From the Journals: Lyrical Improvisation Reallocates Brain Function Vocal improvisation or "freestyling"—spontaneously improvising lyrics in real time—is associated with a unique functional reallocation of brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, according to a study in the Nov. 15 issue of Scientific Reports. Researchers in the voice, speech and language branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other ... From the Journals
From the Journals  |   February 01, 2013
From the Journals: Lyrical Improvisation Reallocates Brain Function
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Hearing Disorders / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Regulatory, Legislative & Advocacy / Language Disorders / Speech, Voice & Prosody / From the Journals
From the Journals   |   February 01, 2013
From the Journals: Lyrical Improvisation Reallocates Brain Function
The ASHA Leader, February 2013, Vol. 18, 35-36. doi:10.1044/leader.FTJ8.18022013.35
The ASHA Leader, February 2013, Vol. 18, 35-36. doi:10.1044/leader.FTJ8.18022013.35
Vocal improvisation or "freestyling"—spontaneously improvising lyrics in real time—is associated with a unique functional reallocation of brain activity in the prefrontal cortex, according to a study in the Nov. 15 issue of Scientific Reports.
Researchers in the voice, speech and language branch of the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders at the National Institutes of Health used functional magnetic resonance imaging to study the brain activity of rappers as they improvised lyrics. They scanned the brains of 12 freestyle rap artists—each of whom had at least five years of rapping experience—while the rappers performed two tasks using an identical eight-bar musical track.
For the first task, rappers improvised rhyming lyrics and rhythmic patterns guided only by the beat. In the second task, they performed a well-rehearsed set of lyrics. During freestyle rapping, the researchers observed increases in brain activity in the region responsible for motivation of thought and action, but decreased activity in regions that normally play a supervisory or monitoring role. Like an experienced parent who knows when to lay down the law and when to look the other way, these shifts in brain function may facilitate the free expression of thoughts and words without the usual neural constraints.
Further studies of this network in other art forms that involve the innovative use of language—such as poetry and storytelling—could offer more insights into the initial, improvisatory phase of the creative process.
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February 2013
Volume 18, Issue 2