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Music Memories Stored In Different Part of Brain Than Other Memories

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the soothe-the-savage-brain dept.

Music 94

An anonymous reader writes "Scientists have long believed that the ability to learn and appreciate music was stored in a different part of the brain than other types of memories. Now, researchers in Berlin think that they have concluded that theory. Dr. Christoph J. Ploner, Carson Finke, and Nazli Esfahani at the Department of Neurology at the Virchow campus in Berlin, Germany have examined a man who has lost all of his memories but has retained his ability to remember and learn songs."

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sigh (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092571)

These experiments based on one or a very small group of individuals are all too prevalent in neuro research.

Maybe this particular guy remembered music/songs in a unique way. Maybe he's acting.

Re:sigh (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092639)

If you understood why that was then maybe you wouldn't sigh.

We pretty much rely on people with borked bits of grey matter for pretty much everything we know about the brain. That is to say, to understand the whole we have to understand how all the parts work together, which means looking at the parts in isolation, which means looking at people who have parts of their brain that are swithced off.

Unless you're advocating labotomising a load of people with the hopes of raising the statistical significance...

Re:sigh (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092721)

Unless you're advocating labotomising a load of people with the hopes of raising the statistical significance...

Screw statistical significance, this is obviously a source of unauthorized copies of musical compositions without compensation to the rights holders!

BURN IT OUT.

Re:sigh (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 2 years ago | (#41099559)

Screw statistical significance, this is obviously a source of unauthorized copies of musical compositions without compensation to the rights holders!

BURN IT OUT.

The guy is legally innocent - he can't remember the copyright law because nobody bothered to make it into a #1 hit single.

Mentioned it once, I think I got away with it. (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093367)

Unless you're advocating labotomising a load of people with the hopes of raising the statistical significance...

A sample size of six million should be enough.

Re:Mentioned it once, I think I got away with it. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41094247)

Please tell me, how many visits Slashdot at least once a week? I promise it is not related, I'm just being curious...

Re:Mentioned it once, I think I got away with it. (1)

Zaelath (2588189) | more than 2 years ago | (#41105071)

Subtle, bravo!

Re:sigh (1)

opentunings (851734) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093511)

Absolutely right. A friend of mine is at one of the California universities doing and teaching brain research. The brains they get...well, remember that checkbox on your driver's license about "organ donor"? So the pool of volunteers for brain research is made of people who are either very recently dead, or suffering from "borked bits".

Re:sigh (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41097709)

Unless you're advocating labotomising a load of people with the hopes of raising the statistical significance...

Lawyers and Politicians! We've got lots of extras.

We'll even ship them to you.

Re:sigh (4, Interesting)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092713)

This is much more prevalent than one guy. Stroke victims who can't talk can often sing. So when they want to say something, they can simply say it to some made-up tune.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092769)

My stepfather did that. It was most strange.

Re:sigh (5, Interesting)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092863)

Reminds me of Scott Adam's Spasmodic Dysphonia, and how he could not speak normally, but sing and speak in rhyme. http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/scott_adams_fixes_own_brain_can_now_speak/ [outsidethebeltway.com]
It's a different disease, but similar in the way that music is treated different by the brain.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41093055)

Absolutely incredible. The brain is indeed mysterious. What's most amazing is the speed at which his recovery happened. Glad he could get over what must have been a terribly infuriating disorder.

Anonymous because I modded you.

Re:sigh (1)

nischal360 (2713011) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093057)

Yeah correct

Re:sigh (2)

EspressoBeans (2713941) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093461)

Music/Singing also helps people with a stutter.

Re:sigh (2)

rwise2112 (648849) | more than 2 years ago | (#41096685)

This is much more prevalent than one guy. Stroke victims who can't talk can often sing. So when they want to say something, they can simply say it to some made-up tune.

Ah! Like Ozzy Osbourne!

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41105091)

apologize for the AC, but I don't like to log in at work:

interesting related anecdote: Here in Japan I've come accross quite a few local musicians who like to play covers of English language songs, most can barely speak English, and when they do, have a very thick accent, yet when they sing it's often a (near) perfect rendition of the original.

