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Murakami is right about jazz and the brain

17 January 2016

From The Japan Times:

“Music brings a warm glow to my vision, thawing mind and muscle from their endless wintering.”

The above line is from the English translation of Haruki Murakami’s 1985 novel, “Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World.” It offers a theory on the way in which the brain perceives the world.

Famous for his wildly successful experimental fiction, Murakami is also crazy about jazz. So it’s fascinating to learn that what Murakami has intuitively written about composing music — that the creative process of making music, particularly jazz, is linked to emotion — has now been confirmed by brain scans.

U.S. neuroscientists at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, Maryland, scanned the brains of jazz pianists while the musicians were improvising songs on a small keyboard.

The scientists found that brain circuits known to be involved in creativity changed their activity when different emotions are expressed. In other words, emotion — in this case, simply whether the musician was creating happy or sad music — caused different parts of the brain’s “creativity network” to operate.

“The bottom line is that emotion matters,” says Charles Limb, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. “It can’t just be a binary situation in which your brain is one way when you’re being creative and another way when you’re not. Instead, there are greater and lesser degrees of creative states, and different versions. And emotion plays a crucially important role in these differences.”

. . . .

As Limb says, the new research suggests that creativity cannot be fully explained in terms of the activation or deactivation of a fixed network of brain regions. Instead, when creative acts engage brain areas involved in emotional expression, activity in these regions strongly influences which parts of the brain’s creativity network are activated and to what extent.

Link to the rest at The Japan Times

Creativity, Non-US

3 Comments to “Murakami is right about jazz and the brain”

  1. P.G.

    I read a Murakami book once, that’s about 14 hours of my life I’ll never get back.

    I’m johnny hates jazz, almost as bad as Wagner.


  2. Antares,

    Heh…I lived in Germany for six months and my girlfriend dragged me along to Bayreuth Festspielhaus. Half of the fun of opera is the dressing up nonsense and for some reason, on that night, I had fun.

    I have sinned, it has been six months since my last confession…


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