the maze faster and with fewer errors. And now what we're doing is we're removing their brains so we can slice them and see neuro-anatomically precisely what has changed as a function of this exposure. So it may be that this intense exposure to the music is a type of enrichment that has similar effects on the spatial areas of the hippocampus of the brain."
THE HIPPOCAMPUS IS A TINY SEA HORSE-SHAPED STRUCTURE DEEP WITHIN THE BRAIN.
EXPERTS IN THE FIELD OF CHILD DEVELOPMENT HAVE NOT EMBRACED THE NOTION THAT MUSIC TRAINING MAKES KIDS SMARTER. CRITICS SAY ANY CONCLUSION WOULD BE PREMATURE AT THIS POINT - THE DATA RELEASED TO DATE DON'T CONVINCE THEM THAT PIANO LESSONS DO ANY MORE FOR CHILDREN THAN BUILD MUSICALITY, MOTOR SKILLS AND DISCIPLINE.
DR. GORDON SHAW ACKNOWLEDGES THAT HIS FINDINGS ARE PRELIMINARY. HE SAYS IT WILL TAKE FIVE YEARS TO SHOW WHAT HE BELIEVES TO BE THE CASE, THAT THERE IS A SOLID LINK BETWEEN EARLY MUSIC TRAINING AND BETTER MATH AND SCIENCE SCORES.
Shaw: "We think that music training is really doing something very special. The improvements have to be exploited in how you teach certain things in school. It doesn't mean that you do away with the standard stuff but this is just a supplement."
AT THE 95TH STREET SCHOOL, THE SECOND GRADERS WEAR HEADPHONES AS THEY THUMP AWAY ON ELECTRONIC KEYBOARDS, OBLIVIOUS TO ANYTHING BUT THEIR OWN PLAYING.
THE POSSIBILITY THAT MUSIC COULD ELEVATE MATH AND SCIENCE SCORES HAS CAUGHT THE ATTENTION OF PUBLIC POLICYMAKERS. GOVERNOR ZELL MILLER OF GEORGIA WANTED TO BE SURE THAT NEWBORNS IN HIS STATE DIDN'T MISS OUT: HE RECENTLY ASKED THE GEORGIA LEGISLATURE TO BUY EACH OF THEM A CASSETTE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC.
IN DR. FRANCES RAUSCHER'S STATE, WISCONSIN, A FEW SCHOOLS HAVE RESPONDED BY WORKING MUSIC LESSONS INTO THE PUBLIC SCHOOL CURRICULUM EARLIER, IN KINDERGARTEN. DR. RAUSCHER SAYS THIS WILL HELP DISADVANTAGED CHILDREN HAVE THE SAME OPPORTUNITIES THAT MIDDLE INCOME CHILDREN DO.
Rauscher: "Disadvantaged children have been shown to be the most deficit in spatial and abstract reasoning. These children also wouldn't normally be able to receive music lessons simply because their parents generally don't have the money, they don't have the time and they often don't know that this is something that's important."
SO WHAT IS A PARENT TO MAKE OF THE RESEARCH SUGGESTING THAT MUSIC LESSONS MIGHT MAKE YOUR KIDS SMARTER? DR. RAUSCHER SAYS THAT WHILE SCIENTISTS SORT OUT THE MATTER, PARENTS HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE BY ENGAGING THEIR CHILDREN IN MUSIC: LISTEN WITH YOUR INFANT TO COMPOSITIONS WITH THE COMPLEXITY OF MOZART...AND MOVE YOUR BABY'S ARMS AND LEGS IN TIME TO IT. WHEN THEY'RE OLDER, GET THEM AN INSTRUMENT TO PLAY WITH AND, IF YOU CAN, ENROLL THEM IN MUSIC LESSONS. IN ANY CASE, AS RAUSCHER'S COLLEAGUE DR. GORDON SHAW SAYS, THE BEAUTY OF ALL THIS FOR PARENTS AND CHILDREN IS THAT THERE ARE ONLY GOOD SIDE EFFECTS.
