A group of Dartmouth researchers has learned that the brain’s auditory cortex, the part that handles information from your ears, holds on to musical memories.
In a study titled "Sound of silence activates auditory cortex" published in the March 10 issue of Nature, the Dartmouth team found that if people are listening to music that is familiar, they mentally call upon auditory imagery, or memories, to fill in the gaps if the music cuts out. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to measure brain activity, the researchers found that study participants could mentally fill in the blanks if a familiar song was missing short snippets.
"We played music in the scanner [fMRI], and then we hit a virtual ’mute’ button," says first author David Kraemer, a graduate student in Dartmouth’s Psychological and Brain Sciences Department. "We found that people couldn’t help continuing the song in their heads, and when they did this, the auditory cortex remained active even though the music had stopped."
Sue Knapp | EurekAlert!
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