Re:sigh (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092831)

Why do people complain about statistical significance so much? Statistical significance only matters if you need to reject the null hypothesis. Rejecting it only matters if it is in the least bit plausible. Statistical significance shouldn't be a geek mantra, it is just a tool.

If there is a structural cause that is clearly identified, then getting data for statistical significance would be a waste of time. If these doctors can lesion a small part of the brain containing music memories while not affecting other memories, then they can conclude that their efforts affected how the brain interacts with music. They don't have to lesion the brains of 100 people to prove it.

Re:sigh (1)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092961)

Implying that it's the music which matters, rather than the fact that this guy was a professional musician.

Implying that fairly specific activities are neatly allocated into areas.

Implying that any neat division exists across a majority of people.

Re:sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41096377)

A few years ago, I read a study that noted that morphology area of the brain showed clearly if the subject is musicient or not. The development of the musical memory changes the structure of an area of the brain.
Ref: http://www.zlab.mcgill.ca/home.html

Re:sigh (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41096909)

I think they're studying the wrong thing. Why does music exist at all? What evolutionary advantage does music give us? No other animal has music; there was a story a few days ago that said they disproved birdsong being music.

This study does sort of explain why tunes have a tendancy to stick in one's head (maybe, or maybe they're misreading the data).

Re:sigh (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41097809)

Not everything needs an evolutionary advantage to exist. Music may have co evolved with the structures required for language (for example). As long as it's not deleterious, it would not be selected out.

And once humans decided they 'liked' music, you can argue for an evolutionary advantage to the talent. (Ogg can sing, Ogg stay alive. Bonch grunt and fart, Bonch gets bonked with club....)

Re:sigh (1)

Zirbert (1936162) | more than 2 years ago | (#41100517)

And once humans decided they 'liked' music, you can argue for an evolutionary advantage to the talent.

Rumour has it that people with musical talent can sometimes leverage said talent into additional reproductive opportunities.

Re:sigh (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41110893)

Not everything needs an evolutionary advantage to exist.

Are you sure of that? I can't think of any other trait in any species that doesn't help survival and reproduction. A trait that isn't selected for would surely die out after enough generations. And music is so powerful for us now, it couldn't simply be the result of one minor mutation.

Music may have co evolved with the structures required for language

But as I pointed out, language evolved long before we were human. Of course, it could have co-evolved with something else.

Research Paper Reference Link (4, Informative)

pinkushun (1467193) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092595)

Re:Research Paper Reference Link (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41093601)

tl;dr version?

Psychological trauma (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092603)

I'd be curious to find out how psychological trauma affects music memory. Nothing fucks with memory worse than severe psychological trauma other than traumatic brain injuries). One of the reasons, as far as I understand, that psychological trauma affects memory is because adrenaline and cortisol are hormones used to form flashbulb memories. People who are traumatized often produce these hormones for longer durations and this damages the brain. If people who have psychologically caused memory loss can still form memories of music normally, that would imply that adrenaline and cortisol don't have an impact. It would also imply that music can't form flashbulb memories.

On a practical note, this might also imply that sound memories (like the sound of a gunshot or the words someone spoke in a violent confrontation) are less useful in court if they can't form flashbulb memories.

Nazli Esfahani (0)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092661)

Nazli Esfahani

Godwin?

Re:Nazli Esfahani (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092791)

Goldwin?

Re:Nazli Esfahani (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 2 years ago | (#41095617)

No, it sounds like an Iranian name. (Esfahan is a city in Iran, and that surname is quite popular)

The Original Work (5, Informative)

hutsell (1228828) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092719)

The Summary links to a (somewhat useful) fluff review by the Medical Daily Web Site (and will hit the visitor with 37 cookies). Fwiw, readers at Slashdot may prefer bypassing it by going the Cell's Current Biology Web Site where they'll be able to find the Authors' Original Summary [cell.com] or perhaps the Full Text [cell.com] instead.