THIS IS ELLEN BIKALES REPORTING.
(Music button: brain music)
WHAT DO WE MEAN WHEN WE USE THE TERM "INTELLIGENCE"...? THE MORE WE KNOW ABOUT THE BRAIN -- AND ITS INFINITELY COMPLEX FUNCTIONS -- THE MORE THE TERM "INTELLIGENCE" SEEMS IMPRECISE. THERE ARE MULTIPLE "INTELLIGENCES."
SIMILARLY, BRAIN SCIENTISTS HAVE COME TO VIEW THE LABEL "MENTALLY RETARDED" AS INEXACT. CONSIDER A RARE CONDITION CALLED WILLIAMS SYNDROME -- WHERE INDIVIDUALS WITH LOW IQ'S SHOW AN UNUSUAL AFFINITY FOR SOUND AND MUSIC. THIS CONDITION DEMONSTRATES HOW THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF OUR ABILITIES CAN EXTEND BEYOND OUR EXISTING MEANS OF MEASUREMENT...
MARY BETH KIRCHNER HAS THIS REPORT.REVELATIONS IN SCIENCE OFTEN COME IN UNPREDICTABLE WAYS -- AT UNEXPECTED MOMENTS... FOR DR. URSULA BELLUGI, A COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENTIST AT THE SALK INSTITUTE IN LA JOLLA, CALIFORNIA ONE SUCH TURNING POINT CAME IN A LATE-NIGHT PHONE CALL ALMOST FIFTEEN YEARS AGO. IT WOULD DRAMATICALLY CHANGE THE COURSE OF HER WORK... Bellugi: "I was working in my lab late one evening when somebody called me, a woman called me and I answered the phone, and she said Noam Chomsky told me to call you -- so I didn't hang up the phone. And it turned out, she said my daughter is retarded and may have something interesting for you because she has good language." BELLUGI FOLLOWED UP ON THE REFERRAL FROM CHOMSKY, THE NOTED LINGUIST AND MET THE GIRL. SHE LATER NAMED HER "CRYSTAL" BECAUSE SHE WAS SORT OF A "CRYSTAL BALL" THROUGH WHICH TO STUDY A FASCINATING CONDITION CALLED WILLIAMS SYNDROME. IT'S ONLY BEEN ABOUT FORTY YEARS SINCE WILLIAMS WAS FIRST DESCRIBED. THE PROFILE IS AN UNUSUAL ONE -- WHERE CHILDREN HAVE REMARKABLY FLUENT LANGUAGE -- BUT HAVE GREAT DIFFICULTY WITH SPATIAL TASKS LIKE DRAWING AND BLOCK DESIGN -- STRIKING ABILITIES IN RECOGNZING FACES -- BUT DIFFICULTY WITH PROBLEM SOLVING. THE AVERAGE IQ IS ABOUT 50. ONE OF THE UNEXPECTED CHARACTERISTICS OF WILLIAMS, WHICH BELLUGI FOUND EARLY ON WITH CRYSTAL -- WAS A SENSITIVITY TO SOUND AND MUSIC. Bellugi: "I think one of the things that surprised me is that the mother told me she made up songs by herself. And in fact the songs were quite beautiful and haunting. I played them for some of my musician friends -- but then I put that notion away because I didn't know what to do with it. And it wasn't until we met Gloria Lenhoff and several other children that we began to see that individual Williams may have special abilities like Gloria certainly does."
GLORIA LENHOFF HAS TRULY SPECIAL ABILITIES. SHE HAS A REPERTOIRE OF AT LEAST 1,000 SONGS (PROBABLY 2,000 OR MORE BUT HER PARENTS STOPPED COUNTING SEVERAL YEARS AGO) -- IN TWENTY FIVE LANGUAGES.
(Music In - Puccini..)
