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No. 95: Sep-Oct 1994

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Music Of The Hemispheres

The playing and composition of music has always been considered the near-exclusive province of the brain's right hemisphere. This turns out to be far from the truth. For example, non-musicians use both hemispheres in musical matters; the right side for recognizing melody and intonation, the left for such analytical matters as rhythm and notation. However, professional musicians, as their brain waves demonstrate, use their left hemispheres for just about everything of a musical nature. So much for the right-hemisphere theory!

The comparison of magnetic resonance images of 27 right-handed musicians and 27 right-handed nonmusicians have shown that even their brain structures differ. The corpus callosum -- that inter-hemisphere information highway -- is 10-15% thicker in musicians who began their training while young than it is in nonmusicians. Our brain structure is apparently strongly molded by early training. The corpus callosum in musicians is essential in such things as finger coordination. Like a weight-lifter's biceps, it enlarges to accommodate the increased tasks assigned to it.

(Anonymous; "Music of the Hemispheres," Discover, 15:15, March 1994.)

Comment. It would be interesting to compare the brain structures of mathematicians and nonmathematicians where the dexterity factor is absent.

From Science Frontiers #95, SEP-OCT 1994. 1994-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:

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  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987