Might be something (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092739)

My grandfather has very advanced Alzheimers. He's been to the point for a while where he can't recognize family and doesn't have much to say about anything. However, in the 40's & 50's, he was a musician (played harmonica in a jazz-standards harmonica band). Through the 80's & 90's, he had a recording studio in his house and kept his music alive through multitracking himself. He definitely built his music into parts of his brain that haven't been ravaged by the disease.

Given a harmonica, he can bring back those songs, almost note-perfect.

I've also wondered if it's possible that music (or the ability to play) gets pushed into some sort of muscle memory rather than memory in the brain. As a musician myself, I know I can think about other things as I play things that are super-well-rehearsed. My fingers just somehow find the right notes.

Re:Might be something (5, Insightful)

Ragzouken (943900) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092825)

I wonder if you could prepare yourself for Alzheimers by writing and learning songs about all your important memories

Re:Might be something (5, Insightful)

ryanw (131814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093343)

I wonder if you could prepare yourself for Alzheimers by writing and learning songs about all your important memories

I wonder if you could prepare yourself for Alzheimers by writing and learning songs about all your important memories

That reminds me of what the north American Indians had done. I would imagine there are songs of ancient time passed along due to this type of memory being the most protected.

Makes you wonder if there is something to the notion of singing angel references in the bible and why people sing in churches.

I have always found it so fascinating at how prevalent music is in our culture and profound an impact music has made on our history and makes up "who we are". Just about every kid in America is defined by a band or song or type of music. Just about every era is depicted by a musical theme.

It is almost completely correlated of advancements in music relate to advancements in technology.

Interesting.

Re:Might be something (2)

68kmac (471061) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093479)

That reminds me of what the north American Indians had done. I would imagine there are songs of ancient time passed along due to this type of memory being the most protected.

Hmm. That made me think of Songlines [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Might be something (1)

mooingyak (720677) | more than 2 years ago | (#41095425)

I wonder if you could prepare yourself for Alzheimers by writing and learning songs about all your important memories

I wonder if you could prepare yourself for Alzheimers by writing and learning songs about all your important memories

OT, but this is twice in two days that I've seen someone on slashdot double quote their parent post. Wonder if it's some new bug.

Re:Might be something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41096379)

No, it's just their Alzheimers. Should have starting singing their memories sooner.

Re:Might be something (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41097033)

Singing in church wasn't common until Vatican II.

Re:Might be something (2)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093991)

It's theorized that song developed originally for exactly that purpose, to help with recall before the advent of writing.

Re:Might be something (1)

archen (447353) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094313)

I should be good to go then, because the memories I'll "recall" from AC/DC songs are way better than mine.

Re:Might be something (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092927)

Well, yes, clearly the ability to play notes or play (or type!) on a keyboard are stored in "muscle memory". It certainly seems that common sequences are stored there, too, not just how to reach top C from middle F. Watch the mistakes you make when typing, for instance. Do you ever type the wrong word because it has a prefix with a word you type often? I find this with C++ keywords a lot. It seems my muscle memory is typing the keyword and my brain has to stop it doing that - usually too late, using backspace. Then I type the same similar word a lot and the brain seems to get the message through to stop doing that. Then, a few days later, muscle memory is back to its old tricks. Scarily, this happens when driving, too (I turn down the road I always turn down, then realize I was going the other way).

Of course, here I'm probably conflating true muscle memory (autonomous responses originating in the vertebrae) and some kind of lower-level processing in the brain. ISTR there is some part of the brain which acts specifically to coordinate fast actions involving multiple limbs or fingers, so that's probably very important in this case too.

Re:Might be something (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094071)

It's probably more of a probabilistic thing. The pathways in the pre-motor and primary motor cortex which correspond to typing a keyword are going to be heavily reinforced since you use them so much. When you begin a sequence of characters similar to this keyword, there's a high probability that neural connections will lead down the mostly heavily reinforced neural pathway.

Only later, when you receive feedback via your eyes or your conscious thought do you realize that this most common branch was an error, and you have to correct it. This time you type much more slowly and deliberately (with more focus), allowing you to type the correct, uncommon sequence of characters.