AT THE SAME TIME, SHE HAS DIFFICULTY SIGNING HER NAME...SHE CAN'T ADD FOUR PLUS FIVE... GLORIA CAN'T READ MUSIC; BUT WITH CAREFUL LISTENING TO MOST ANY RECORDING, SHE CAN GRASP THE SOUNDS OF A FOREIGN LANGUAGE OR A NEW MELODY -- WITH WHAT SEEMS TO BE A LIMITLESS CAPACITY FOR NEW MATERIAL. Gloria: "I've heard so many operatic sopranos sing that song, I said oh boy, I hope some day I can learn that one, and now I can sing it." Lenhoff: "...So we came up with the term mentally asymmetric. There are asymmetries in brain structure - so there are asymmetries in their cognitive functions." HOWARD LENHOFF IS GLORIA'S FATHER. Lenhoff: "Whenever I talk with groups of parents, I always start out with they're 'mentally retarded', I use quotation marks as symbols. However, I end up educating them that it's not really true because look at how good they are at certain things."
(Music - up)
"MENTALLY ASYMMETRIC" IS HOW HOWARD LENHOFF AND OTHERS HAVE COME TO DESCRIBE THE PEAKS AND VALLEYS OF WILLIAMS SYNDROME.
(More Gloria music)
IT'S ONLY BEEN IN THE LAST FIVE YEARS THAT RESEARCHERS HAVE COME TO UNDERSTAND THE BASIS FOR THIS CONDITION THROUGH MAPPING DONE BY MOLECULAR GENETICISTS. THEY BELIEVE THE CONDITION RESULTS FROM THE ABSCENCE OF ONE VERY SMALL SET OF GENES ON CHROMOSOME 7 WHICH GIVES RISE TO WHAT LOOKS LIKE A DIFFERENT BRAIN ORGANIZATION. THE CHROMOSOMAL DELETION IN WILLIAMS SYNDROME BASICALLY PRESERVES THE LEFT HEMISPHERE OF THE BRAIN AND DISTORTS THE RIGHT. Lenhoff: "Williams people -- all the parents had guilt until we finally learned that this micro-deletion that occurs is a spontaneous thing that occurs long before gestation. So it was nothing that any parent did wrong during gestation. Just that discovery alone made all the parents feel much better. Now all we can do is follow nature and do what we do best." IMAGING TECHNIQUES LIKE MRI NOW SHOW WHICH PARTS OF THE BRAIN ARE PRESERVED IN WILLIAMS -- THE FRONTAL LOBE, TEMPORAL LOBE AND THE CEREBELLUM - WHICH ARE CONSIDERED THE "SCAFFOLDING" FOR LANGUAGE. MUSIC, WHICH IS ALSO LOCATED IN THE TEMPORAL LOBE AND IN AN ADJACENT REGION CALLED THE PLANUM TEMPORALE -- ARE ENLARGED IN THE FEW BRAINS OF WILLIAMS EXAMINED SO FAR. ALTHOUGH RESEARCHERS LIKE DR. BELLUGI CAUTION THAT THERE HAS BEEN LITTLE SCIENTIFIC INVESTIGATION OF MUSICAL ABILITIES IN WILLIAMS -- THAT THE EVIDENCE IS STILL MOSTLY ANECDOTAL -- HOWARD LENHOFF HAS BEEN CONVINCED OF THIS UNUSUAL SKILL AMONG WILLIAMS FOR YEARS... Ambi: "This is also work for daddy.... these are heavy things. 35 pounds." HERE HE SETS UP HIS DAUGHTER'S ACCORDION, WHICH SHE HAS PLAYED SINCE THE AGE OF TWELVE. MBK: "So you're a team? Lenhoff: (laughs) I want to resign from this job right now but I need it." GLORIA IS NOW 43 YEARS OLD. LENHOFF IS RETIRED AND A PROFESSOR EMERITUS OF BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES AT THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA AT IRVINE. HE SPENDS MUCH OF HIS TIME TOURING WITH HIS DAUGHTER AS SHE PERFORMS AROUND THE COUNTRY. Lenhoff: "We were carrying -- between changing planes, a heavy accordion for one of her performances and we saw one of these little trams and we asked if the man would take us and he said sure hop on. And we got there, I thanked him Gloria said gracias. He said, I'm not spanish - I'm Bosnian. So Gloria started singing a song he knew and he started to cry and started singing with her. Gloria, can you play it?" (Performs - Bosnian song) LENHOFF IS CERTAIN THAT HIS DAUGHTER IS NOT ALONE IN HER MUSICAL PROWESS. FIVE YEARS AGO, HE CO-FOUNDED A MUSIC CAMP IN THE BERKESHIRES NEAR TANGLEWOOD WHERE SOME FORTY INDIVIDUALS WITH WILLIAMS SYNDROME HAVE GONE TO PERFORM AND STUDY FOR ONE WEEK EACH SUMMER. DR. BELLUGI AND A FEW COLLEAGUES ATTENDED THE CAMP -- FINDING THE STUDENTS CONSUMED WITH MUSIC...SINGING IN GROUPS EVEN AS THEY WALKED BETWEEN CLASSES. MANY PLAYED BY EAR AND IMPROVISED. ONE WAS A PROLIFIC SONGWRITER. MULTIPLE CAMPERS HAD PERFECT PITCH.
