Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Brain Wave Entrainment

A friend forwarded to me an except from a newsletter sent out by Dr. Andrew Weil. I've felt for years he's been one of best of the alternative medicine doctors, and have and use a number of books he's written. My 1990 edition of his Natural Health, Natural Medicine has a great section at the end called "A Treasury of Home Remedies for Common Ailments" where he lays out approaches to try before heading out to the doctor. 

Here's his well written summary of a recent study:

Study author Ulman Lindenberger of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin and his co-investigators looked at electrical activity in the brains of eight pairs of guitarists. They monitored patterns of brain waves as the musicians played a short jazz-fusion melody together up to 60 times, and published their findings in the journal BMC Neuroscience.

The study reported that the frontal and central regions of the guitarists’ brains synchronized to a high degree. But, more surprisingly, the temporal and parietal regions also showed significant synchronization in more than half of the pairs. These regions may be involved in simply enjoying the music, researchers suggested.

To my mind, this study highlights one of the great joys of playing music, one voiced by many musicians: a sense of self-transcendence. Playing music together creates a rare chance to step outside of ourselves and our small concerns and join our minds wholeheartedly with others in creating something no individual could make alone. Seen in this light, creating beautiful music is simply a wonderful byproduct of a larger reward – connecting deeply with other human beings.

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