Re:Might be something (4, Interesting)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093295)

It's not "muscle memory", it's procedural memory, and it really comes from the brain! There's nothing magical about playing your tune and thinking of something else, without being conscious of what your fingers do. We all do lots of things without being conscious of every minute movement required.

Like walking to work. You don't have to vividly recall the way, you don't need to pay a constant, conscious attention to your surroundings. You just think about something else, and your feet and eyes (or walking stick if you're blind) relay the necessary information to your reptilian brain to run the procedure. You step out of your home and before you realize it, you're at your desk. Just as your fingers "somehow find the right notes", your legs somehow transport you to work.

Procedural memory is much more robust than "normal" memory. That's why Alzheimer's patients still know how to walk, take a shower, wipe their ass, do a triple jump, or dance the lambada. There's nothing surprising about them being able to play music, except for non-musicians or people who have tried learning an instrument, and who haven't got to the stage where what is learnt is pushed back in procedural memory.

Notice how sometimes, you make a mistake in your tune, and you can't remember for shit how the next part goes, unless you take it from the top ? That's the tell-tale sign your tune is in procedural memory : it's great because it allows you to think of something else, but it sucks when you make a mistake because procedural memory is "read" in sequences only. That's why it's good to rehearse your tunes by starting at an arbitrary point, so you have multiple points of entry to the same procedural sequence.

Re:Might be something (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41095709)

It's not "muscle memory", it's procedural memory, and it really comes from the brain! There's nothing magical about playing your tune and thinking of something else, without being conscious of what your fingers do. We all do lots of things without being conscious of every minute movement required.

As I said elsewhere in this thread, you should read Musicophilia [amazon.com] by Oliver Sacks.

It's not a procedural memory thing, it's that different parts of the brain structures are actually involved in music than simple memory. It uses a wider set of brain structures, and isn't quite as localized. There's more aspects of the brain that participate here.

In many cases, even if the person wasn't a musician, songs from their youth and other music associations still linger. So someone who is almost completely uncommunicative will perk up and respond to music, and in some cases even sing along when they can't really do much else.

I realize we on Slashdot like to think we can explain most of this stuff with our vast knowledge of such things, but I believe your explanation is a bit simplified. It doesn't even begin to cover all of the cases in which people have been able to demonstrate that, even in the face of actual structural damage to the brain (like a stroke), music still resonates with us. It's not simply that you've learned the procedure from repeated practice. It's that a whole lot more of your brain is involved than the parts that are primarily used for language.

It's actually a fascinating read, written by a neurologist, and shows a lot of cases with really interesting results. As it goes through a bunch of cases, it highlights how they are different from one another and shows a lot of the commonalities.

I believe ultimately there is some belief that language evolved from music instead of the other way around. It would seem that people for whom music plays a big part in their life get some lasting benefit from it.

But, then again, I'm not a neuroscientist either. :-P

Re:Might be something (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41097523)

Oh, and there's even a fair bit of evidence to suggest that infants respond to music [nih.gov] and move rhythmically along with it, which strongly suggests that some very basic parts of the brain are associated with music from a very early age.

That's far more than procedural memory at play. If we respond to music before we've even begun to process language, that points to more fundamental things going on.

Which is pretty cool, really.

Re:Might be something (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41098863)

I believe ultimately there is some belief that language evolved from music instead of the other way around.

I doubt either evolved from the other, but if they are connected, music would have evolved from language. Other animals have language, however rudimentary; everyone knows that a barking dog is saying "GTFO or I'll eat you!" Also, they've recently found that some species have fairly sophisticated communications abilities, but no other animal has music. Not even birds; a recent study showed that birdsong is not music, but simple communication.

Why would you think that a trait other animals share would have been evolved from a trait that is unique to our species?

Re:Might be something (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41099201)

Why would you think that a trait other animals share would have been evolved from a trait that is unique to our species?

Well, since I don't think that, I can't give you an answer to that.

My (albeit limited) understanding is that older structures in the brain than those found just in humans is involved in processing of music, and that it's far more fundamental to us than something which we simply learn (which is consistent with what you've just said).