WILLIAMS SYNDROME REPRESENTS A WHOLE NEW FRONTIER OF BRAIN STUDY... WHILE THE STUDIES OF RESEARCHERS EVOLVE -- GLORIA LENHOFF AND OTHERS CONTINUE TO SIMPLY ASTOUND AND EDUCATE AUDIENCES WITH THEIR MUSIC.
(Gloria - music returns)
AMONG HER FAVORITES -- ALWAYS -- IS PUCCINI'S..."O MIO BABINO CARO..." MBK: "What does the title mean? Gloria: Oh my beloved father..." AND, PARENTS, TOO, LIKE HOWARD LENHOFF PERSIST AS CATALYSTS FOR ATTRACTING SCIENTISTS TO THIS FIELD. Lenhoff: "By studying this one population, something has affected their brains where they love music and they have abilities in music to see how their brain functions and processes music to see if they can understand how ours does. One of the rules in experimental biology which I grew up in academically -- is that if you want to study normal - you study an atypical system. If you want to study music, study those who don't do other things well -- but excel in music. That's the challenge that we're putting forth to the scientists." I'M MARY BETH KIRCHNER.
A CHILD WITH WILLIAM'S SYNDROME ONCE SAID, "MUSIC IS MY FAVORITE WAY OF THINKING..." AS WE'VE HEARD IN THIS PAST HOUR, MUSIC HAS BECOME A FAVORITE WAY OF THINKING FOR AN EXPANDING GROUP OF NEUROSCIENTISTS. THEY'RE TRYING TO LOOK INSIDE THE BRAIN TO SEE HOW IT LISTENS TO, INTERPRETS, AND DIGESTS MUSIC. THEIR SEARCH IS JUST BEGINNING. BUT EVENTUALLY THEY HOPE TO FIGURE OUT EXACTLY HOW OUR GRAY MATTER CLINGS TO A MELODY OR SONG, AND WHY IT IS THAT HUMAN BEINGS BREATHE IN MUSIC, AS SURELY AND AS HARMONICALLY AS THEY BREATHE IN AIR. I'M MANDY PATINKIN.
(Music up and out)
Announcer: For a cassette or a transcript of this program, "Gray Matters: Music and the Brain," or a free pamphlet called "Unlocking the Mysteries of the Brain," call 1-800-65-BRAIN. That's 1-800-65-BRAIN. This program was produced in association with the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives, an independent activist organization created by the Charles A. Dana Foundation in 1993 to champion the public stake in brain research. Its mission is to advance education about the personal and public benefits of brain research. Today, the Alliance brings together more than 170 neuroscientists, including six Nobel laureates. This program was produced by Mary Beth Kirchner and Robert Rand with engineering support from Leszek Wojcik and production assistance from Emily Botein. Our project manager was Kathy Moore. Special thanks to Phil Shuman, Professor Donald Hodges, and Dr. Guy McKhann.
(Music - Chopin)
(PRI Audio Logo)