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Your Brain on Improv: Charles Limb

This is terrifically interesting to anyone into music or minds.

brain surgeon who studies creativity
fascination with sound-->study of music
Johns Hopkins and NIH-->3 musical experiments

plays Keith Jarrett improv jazz piano clip: awesome
artistic creativity is magical but not magic, it's a product of the brain
we can study it as a complex neurological process
science of innovation is new
expect a new science of creativity

to study brain he uses functional MRI
BOLD imaging: blood oxygen level dependent
tracks deoxyhemoglobin
assumes that active part of brain gets more blood
they have a 37 key keyboard that musicians can play while laying in brain scanner
what happens in brain during something that is memorized vs improvised
scale paradigm (memorized) and improvising on a scale (musically boring)
brought in jazz players, had them play memorized then improvised to same line
they play real music in there, musicians were comfortable in the end

brain activity differences: during improv
medial prefrontal cortex went up in activity (thought to be autobiographical)
lateral went down in activity (thought to be self-monitoring)

when musicians are trading fours
four bars, musicians play back and forth to each other
hard for musicians to play laying on back using mirrors to see hands, and not moving at all
but there were "moments of honest to god musical interplay"
Broca's area lit up when improvising, involved in expressive communication

next study: rap
freestyle correlates well with jazz
freestyle artist memorizes a rap, then freestyles
(Limb's going to rap for Ted, I think-->OH YEAH, that was great)
rappers memorize same rap
then improvise based on unexpected word cues: like, not, head
memorized-->visual, cerebellar areas lit up
doesn't tell us what happened during improv and with each new word

more questions than answers, as usual
love this science


Jan. 16th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC)
Wow! Another awesome TED. Thank you for sharing. And so cool to see Keith Jarrett playing. I love his music and have only heard it with all his ooooo's and ahhhhhh's, never seen his passionate relationship with the piano. Beautiful creative genius. The rap too. I'm posting this TED to Facebook.
Jan. 16th, 2011 04:58 pm (UTC)
I haven't seen a bad TED yet. =-] Great to have such inspiration floating around.



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