If infants respond to music and move in time with the rhythm of music (essentially dancing really), then whatever is involved in that is some intrinsic structures in the brain and not purely socialized.

I think we've been steadily showing over the last decades that things we used to think were exclusively human traits are much more wide-spread in animals than was traditionally thought.

My guess would be that there's a lot more at play than 'simply' saying it's part of the deep structures or unique to humans. As usual, there's a lot more complexity and nuance in that kind of thing -- more likely, whatever evolved to give us the capacity for language also gives us a tendency towards music. And from what I've read, the music stuff is spread across more structures, and uses more parts of the brain than language does.

And that, is pretty cool stuff.

Re:Might be something (2)

modecx (130548) | more than 2 years ago | (#41099617)

Humpback whales. I'm not sure the line between vocal communication (what we'd call speech) or music can be drawn clearly, if at all, but during mating season male humpback whales 'sing' in patterns that seem to have measures, notes and patterns to we humans, and all of the males in a given locality sing roughly the same song, which varies over time, and doesn't necessarily repeat between seasons, kind of like improvisational song of a jam band.

P.S. I propose that humpback whales henceforth be known as the "hippies of the sea"

Re:Might be something (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41110569)

Wikipedia seems to disagree with you.

Whalesong" redirects here. For the student newspaper, see University of Alaska Southeast#Publications.

Humpback whales are well known for their songs[citation needed]Whale sounds are the sounds made by whales and which are used for different kinds of communication.[1]

The mechanisms used to produce sound vary from one family of cetaceans to another. Marine mammals, such as whales, dolphins, and porpoises, are much more dependent on sound for communication and sensation than are land mammals, because other senses are of limited effectiveness in water. ...
The word "song" is used to describe the pattern of regular and predictable sounds made by some species of whales, notably the Humpback Whale. This is included with or in comparison with music, and male humpback whales have been described as "inveterate composers" of songs that are "'strikingly similar' to human musical traditions".[3] Male Humpback whales sing only on calving grounds and only in the mating period and humpback songs are similar, almost identical, within a single population. It has been suggested that humpback songs communicate male fitness to female whales.[4] The click sounds made by Sperm whales and dolphins are not strictly song, but the clicking sequences have been suggested to be individualized rhythmic sequences that communicate the identity of a single whale to other whales in its group and allows the groups to coordinate foraging activities.[5]

Until very recently it was thought that birds sing, but a recent study showed that isn't the case. AFAIK no similar study has been done on whale song.

Re:Might be something (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 2 years ago | (#41114803)

And as I replied to you in that other part of the thread, I have read Musicophilia. I wasn't saying that listening to music, or appreciating music, or even responding to music is a "procedural memory" thing. I certainly don't deny what the book says.

I was only responding to a fellow /.er and talking about playing music. Actually, I should be more precise : procedural memory is only about executing the tune. You play the first couple of notes and "the fingers" (your brain, really) run the rest of the procedure. But to really "play" music, you need to also pay attention to what is unfolding, and control your expression, else you just sound like a machine. That's where all the "musical brain structures" that you're talking about come into play.

But really, the execution of a piece of music, at its most basic level, that is, hitting the correct notes in sequence and rhythm, is no more complex than mastering a fast-paced video game, or touch typing. Then you add in emotion, and it really becomes playing music.

Re:Might be something (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093943)

"Muscle memory" is in the brain, it's just likely that in resides in a different part of the brain than "normal memory".

It's possible that memory of a tune resides largely in the premotor cortex or a neighboring region, since this is where you plan how you will move your muscles - for instance, how to move your fingers to play a melody, or control your vocal chords/tongue to sing a song.

This leads to the interesting situation where you may remember how to play a song perfectly, but you cannot remember the name of the song. This is also why you remember the words to a song much more easily if you actually sing it. If you try to recite the words to a song without actually "going through the motions" of the melody, it's quite difficult, if not impossible.

If you get a chance, you should try inquiring further into what your Grandfather can remember. If he remembers a song, does he remember the name of it, who taught it to him, where he first played it, etc? Or is the song simply a motor memory that has lost its association with other types of memory?

IAANS (I Am A NeuroScientist... albeit a computational one who does mostly programming).

Text (3, Insightful)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092741)

Does this mean you store text in non-song form in a different location than text in song-form?

Since that looks like a binary decision: how much melody is required for the sudden switch from the one storage location to the other?

Re:Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092981)

Just because it's a binary decision, doesn't mean it's a fixed threshold on a single variable.

Neurons fire based on large numbers of dynamic inputs according to at least an 8th-order differential equation.

Add chaos theory, and you can see that "how much melody is required" is going to depend on a lot of things ... possibly including how burnt your toast was this morning, and how much of an idiot you think Todd Akin is.

Music != Melody + Lyrics (1)

srussia (884021) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093071)

Does this mean you store text in non-song form in a different location than text in song-form?

The guy in TFA is a cellist, so I assume the music he remembers does not have a text component.

I have a somewhat different handicap. While I can easily memorize melodies, I can't for the life of me reproduce the "text" of the lyrics. My version invariably comes out as a paraphrase of the meaning of the lyrics.

Re:Music != Melody + Lyrics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41096183)

You'd have to admit though, misheard lyrics are some of the best!

Wishmaster [youtube.com] and O Fortuna [youtube.com] are some of my favorite songs, but not because of what they actually mean.

Re:Text (1)

ryanw (131814) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093381)

Does this mean you store text in non-song form in a different location than text in song-form?

Since that looks like a binary decision: how much melody is required for the sudden switch from the one storage location to the other?

Who said the brain is binary? Computers are binary, brains are analog. There's a lot more going on then on and off switches.

Re:Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41093553)

Brains operate using strings of binary pulses. The frequency is important, yes, but it's still a binary encoding. A neuron fires, or it doesn't.

Re:Text (2)

c0lo (1497653) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093761)

Brains operate using strings of binary pulses. The frequency is important, yes, but it's still a binary encoding. A neuron fires, or it doesn't.

No it is not a binary encoding.
The fact that is using a rectangular wave for the transport carrier is irrelevant - the encoding of the transport/processing is done by frequency encoding.
For storage, it is the activation threshold of the synapses that is important, and the threshold is again not binary.

Re:Text (1)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#41100005)

Brains operate using strings of binary pulses.

No, it's much more complex than that. There isn't an on-off electrical signal like a computer, there are different chemicals in varying quantities passing info from one neuron to another. The harder I squeeze your hand, the higher the quantity of neurotransmitter travels through the nerve. It is analog. Thought is a complex chemical reaction, not a bunch of and/or gates.

Re:Text (1)

Lord Lode (1290856) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094585)

I didn't mean binary encoding, I mean two possibilities (two memory storage locations).

STREISAND EFFECT !! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092799)

Memories
Light the corners of my mind
Misty watercolor memories
Of the way we were
Scattered pictures
Of the smiles we left behind
Smiles we gave to one another
For the way we were

Can it be that it was all so simple then
Or has time rewritten every line
If we had the chance to do it all again
Tell me - Would we? Could we?

Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What's too painful to remember
We simply choose to forget

So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

So it's the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were

concluded? (1)

cultiv8 (1660093) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092801)

researchers in Berlin think that they have concluded that theory.

What exactly does it mean to conclude a theory, and how does this happen when your sample size is 1?

Re:concluded? (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092871)

Sample size does not matter that much when you can show a direct, structural link between cause and effect.

Re:concluded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092917)

I still can't parse "concluded that theory."

Proven it? Confirmed it? What?

Re:concluded? (1)

Knuckles (8964) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092979)

I still can't parse "concluded that theory."

Proven it? Confirmed it? What?

I guess a combination of this meaning from Merriam-Webster

3a : to reach as a logically necessary end by reasoning : infer on the basis of evidence "concluded that her argument was sound"

and a non-English native writer?

Re:concluded? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41104597)

> and a non-English native writer?

It's pretty hard to parse that too. Someone not from England, indigenous to where ever they might be, who writes?

Methinks you might mean a writer whose native language is not English? I suppose that could be a non-native-English writer, but I will defer to those who know English grammar better than I. Or would that be those who know better than me. Know better than I do? Know better than me do? Hmmm. Must be know better than I.

Who did the research? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41092897)

The MPAA? Be afraid, be very afraid!

Doesn't surprise me at all. (3, Interesting)

locofungus (179280) | more than 2 years ago | (#41092907)

I have always been able to memorize plays or poetry with almost effortless ease. In fact in my acting days at school I often knew pretty much all the words of all the parts (except for the acts/scenes that I was not involved in rehearsing) and I can still quote vast tracts of plays that I've not re-read for 20 years.

I also play the piano. Playing that from memory is a herculean effort with hours and hours of repetitive work required to get anything to stick. It also doesn't take very long for me to forget again unless I regularly play through something and I can get sudden blank moments when playing through something that I've played through dozens of times before without a problem. It's also not stress related as it happens regardless of whether I'm playing with someone else listening.

Tim.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all. (2)

O('_')O_Bush (1162487) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093307)

I've found similar quirks. Almost perfect encyclopedic knowledge on many things, including melodies, but I've never been able to sing through a verse of a song without either blanking out or missing/ mixing words.

I play cello and the mandolin, and struggle similarly when playing. I know what notes should be there, but it takes hours to work through small sections of song to get them to be consistently correct, and then that only lasts for a couple days before I need to start over.

Mnemonic schemes for remembering almost always make things worse than just remembering what the scheme represents. Different people use their brains differently, for sure.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all. (2)

EspressoBeans (2713941) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093515)

I play the piano as well, and the "muscle memory" is almost scripted. I can only start from the beginning, and I couldn't tell you what notes I'm playing or where I am in the music. If I'm interrupted, I can't pick up where I left off--I have to start over again. The battle isn't accessing the music memory, it's turning off the conscious brain because it only gets in the way.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all. (1)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093771)

And I am the opposite. It takes a great deal of effort for me to memorize a poem or spoken text without a melody, but I can sing or pick out a melody from memory, usually only having heard it once, and I can recognize a piece I'm listening to that I heard once ten years ago. (I may not remember the name of it, but the actual music will give me a big dose of deja vu.) If it's a tune with words, I'll be humming and half singing along with it on the second listen, and usually by the third go round I'll have it completely memorized. This also works with other languages, although I'll forget the words much faster than I will the melody in that case.

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41094171)

How interesting. You are certainly a unique and special snowflake. Won't you please regale us with further tales of your personal life experiences?

Re:Doesn't surprise me at all. (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094217)

You can try a little "synesthesia-like" experiment with your memory. When trying to memorize a piece on the piano, do your best to try to memorize it as a poem. Associate words with notes, phrases with sequences of notes.

Double Dissociation (1)

Yogiz (1123127) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093175)

To prove that musical memories are actually stored in a different brain module then all other memories you need a double dissociation. It's not enough to find a patient who can use no other memories except musical memories, you also have to find a patient who can use all other memories but has lost musical memories.

mnemonics explained? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093211)

Perhaps this is why learning a little jingle helps us memorize things like the alphabet, storing something in two different places as a song and as information. Works for the old tale-spread bards, too. Hmmm.

Re:mnemonics explained? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41093351)

There once was a man from Nantucket

(Admit it. You just remembered a dirty word.)

This doesn't prove that, or even come close (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093277)

It might prove that music is stored differently but only a brain scan showing activity in different locations can prove that it's stored separately.

Also, brains are wired differently in each individual, to an extent. Sample size of 1 fail.

Re:This doesn't prove that, or even come close (1)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41098001)

Sample size of 1 fail.

In this case, you can more accurately say "reporting of science by the media fail".

This isn't the only instance of this, it's fairly well reported, and has been known about for some time.

People have done brain scans, cognitive tests, and actually a fair bit of stuff which demonstrate similar effects.

This is far from a sample size of one, but this piece glosses over all of the other stuff that's come before. (And if you want a citation, I've given it twice in this thread, a book by a professor of neurology at Colombia University, and he's got reams of actual scientific papers he's citing.)

The reporting is thin, but there's actually some reputable science that's been done around this.

Good news everyone! (2)

Fixer40000 (1921598) | more than 2 years ago | (#41093443)

Now that the RIAA has located the parts of the brain where copyrighted music is stored. You can now be assured that no starving record artists will go hungry because evil heartless souls have copied their artistic efforts into their memory and are playing them back without paying.

A government sanctioned brain scan will discover any music stored within the grey matter and charge the owner of said brain the correct licensing fees.

Those unwilling to pay will be directed to sit in the red chair for removal of copyrighted material.

This is hardly new ... (2)

gstoddart (321705) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094055)

This isn't new, and it's been well known for years.

Read the book Musicophilia [amazon.com] . There's literally dozens of cases in which people can no longer really communicate or otherwise have some diminished mental capacity, but they respond to music by either singing or playing. That part of the brain seems intact.

Heck, this might even be one of the cases in that book. But he's a professor of neurology, and I believe that was published in 2007.

I don't believe this is a new theory, and it certainly isn't the first time someone has demonstrated this. Given how long I've known this, I'm surprised this is being touted as a first time we've confirmed this.

Re:This is hardly new ... (1)

frenchbedroom (936100) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094889)

Eeeyup, I've read that book, and I agree.

German scientist named Nazli (1)

jbjornson (63982) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094111)

"Dr. Christoph J. Ploner, Carson Finke, and Nazli Esfahani at the Department of Neurology at the Virchow campus in Berlin, Germany have examined..."

A German scientist named Nazli...danger Will Robinson. Yes, I noticed the "L" in his name, but in German "li" is appended to words to make the the diminutive (so he must be a short Nazi).

He must have sadistic parents :-)

Re:German scientist named Nazli (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41095563)

relax, "Nazli Esfahani" sounds Persian...not european/christian

Re:German scientist named Nazli (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#41098049)

relax, "Nazli Esfahani" sounds Persian...not european/christian

Or "Nazgul" Esfahani - one of the fabled IBM legal team.

Multitasking (1)

englishstudent (1638477) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094297)

I often find annoying or catchy tunes stuck in my head- when it happens it doesn't seem to impact on my ability to do whatever task I'm working on. Then on separate occasions I might try multitasking but it all goes to $h1t. Maybe this article explains it?

Not news to a Music Therapist (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | more than 2 years ago | (#41094461)

My wife is a Board-Certified Music Therapist [musictherapy.org] , and she sees this sort of thing all the time. Often, when she's working with an elderly patient with advanced dementia, the patient will start to sing along to a song that's familiar to them (often a hymn), even though they might otherwise be completely nonverbal.

Music Therapy has been used by former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords as part of her rehabilitation, and is often used as a treatment for a variety of conditions.

The key is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41095523)

So, the key to preserving (backing up) important memories is to commit them to song? :-)

Earworms (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | more than 2 years ago | (#41097965)

Could this be the source of Earworms? A song overpowers your music memory and keeps replaying. You try to stop it, but your brain is trying to "turn it off" in non-music memory so you fail and you hear it over and over and over again.

In related news, Hey, I just met you and this is crazy..... (earworm pass on completed)

Not Particularly Related... (2)

CFTM (513264) | more than 2 years ago | (#41098569)

But it is /. so I'm sure y'all will forgive my divergence from topic at hand.

Music holds a particularly unique place in my life, and this may be the same for others; I can pick a track that I listened to from any period of my life and it literally takes me back to the emotional state I was in during that period of life.

Throw on some Tool or Bush and all I've sudden the "how I felt" in my teen years come flooding back to me.

Throw on some tunes from college, same thing.

It's a fascinating phenomenon and obviously it's all anecdotal. I wouldn't be surprised if it's related to how I listen to music; I'll listen to the same CD for six to eight months at a time and then I'll pick a new one and listen to that one for long period of time.

You keep on using that word... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#41101641)

I think you meant to say that the theory was "confirmed," not that it was "concluded."

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